Emad Nasif, a 21-year-old Gainesville Twitch streamer, spends much of his day shouting.
Nasif believes that a high level of energy and enthusiasm is required for him to maintain his audience, and attaining success in the streaming world is no easy task.
The Santa Fe College dropout broadcasts himself playing the video game Fortnite, a billion-dollar battling game released in 2017. He is ranked among the top 60 most watched streamers for the game on Twitch.
Nasif officially launched his career as a streamer on Valentine’s Day in 2018. He spent the last four years building an audience in an industry in which success is not guaranteed.
Through streaming, Nasif has access to money gained from advertisements, subscriptions, and donations as well as a contract with an esports group called Team SoloMid.
Streaming has grown significantly in recent years. During the year Nasif started his career, Twitch had an annual average of a million concurrent viewers. Last year, the major streaming service had up to 2.84 million viewe
rs. This rise in prominence is also seen in the number of active channels. In 2018, there were 3.3 million channels on Twitch, and in 2021 there were 9 million.
Nasif, originally from West Palm Beach, had a slow start to his career. He briefly attended Santa Fe College but dropped out in 2018 after two semesters. He settled in Gainesville in January.
Nasif chose the home he currently lives in, located on Northwest 27th Terrace, because of the access it gives him to high-speed AT&T Fiber internet, giving him the ability to stream without lag.
The key to success in the streaming world is consistently being present for his viewers, he said. Even in the first month of his career, before he had developed a following, Nasif estimates that he streamed a total of 180 hours.
“Over time, people will find your stream,” he said. “If you interact with them, then they’ll stay and then…they’ll come back for the next time.”
Nasif took advantage of scrimmages, competitions with other players, to enhance his own skills. Opportunity presented itself for Nasif in October of 2018 when a tournament was held in Seattle, Washington.
The catch, according to Nasif, was that competitors had to secure a place in the top one hundred spots in a pool of a thousand people in order to qualify for the tournament.
Nasif was determined, however, and his confidence had taken a boost from his experiences in scrimmages. On the first two days, Nasif failed to qualify, but, on the third day, Nasif secured a spot by beating an accomplished Fortnite player. This victory allowed him to move into the grand finals of the tournament. He managed to get 37th out of 100 competitors and secured a $5,000 award.
The victory was important for Nasif not only in establishing a reputation but also in convincing his skeptical father of the viability of his chosen career path. Nasif managed to convince his father to give him 500 dollars to compete in Seattle, and he made him a promise.
“Alright, Baba,” Nasif recalled telling his father, “if I don’t qualify, I will go to college and get a full-time job just like you want me to.”
Nasif gave 4,000 dollars of his prize money to his father to help alleviate his family’s financial struggles and used the remaining money to buy himself a computer.
Nasif’s experiences in Seattle allowed him to set the foundation for the rest of his career. Nasif has a contract with Team SoloMid, the esports group, to stream for at least 120 hours every month. He also receives money through Twitch which comes from subscriptions, donations and advertisements.
Nasif did not want his exact salary to be disclosed to avoid running afoul of his contract, but the amount is in the six figures.
Nasif averages about 800 to 1,500 daily viewers for his streaming and that his playing can last up to 14 hours.
Nasif’s financial success as a streamer is not necessarily the norm.
Eamon O’Connor, a visiting assistant professor in the Digital Worlds Institute at UF, said that Nasif’s experience is unique.
“I don’t know that I would call it a career path,” O’Connor said of streaming. “The vast…majority of [streamers] don’t make anything approaching a livelihood out of it.”
Given the sheer number of streamers, it is also not entirely clear why Nasif and others manage to stand out. O’Connor believes that Nasif must have characteristics that help distinguish him given that the game he specializes in, Fortnite, is played by many others.
“His audience seems like it’s probably due to something else,” O’Connor said. “He has some type of charisma or some type of style…his audience relates to.”
Whether viewers gravitate to Nasif because of his personality, O’Connor said, rather than the game he plays, will determine whether he can maintain an audience when Fortnite’s popularity wanes.
For Nasif, building a rapport with his audience and maintaining a positive attitude is central to his streaming success.
“The best thing to do is to interact with the people [who] are watching,” Nasif said.
“Just talk to them,” he said of his viewers. “Make conversation.”
By addressing audience members the way he would friends, Nasif believes that he ensures they view him positively as a person and favor him over other streamers.
Nasif is known for his slogan Good Games Only, or GGs Only, a saying intended to keep players from getting overly worked up even when they lose.
However, Nasif acknowledges that the life of a streamer is not always glamorous and upbeat.
The time commitment required to maintain an audience can be isolating.
“You’re alone in a room for up to 13 hours a day,” he said. “Even though you’re talking to people through a screen, and you’re reading their comments, it’s very lonely.”
Nasif decided to settle in Gainesville this year because he was acquainted with people here which allows him to maintain a social life outside of streaming.
Nasif played video games with his two older brothers growing up.
Lith Nasif, a 24-year-old medical student at UF, said Nasif was the most competitive of the trio.
“Emad definitely did take winning and losing more seriously than both of us,” Lith said.
Lith noted that their parents’ original hope was for Nasif to continue his education.
“For my parents, because they were born and raised in Jordan, that was definitely their…viewpoint on it,” he said. “You have to go to college. You have to get a regular job. That’s how things go.”
In advising his younger brother, Lith said he should strive “to work less and live more.”
He wants his younger brother to find community and friendship, a task in which he believes Emad has had some success.
“But I still think he games too much,” he said.
Omar Ateyah is a contributing writer for The Alligator.
Omar Ateyah is a third-year journalism student and the Alligator's Race and Equity reporter. He previously served as the Alligator's crime reporter and as a news assistant on the Metro Desk. He enjoys going on long, thoughtful walks.