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Twitch users can finally credit emote artists

Emotes are an important part of Twitch, and credit is a step forward in recognizing that

Illustration featuring purple and pink graphic lines and a Twitch logo Illustration: Ariel Davis for Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

When you think of Twitch, you think of Twitch chat. And when you think of Twitch chat, you think about emotes, the small, emoji-like images that are basically their own language on the streaming platform.

Twitch’s global emotes, available to all streamers, are the starting point. But most Twitch streamers have access to custom emotes, which are often spins on different global emotes — for instance, a streamer having a PogChamp of their own face — and help bolster a community feel. Emotes can make communities feel connected, like they’re sharing the same secret language. Simply put, emotes are important, and that’s why there are communities of artists building out an economy of on the edges of Twitch’s business.

But there’s never been a great way to credit artists for their emote work, beyond a mention somewhere scrolled down a page or an on-air shoutout, which is easily missed. But that’s changing: Twitch announced Tuesday that it’s adding ways to credit emote artists for their work.

There are two parts to this: emote attribution and artist badges. Emote attributions are a label that can be assigned to emotes themselves, tagging in an artist’s Twitch channel any time someone clicks on an emote. You can see what this looks like below — the new detail is listed under Tier 1 Sub Emote, with a link out to the artist’s channel.

Twitch’s emote attribution
Twitch’s emote attribution
Image: Twitch

Creators can also assign an artist badge to five different people per channel; Twitch expects this to be used for emote, overlay, and avatar artists. The artist badge is a little paint brush, outlined in blue, that’ll show up in Twitch chat.

“As a disabled self-employed artist, creating art for Twitch streamers has been life changing for me,” Twitch streamer and emote artist Jesshy Carr told Polygon. “As a watcher and an emote collector myself, I am so excited to be able to click an emote and see who made it, so that I could potentially contact that artist to get some art from them for myself.”

Artists that don’t want either of these can turn the feature off, and artists will have to approve any attributions assigned to them. Both subscriber and follower emotes are eligible to be assigned to artists with the new labels. However, the artist needs to have a Twitch account to be credited for their work. It’s a small change, and some Twitch artists are waiting to see whether it’ll be beneficial for their businesses. But artists who spoke to Polygon are excited to see their work credited in more visible ways — whenever someone clicks on an emote in chat.

Pandreem, a Twitch emote artist and animator, told Polygon it could be a way for new artists to get noticed.

“This is a change that will help both big and small artists,” Pandreem said. “It’s a huge opportunity for getting more popularity and commissions. When I started out, the emote artist space was way smaller, and it was easier to get noticed. I mainly grew a name by contacting users through Twitter, when I was searching for the “emotes” tag.”

This method of promotion is less viable these days, she said — there are a lot of spam and bot accounts that flood commission requests.

“I’m sure that growing in the space isn’t as easy, there are many talented artists out on Twitch and they should have a chance to get their art recognized more,” Pandreem said.

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