KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Her name is Alice, and she plays videogames for a living on Twitch.
Twitch is an online streaming platform that largely focuses on broadcasting people as they play video games, giving them a chance to build a community and connect with new friends. For Alice, it's her full-time job.
Alice, who also goes by her Twitch handle "FoxQueen," has a channel with over 11,000 followers. For five days a week, she joins her audience online to chat and play games.
While streamers on Twitch will focus on more intense, competitive shooter games such as Valorant and Apex Legends, Alice describes herself as a "cozy streamer.”
"A cozy streamer gives a chill, nice, positive environment," she said.
Alice wanted her streams to be a comfortable and relaxed space, and she mostly posts videos of herself playing story-focused games like Final Fantasy XIV and Persona 5: Royal. She said part of the fun with her streams is experiencing story moments together with her audience.
"I've always really loved video games and being able to experience a game with a bunch of other people, friends and have reactions together,” she said. “It's a really special feeling.”
Alice's start in streaming began in 2015, while she was in high school. She said at the time, those early streams were a far cry from the professional setup she does now.
"They were really messy, but they were fun!" she said.
She described the streams in her early days as her and a small group of friends playing games on her parents' laptops. She said those early posts helped kindle a passion for the platform, inspiring her to make it a full-time job.
Full-time Twitch streamers usually make money from community donations. The bigger of an audience they build, the more people will want to support them. Some streamers also sign onto brand deals, making money for advertising products like Mountain Dew or Raid: Shadow Legends. The biggest streamers can also make millions of dollars a year, raking in advertising revenue from popular clips.
However, Alice’s audience is much smaller than the size of those streamers. While big names can have an audience of 4 million people, Alice has built an audience of 12,400 people that helps her raise around a few hundred dollars per stream.
Before she started full-time streaming roughly three years ago, Alice worked as a pastry chef. According to her, both jobs are difficult and demanding, but in different ways.
Alice said her time as a pastry chef was tough on her body.
"I would constantly be moving 50-pound bags or 50-pound carts," she said. "I was typically working inside a building that was 90 degrees, and sometimes higher inside than it was outside in the summer."
According to her, the hard part about streaming online is the unpredictability. She said it can cause a lot of mental exhaustion, and some streams can feel like an emotional rollercoaster.
"I have to be constantly creating things, because that's the only way you can grow," she said.
Streams can underperform or projects that take months to complete can flop, attracting little attention online. Inconsistent results can lead to inconsistent pay, and the unpredictability of the online space can worsen that.
"A big thing with content creation and a big thing with Twitch is that a lot of us will focus on the numbers heavily," Alice said. "Numbers are sort of like our career, so if our numbers are low, we can't keep doing what we’re doing and it's really disheartening sometimes."
Despite these setbacks, Alice finds her drive and a love for her job from the passion she has for her community. Her community is formed on love, and most people in it share an appreciation for each other. She tries to invite everyone into conversations about anything from Boba tea to the latest video game release, Elden Ring.
Alice is also openly pansexual, and because of her own openness about herself, others can find comfort in her streams.
"A lot of people come for other people in the community because they build friendships together," Alice said, adding that many within the LGBTQ+ community struggle to find a place that accepts them. "Not everyone can say, ‘Oh I'm trans' or, ‘Oh, I'm gay.’ They can't always have the safe space and the safe living environment to do that."
Over the years, she has received messages from her audience sharing how her streams have helped them personally. They said that, through her streams, they were able to realize part of their own identity and open up to others.
"People have told me that because of my stream, they have been able to figure this out about themselves because of me being open about who I am," she said. "They have been able to discover who they are and been able to transition or to accept their sexuality. It’s made them feel comfortable and safe and feel accepted."
For Alice, she said that it is these kinds of messages that motivate her to keep streaming.
"It honestly means the world to me!" she said. "Sometimes it keeps me going. Having these people come to me and tell me these things makes me want to keep going and keep streaming and keep fostering this community throughout everything."
Alice said that one of her favorite parts about streaming is charity streams. These streams are special occasions where she and her audience raise donations for non-profit organizations.
"Everyone gets together and gets really hyped up and excited," Alice said. "It builds such a sense of community doing that."
During a charity stream, Alice may play a horror game so her audience can watch her freak out during jump scares. In other charity streams, Alice will collaborate with other streamers like her and play games together.
In one recent charity stream, Alice and her community raised $2,034.27 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Alice has raised over $17,990 for various charities throughout her career. She has raised $4,090.47 in total for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and also raised $5,753.95 for East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
Looking forward, Alice said she still sees herself streaming, even if the unpredictability of Twitch forces her to switch to part-time. Her love for games and her audience won't let her fully leave it behind.
"Honestly though, if I can't make my bills with streaming, I still see myself streaming, just doing it a little bit less and doing something on the side to pay for everything,” she said. “But for now, I still see myself streaming full-time."
For Alice, she looks most forward to continuing playing games, doing more charity streams and most importantly, continuing to foster a community where her audience can feel welcome and accepted.
"Honestly the world is pretty scary right now, so being able to know that I have the ability to impact people and to help people in that way, even just playing videogames, means a lot to me,” she said.