Want to become an influencer, a business-savvy marketer and content creator while doing what you love?
For Austinite AvaGG and thousands of others, that dream unexpectedly became reality as they dove into the ever-evolving world of Twitch, a video game streaming platform. Ava now only goes by her gaming name after facing safety issues.
Ava's original goal was simple: Make money and connections while playing her favorite games, including Apex Legends, Magic the Gathering and Animal Crossing, on Twitch.
Now a 10-year streaming veteran with over 450,000 Twitch subscribers and well over 200,000 followers across Instagram and Twitter, Ava said the industry has changed exponentially in ways she never expected. As a longtime Texan who joined Twitch when it was around a year old, Ava's watched the industry transform—for better or for worse—from a hobby to a more than full-time job.
"You are a content creator, you're an influencer," Ava said. "It's hard because you still just think of yourself as a person who's just playing video games, and you also have to come to the realization that you have a platform that people do follow."
Through subscriptions and tips, sponsorships with national brands and a grueling streaming schedule that can well surpass the typical 40-hour workweek, Ava has been able to skip the office lifestyle, become friends with notable people and travel the world.
But it wasn't always this easy—for years, Ava said the job was just enough to pay the bills.
Through years of growth and a boost in the COVID-19 pandemic, Ava and over 8 million other Twitch streamers have gained the ability to diversify their business ventures and profit from large sponsorships. By 2020, 26.5 million viewers were logging into the streaming site daily, and over 8 million streamers were on the site in July 2021. Twitch gods like Ninja, who broke all-time streaming records in 2019 as he played Fortnite with rapper Drake, have made big-money sponsorships with brands like Adidas and Ubereats.
That growth has been especially evident in Austin. Streamers Lululuvely (1.1 million Twitch followers), TeaWrex (265,000 followers) and Nokokopuffs (265,000 followers) are just a few Austinites who have cashed in on the site.
The city's web of influencers has only grown more tight-knit—Ava, for instance, has friends that range from fellow streamers to prominent local food blogger Jane Ko, otherwise known as Koko—and many streamers decided to make the move to Austin to hang out with their virtual friends.
"I think it just started because, like, one or two people moved here, and then once a couple of them moved here, then everyone else followed," Ava said. "I convinced so many friends from like the (Grand Theft Auto game) World to move here... You game together with them for years so you want to hang out."
Ava said it's nice to have friends that understand her unique employment status. But it's also hard to strike a work-life balance in a world where your every move could be monetized.
"It's the entertainment business, right?" Ava said. "If you're not doing something, then someone else is going to. It's a harsh world."
Some cracks are beginning to show in the fledgling gaming world. Gaming addictions are now making headlines, with Austin online gambling streamer TrainwrecksTV (195,00 subscribers) recently coming forward about his own addiction. Ava's dealt with stalking, misogyny and racism, though she's managed to turn incidents into teaching moments for her followers. At 30, she's even seen premature effects on her health—from back pain to mental health issues from staying inside.
But the nature of gaming still stands true. Due to its inclusivity and widespread interest, she believes Twitch streaming and E-sports industries will soon become more popular than sports.
"I feel like it's going to explode," Ava said. "Because that's what's cool about gaming is, you know, for as noninclusive as people try to make it, it can be very inclusive, right? It's women, and men, young and old. I'm going to be 80 years old, probably still paying attention to Twitch."
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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