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The girls don’t need anybody." Once viewed as a small niche in the world of adult entertainment, camming today has become "the engine of the porn industry", according to Alec Helmy, the publisher of XBIZ, a sex-trade industry journal. Theresa Senft herself became a camgirl for a year while doing four years of research for her 2008 book entitled, Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks.
Senft has described herself as "the first academic camgirl" while becoming a “camgirl writing about camgirls.”"The men I meet online rarely fall into the category of anonymous asses who have abandoned all social etiquette, nor do they resemble the pasty, calculator-wristwatch-wearing forebears of chat rooms past.
Princeton University sociologist and author of The Purchase of Intimacy, Viviana Zelizer, states of camming: "They’re defining a new kind of intimacy.
It’s not traditional sex work, not a relationship, but something in between." Within Cam Girlz, a documentary film about the industry, the male fans often say that they come to camming sites as a way to fulfill emotional needs.
Within public chat rooms the audience can see tips and viewer comments as scrolling text which appears next to the real-time video stream.
Camgirls will frequently read and respond to the scrolling viewer comments.
Webcam performers are often highly entrepreneurial, and use mainstream social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, and Tumblr to build and maintain relationships with their customers.
Camming revenue has been severely cutting into the profits of the pornographic movie business, which has also been eroded for a number of years due to piracy and the distribution of free sexual content upon the Internet.
Additionally, the pornographic film industry used to be male-dominated except for the performers.
Since the early days of live webcasts by Ringley and Amanda, the phenomenon of camming has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry which has an average of at least 12,500 cam models online at any given time and more than 240,000 viewers at any given time.
Camming websites typically fall into two main categories, dependent upon whether their video chat rooms are free or private.