ByRachelle Riddle, writer at Creators.co
Writer by day, gamer by night. Everything's a story.
Rachelle Riddle

Twitch is partnering up with the government to promote health coverage. Yes, you heard that right.

In an effort to encourage the Millennials and Gen Y's to sign up for health coverage, Twitch will be hosting a live gaming event at the White House on December 12 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST (1:00 PM to 5:00 PM PST). It will be featured on its very own unique stream Twitch.tv/GetCovered. And it's even on the official White House blog as "An Epic Win."

Shaq wants you to as well, though his video takes an odd approach. It's 46 seconds of him performing the video game equivalent of a victory dance and 9 seconds of talking about health coverage. "Cover yourself in and out of the game." Using Shaq for an eSports message is right up his alley though. If you've been paying attention to Shaq or eSports recently, you'd know that he owns his own eSports team and they've been doing quite well.

Highlights of the event will feature:

  • A game-a-thon with Twitch Partners
  • Rocket League Pro-Am match with members of NRG eSports, commentated by Goldenboy
  • Street Fighter V match between Justin Wong and Mike Ross, commentated by Gootecks.

Last year tried a similar PSA to get gamers involved and signed up before the February deadline. With more and more young people getting into gaming and streaming, and the rise of eSport leagues as a viable career, many people don't know about health care options outside of the typical employer 9-5 job. This time the gaming community is going a step further than a YouTube video and getting streamers involved, right on the President's doorstep.

While this is unprecedented for the White House, it's also a new venture for .

Twitch hasn't exactly had the best record for promoting social issues. It has inadvertently become a platform for Swatting, providing headaches for law enforcement agencies across the country whose laws are outdated and woefully unprepared for harassment in the digital age. And chat itself, especially on popular streamers, is sometimes just better left turned off. Streamers find themselves the targets of harassment, especially if they're women. Most streamers have mods around to manage chat, but it's usually a chaotic minefield of the lowest common denominator trying to out-edge each other. Because thousands upon thousands of people watch, and everyone wants their voice heard.

To say Twitch is fairly popular is an understatement. Last year, Twitch's peak concurrent views hit 2.1m during the ESL One: Cologne 2015 and the League of Legends NA LCS Finals. They averaged 550k views on a daily basis with 241 billion total minutes streamed.

Sometimes they do incredibly inane things, which is what Twitch loves the most. What was super popular? Twitch Plays Pokémon. This consisted of an interactive stream of Pokémon where viewers could control the game by typing commands in chat. It started out small and the game proceeded well enough. Then it went viral. Hardly anything got done, which is unsurprising in a truly democratic state where every single person has a voice and power. But this was the allure. The anarchy, the unknown. The ability to watch thousands of people attempt to be a single cognitive presence. The cursor may have kept moving back and forth as thousands of people vied to send it every single direction, but they loved it. It's still going strong.

But Twitch has done good as well. And they're starting to do more.

They single-handedly managed to bring back the beloved Bob Ross by hosting a 9 day marathon of his shows with the launch of Twitch Creative, a place for artists of all sorts to stream. When the show proved to be immensely popular, garnering a whopping 5.6m views, they brought it on permanently on a weekly basis with a marathon every year on October 29, Bob's birthday. Part of the advertising revenue goes to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Streamers also do charity events, often participating in marathon streams for donations. In 2015 they raised a total of $17.4m for over 55 charities. Extra Life raised over $6m while working with many streamers for the Children’s Miracle Network. Often there are rewards in the form of crazy antics to garner more donations.

All in all, Twitch streaming from the White House isn't a bad thing. It's just...odd, at first glance. But when you look further, why shouldn't Twitch use its power for good and promote social issues? We have so many people in this gaming world, so many communities. And the world could always use more heroes.

What do you think about gaming initiatives for social issues?