#3: Techno’s Here to Stay

On Twitch, texting, The Real World, and techno

“What the Heck is Electronic Mail”

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Twitch: The [Digital] Land of Arcade Heroes


It’s a huge night at the mall. The cliques are all doing their usual cliquey nonsense. Mall hair is on high, as is the wafting stench of Sbarro pizza and Obsession by Calvin Klein. The cavernous arcade is packed: word is, tonight there’s a new contender gearing up to take down the infamous “LEX” from the leaderboard — an epic brawl that will culminate with either a new arcade hero... or a kill screen.

That anticipation, raw energy, and intense passion you once felt watching some dweeb beat a juggernaut back in the arcade days isn’t dead meat, (though most malls are in desperate need of a 1-up). Nowadays, the masses are taking to a new gaming sanctuary: Twitch.


Twitch, a video livestreaming platform that predominantly hosts gaming streams and live broadcasts of e-sports competitions, surpassed 3 million broadcasters in February of 2020, collectively drawing in 15 million average daily viewers. That’s no glitch, Twitch is now the world’s biggest “arcade”, of sorts, where heroes all over the world compete for eyeballs, attention, and “tips” from adoring fans subscribing to their individual livestream channels — think tons of “LEXs” owning bosses and trolling noobs in their own respective digital havens, each earning much more than street cred.


2020’s top Twitch streamer, Felix 'xQc' Lengyel, earned $1.5M from channel subscriptions alone. Ninja, the blue-haired bombshell (now more A-list than any of the Baldwins) inked a deal with Microsoft’s now-defunct Mixer, in between appearances on “The Masked Singer”. Along with other endorsements, this digital ninja is worth an estimated $25M. Talk about revenge of the nerds, eh?

Do you give up... or are ya thirsty for more? The e-sports industry is also in on the action, with major corporate sponsorships & investments from media conglomerates leveling-up to a whopping $1.5 billion by 2023.  And where the money leads, the bookies will follow.  In 2020, e-sport gambling all-in was upwards of $1.6B — all part of a burgeoning gaming industry.


So yeah, people are watching other people play video games online — same as the arcade days of yore but with much bigger stakes than friends tossing in another round’s worth of quarters. And those eyeballs are worth tons of gold coins, meaning the “you won’t amount to anything if you play video games all day” schtick won’t cut it for the little nerds in your life anymore. 

P.S.: Twitch isn’t just for gamers these days — killer klowns from all over the place are streaming weirdness on the reg.

SMS: Game Over

Discord is more than a feeling for today’s gaming community.  The popular messaging app, developed FGBG (for gamers by gamers, duh), aims to "recreate togetherness" in the heat of 8-bit battle.  Unlocking a loyal, niche audience in an oversaturated market, Discord also scored a love note from Microsoft with $10B in the P.S.

Messaging apps in general (as in, not iMessage or SMS texts) are becoming a PHAT trend as the world operates from a social distance:

You Win! 

The best Messaging apps allow users to turn quarantine into a multiplayer game by easily keeping in touch with everyone in your life, all while gamifying routine touchpoints with badges, custom emojis, GIFs, etc. for a more personalized feeling. Family, coworkers, and even that kid across the world who keeps kicking your ass in Tetris Effect: Connected — all are at thumb’s reach.

You Lose! 

For those with pioneering pre-teens, these apps aren’t all fun and games. The “don’t talk to strangers” warning that applied to us mallrats way back when is still relevant — now, more than ever. We believe everyone is entitled to a reasonable amount of risky business, but spies like us also want to keep playing that safety dance.

#FOMO:  not just about [canceled] concerts anymore...

Unfortunately, Gen Z’s intro to ‘the real world’ hasn’t been all strangers and misadventures, so let’s stop being polite and start getting real.

Thanks to COVID, young professionals attempting to jumpstart their careers are feeling disadvantaged with the lack of office space interactions — we’re not talking the usual misdeeds involving a stapler, but the real human connections that can potentially lead to less grody gruntwork.

"Without hallway conversations, chance encounters, and small talk over coffee, it's hard to feel connected even to my immediate team, much less build meaningful connections across the company." - Hannah McConnaughey tells CNET

And the poor UX goes beyond the workplace. Students at over 25 universities are filing lawsuits for tuition refunds, citing a diminished college experience, because everyone knows an Alabama Slammer doesn’t quite slam the same in your parent’s basement...


These kids don’t wanna miss a thing, particularly when it comes to essential water cooler talk or the most epic ragers with Bluto. So do your civic duty and reach out to the youngin’s for a cup of crumby internet coffee, already.

P.P.S.: Cute as this all may be, should we tell them when you grow up your heart dies?

P.P.P.S.: Are you living under a rock? The Real World is coming back. O.G. cast, too.

Behind-the-synthesizer with Juan Atkins

Juan Atkins - The Godfather of Techno. From their makeshift lab in the Detroit suburbs, three high schoolers, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, started making music for the future. What started as an escape from impending careers slogging away on the Big Three assembly lines then exploded into an international phenomenon.

Now known as The Belleville Three, they combined European synth-pop influences (a la Kraftwerk) with funk and futuristic elements, inventing a whole new musical compulsion dubbed Detroit Techno.  

“Everybody was equal. So what happened is that you’ve got this environment with kids that come up somewhat snobby, ‘cos hey, their parents are making money working at Ford or GM or Chrysler, been elevated to a foreman, maybe even a white-collar job." - Juan Atkins, on growing up in Belleville

Decades later, the genre continues to inspire a steady stream of new electronic music both domestically and abroad.


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