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STATE OF PLAY

How watching other people play video games took over the world

Nick Little for Quartz
  • Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Some parents roll their eyes when they hear the sound of their kids booting up an Xbox or Playstation console. Rachel Hofstetter’s mom, however, encouraged her daughter to play video games from when she was young. It turned out to be a smart decision.

Hofstetter loved video games so much that she got a job at GameStop as a teenager. She started posting photos of new game releases to her Instagram and soon developed a small following. Eventually her followers asked her to live-stream on a platform called Twitch. She didn’t really know what she was doing—few did, in fact. At the time, Amazon had recently bought the service, and it would be several years before it would take over the world.

She quit her job at GameStop in 2015, and, at 23, pivoted to streaming full time later that year. Her small community of supporters became a big one. A big community became a fan base. A fan base became an army. Today, she’s known as Valkyrae and streams on YouTube, where she has 3 million subscribers.

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