Group fosters new streaming community
When SC Live began in Fall 2019, it started as a space for USC-based streamers to release content together, collaborate and learn from each other. Originally started by two student streamers, the organization gathered other students in a Discord server, an instant messaging platform, in an effort to expand the USC streaming community and support smaller USC streamers.
An official team for SC Live streamers came to fruition on online broadcasting service Twitch under the name “USC Live” in May 2020. Team membership began to grow last summer, and, as a result, talks began to make the team a recognized student organization at USC.
“You’d automatically be added into our SC Live Twitch team, which will help you with growth and basically be grouped together with other SC streamers,” said co-founder and vice president Lance McMahan about those who wish to join SC Live. “We also have a lot of events that we held throughout the semester … we had Q&A sessions with our bigger Twitch streamers.”
SC Live is open to both current and former students. McMahon, a 2021 graduate who majored in interactive media and games, said he hopes USC alumni will continue to hold influence within the organization.
“We definitely are encouraging alumni who just graduated, like myself, to keep being a part of the team, and keep adding to the Discord and adding their own collabs or their own experiences,” he said.
McMahon said SC Live even has some USC faculty members who stream, and he encourages faculty to join the organization. Gordon Bellamy, a School of Cinematic Arts professor, functions both as the organization’s advisor and as an official member of the streaming team.
Because SC Live was an informal organization prior to last summer, Emma Reynolds, a rising senior majoring in cognitive science who serves as the organization’s current president, said she and other members worked to establish SC Live as a recognized student organization during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the circumstances, the pandemic did not pose significant challenges to finding members; however, Reynolds faced some difficulty navigating the process of creating a new club on campus.
“It wasn’t difficult getting members because we already had a bunch of people in the Discord, from them being on the Twitch team,” Reynolds said. “I guess it was just harder to get people that were really dedicated to [making] this happen because I have no experience. This is the first time I’ve ever tried making a club at USC.”
Meetings for SC Live were held every Sunday, with members of the club joining from various locations and time zones. The meetings occurred on Zoom or Discord and involved around 12 to 25 members joining to discuss what kind of plans the club would do next.
While SC Live was able to adapt to online activities, Reynolds expressed a desire to return to in-person meetings.
“I don’t think we were affected too much,” she said. “But I would definitely not want to have another online semester, if possible, just because I think having those face-to-face interactions is a lot more meaningful for me.”
Planning a return to campus is on the mind of club members, including Kim Do, a rising junior majoring in computer science, who serves as a regular member of SC Live and contributes to some of the graphic designs. With a return to in-person activities, Do expects SC Live to invite guest speakers, collaborate with USC classes dedicated to streaming, hold workshops to introduce members to the world of streaming and join together with other organizations.
“Some other things we are expecting is probably collaborating with the other USC eSports clubs,” she said. “Maybe [we] find some way to [collaborate] with them just to join with them, see what we could help out with, see what they could help us with.”
Do also hopes SC Live can attend major events, such as TwitchCon.
Despite primarily streaming on Twitch, SC Live welcomes students who wish to stream on other platforms. Reynolds said that while Twitch may stand out as the main platform for online streaming, students who utilize other platforms such as YouTube Gaming or TikTok are also accepted in the club.
SC Live also allows for a variety of content to be streamed online, including chatting with viewers, playing music, making art and playing video games. Games played on the club’s official channel range from the open sandbox game Minecraft to the action roleplaying game Genshin Impact.
SC Live participated in a joint charity stream alongside “Rise Above the Disorder,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to making mental health more affordable and accessible. The stream came together after Parker Billings, the project coordinator of RAD, reached out to Reynolds and asked to gather creators for Mental Health Awareness Month, which occurs in May.
Originally, Reynolds and RAD planned to set up a charity event in December 2020. However, plans for the event fell through at the time due to the lack of resources available from RAD and backing to put on the charity event. When RAD reached out to Reynolds again in May, the nonprofit approved of Reynold’s proposal to bring some friends to be a part of the charity event.
“We didn’t quite know that it was going to end up being an entire stream team of creators, which was a really pleasant surprise,” said RAD’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Jonathan Miller. “We went through that process with Emma. She really helped take the charge on it and lead that whole process, but as soon as she opened it up to the entire SC stream team, we were blown away. Their professionalism, their organization within their Discord, [the event] was really, really well done.”
The stream set up a collective fund where viewers watching made donations to finance mental health initiatives, such as providing therapy for those who cannot afford it. The charity stream began on May 19 and featured a total of 18 streamers, which included Reynolds, McMahon and Do.
“It went really well,” Reynolds said. “We played games together; we had that really awesome mental health panel [where] we talked with one another on Discord. Then we also had our chats going, talking and discussing. It was really insightful, and it went really well.”
The stream surpassed its fundraising goal of $2,021 (in representation of the current year), raising over $5,085, equivalent to around 160 therapy sessions, McMahon said. According to Miller, the funds will go toward helping those who undergo a mental health journey, which involves paying for people’s care as well as transportation, medical and essential costs for those using the service.
The limitations of the pandemic prevented the club from holding other events, though there is hope that returning to in-person activities will allow for further events in the future.
“Next semester, I want to be able to have more collaborative streaming events,” Reynolds said. “Now that we have had one charity stream under our belt and a collaborative event, I think the ones going forward should be a lot easier to prepare for and execute.”
For Do, the amicable relationships she had with other members stood out as one of the notable elements of the organization.
“The most rewarding part was, honestly, making friends and the community and growing my stream,” Do said. “I will admit, I don’t think I would have grown as big without my friends, without all the raids that they’ve given me and without all the support as well.”