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Doja Cat is bringing Twitch even further into the mainstream

The pop artist is bringing games to her massive audience

Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Doja Cat is on a roll. The pop musician, famous for hits like “Say So” and “Boss Bitch,” has an unparalleled ability to spin chart-toppers into TikTok sensations. Nearly every single she’s released has become a heavily used audio clip on the video platform. But music isn’t her only flex. Lately, the star has been streaming video games on Twitch. And her latest music video, “Kiss Me More,” doesn’t just have an extended bit about the PlayStation 5 — it also reflects just how mainstream livestreaming video games has become.

On the surface, “Kiss Me More” doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with video games. In the video, an astronaut (played by Alex Landi) explores a bubble-gum-pink alien world that is equal parts sensual and playful.

But if you watch through to the end, the video takes a turn. You see Doja Cat and SZA lounging on the couch, snacking on food. Turns out, they’re playing a video game. As Doja Cat plays, she struggles to navigate the boat she controls on-screen — using a DualSense controller, in what appears to be some clear PS5 product placement — until SZA gives her a hint. The entire scene is reminiscent of the way Doja Cat acts on her own Twitch streams. The musician has only gone live a couple times, but she’s killed it every time. Nearly every clip of her on Twitch is memorable, even when she’s stuck on a difficult portion of any given game.

Oftentimes, she will meander around, like she does in the video, commenting on everything in the environment until chat tells her what to do. This sounds like it would be boring to watch, but it’s not. This is because her ability to improvise is remarkable. She’ll freestyle songs on the spot that match up with whatever she’s trying to do in-game. It makes even small things, like trying to jump from platform to platform, entertaining to watch.

The music video and Doja Cat’s stream represent a much larger trend: the increasing cultural relevance of Twitch and gaming culture. To have someone who has performed at the Grammys and who is arguably one of the largest artists on TikTok is unprecedented for a platform like Twitch. Sure, some celebrities have dabbled in streaming, and others have appeared in games, but Doja Cat bridges the gap between the two more effortlessly as a personality than what we’ve seen before. Drake logging onto Fortnite and needing to be carried by a livestreamer who actually knows the landscape and how to entertain an audience in real time this is not.

And all this isn’t just about big names streaming. It’s also about changing attitudes toward streamers as entertainers. Since the start of the pandemic, the streaming business has been booming. In terms of hours watched, Twitch grew by roughly 82 percent in 2020 compared to the year prior. And streamers on both Twitch and YouTube are now becoming widespread recognizable names.

Streamers like Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter made the New York Times with her latest move to become a co-owner of esports and lifestyle group 100 Thieves. Gaming personalities like Corpse Husband are moving into the music space and have collaborated with artists like Machine Gun Kelly. Both Corpse and Valkyrae appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, to play Among Us. Taken together, these people represent a new frontier for livestreaming, who we think of when we talk about video games, and how the hobby is represented in the mainstream.