How do these Chinese Content Farms, where dozens of people sit packed in front of selfie rings in dilapidated locations, work? What are they streaming?


How do these Chinese Content Farms, where dozens of people sit packed in front of selfie rings in dilapidated locations, work? What are they streaming?

In: 64

Would you mind offering any additional information? A source for what you’re talking about, perhaps

The answer can be varied. In some cases, they’re not actually streaming anything. They’re basically taking classes in how to be a streamer. It’s like a training lab. If they do well, they’ll “advance” and be given a studio, which is basically a room mocked up to look like a bedroom. Often, it’s basically just a cubicle with a desk and a carefully constructed backdrop with items designed to create a brand persona. This could be gaming, fitness, makeup, cooking, etc. From there, they’ll create an instagram, Tik Tok, etc. presence that can be monetized. The farm gets a cut of all of their income.

Are you talking about the peeps that camp out close to “rich people” residential areas in order to have the algorythms of twitch recommend their stream to the rich peeps (based on ” this streamer is close to you, watch them”) so that the rich peeps might end up giving big donations. As opposed to streaming to lots of poorer peeps that wont give big donations. Are you talking about those?

The big gap between streaming in China as opposed to in the west, is the way it’s viewed. In the US people dream of becoming a star, and work mostly individually online to do so. In China, the career is more guided by agencies and companies. In the U.S., streamers make most of their own money, while in China they are beholden to companies and often only receive a small share as they are coached on appealing to a wider audience.

The relationship between streamers and users is also a different, significantly more para-social than the usual streams on twitch.

As an example of this effect in microcosm, take the live streaming of young women on Chinese websites.

From the audience perspective, in wide swaths of china, poorer men, who have little chances of a romantic match given the gender disparity, often engage with streamers, for the chances to feel like they’re the big brother to a little sister, like they matter to them. Being a big brother often means spending money to “save” their streamers. **The more you spend,** **the more well respected you are, both to the streamers** ***and to the online communities surrounding them***. That last piece applies not just to the specific form of streaming targeted at young lonely poor men, but to nearly every variety of streaming in China. In theory, however, this acting as a “big brother” is a fabrication the streamers keep up, a joke everyone but the most devoted viewers are in on, like simps for streamers in the west, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

From the perspective of the young women streamers, those viewers actually **are** acting as big brothers, paying to ensure their job and position, their increasing rise in their agency or organization. Furthermore, to increase popularity, **many young women engage in punishment games**. For an idea, think the sort of excessive embarrassment found on Japanese game shows, except significantly more malicious. Remember, **these women are beholden to their agencies**, so they can’t simply ignore pushes toward that sort of content. They put themselves essentially at risk to increase views, and hope that their more well paying clients come through. Many of these women are being manipulated emotionally by those companies to **view their audience as “big brothers”**. This sort of two-way street makes for a significantly better paying audience, with plenty who can barely afford their current lifestyle dipping further into their pockets to “save” their streamers.

The end result is that many of the para-social relationships developed here spread to far more of the streamer’s lives than otherwise, their streams become not just about content but about their lives in every sense. Things like “she actually had a boyfriend” are incredibly uncommon as a result, many of these kinds of streamers themselves don’t draw the necessary boundaries to have separate public and private lives.

The market for that kind of “younger sister” streaming is **fucking huge**, and that “big brother” portion, and the associated risks of failure, given that many of these streamers aren’t necessarily wealthy to begin with, and are hoping not just to become a star, but to escape problematic financial conditions in a country with limited social safety nets, results less in a “city of dreams” scenario like hollywood, but instead in the sort of desperation that drives people to move under bridges for streaming to maximize payoff. That sort of desperation is the main reason they’ll go so far.

To be honest I’m barely scratching to surface of one sector of streaming in China, I hadn’t even gotten to the sexualization present given the lack of (legally) available porn in China

If you want to learn more about streaming in China more generally try the documentary

*People’s Republic of Desire*

For more about this type of streaming specifically, there was a recent paper published on the subject, [Livestreaming love games]('love_games'_mediated_intimacy_and_desperational_labour_in_digital_China)

Chinese content farms typically employ large numbers of people to create and stream live video content, often through platforms like Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) and Kuaishou. The content can vary widely, but often includes performances such as singing, dancing, or comedy routines, as well as mundane activities like eating, chatting, or playing games. These content farms operate on a business model that rewards popular streamers with gifts or cash from fans, and the platform takes a cut of the earnings. The conditions in these farms can be harsh, with workers often working long hours in crowded and uncomfortable environments in order to produce as much content as possible.