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Saverino also makes YouTube videos composed of clips from his UV_BlackLight streams which you can find on the channel, "UV BlackLight" on YouTube. Photo courtesy of Evan Saverino.

Twitch helps UMBC student cultivate community

Getting to know people online can be weird, and being in front of a camera can be uncomfortable with technical difficulties making communication even more challenging. Still, plenty of communities exist and flourish entirely over the internet. Evan Saverino, a freshman political science major, created one such community.

When I first met Saverino, we were in a virtual class. His camera was on, and I noticed that his setup was amazing. He had a professional microphone, soundproof foam paneling and good lighting — the whole nine yards. I was pretty impressed, considering that my background includes a stack of unread magazines and an unsightly pile of laundry on top of my hamper. When we started talking, he introduced himself as a Twitch streamer, and suddenly his impeccable background and professional equipment made sense.

Saverino began streaming on Twitch, a video live streaming platform, about ten months ago, playing horror games like “SCP: Secret Laboratory” and “Phasmophobia.” Since starting out, he has amassed 1.8 thousand followers on his channel, UV_BlackLight, and he is an official partner for the aforementioned indie horror game “SCP: Secret Laboratory.” Most importantly, he has built a community around his streams: he has a Discord server with over 600 members where viewers can interact and have fun.

Saverino is far from the first person to cultivate a community through Twitch. Streamer Discord servers are common, especially for moderate-to-massively popular streams. Some content creators, like Quackity and Ludwig, even incorporate their servers into their content, hosting game shows and talent competitions with fans. 

The communities that sprout up around smaller content creators like Saverino are often close-knit and provide a great space for people to make connections. Recently, Saverino hosted an event over Discord, where his fans chatted and played “Among Us” together. I popped into the voice chat for a few minutes to see what it was like, and it was immediately clear that the dozen-or-so members who were there at the time felt comfortable with each other. They were cracking jokes and talking like real friends — probably because they are. Despite, or perhaps because of, the virtual origins of these friendships, plenty of people find genuine relationships on servers like Saverino’s.

Saverino himself has found friends through Twitch. He and members of his community have worked on projects together for his channel and spent countless hours together talking and texting on the Discord server. At this point, he says he feels more like UV_BlackLight is “our channel” (referring to his fans and friends), rather than solely his own. “I’ve gained this giant community, and they are all a part of it,” he explained.

Talking to Saverino, it is not hard to figure out why he has amassed such a large following so quickly. He is more than dedicated to his stream and his community; he streams practically every day, and even when his stream is offline, he engages with his fans over Discord at every opportunity. When school keeps him busy, he studies on voice chat. Even when he is exhausted after a night of streaming, he often stays online to talk to people before going to sleep. Saverino proves that, although it takes time and effort, successful communities can form online.

Article by Sarah Nove.