I’ve engaged with streaming as a medium for quite a long time. Even before the existence of Twitch, I remember being glued to my computer when I stumbled on the Devastation 2009 Street Fighter IV tournament that was broadcast on Ustream.
Though I would become an avid viewer of fighting game tournaments from that point onward, I didn’t really immerse myself in the medium as a streamer or as an engaged viewer until 2018. During that time, my streaming efforts finally started to generate some momentum and I discovered how amazing it can be to watch and engage with streams as a viewer.
These days, I’m deep in the trenches. Singing or rapping my heart out at the start of every stream. Spamming emotes in a fellow streamer’s chat. Inviting streamer friends over for ice cream. Spending countless hours in front of the computer programming in new elements into my own show. It takes up more of my time than any other hobby.
Here are some reasons why I’ve become so enthralled with the medium!
Ability to connect with cool people from all over the world
Live streaming’s biggest strength as a medium is that it facilitates real-time human interaction between viewers and streamers. My primary reason for going live is to connect with you. You enrich my life with your stories, ideas, support, and unique perspectives on the world. Without this platform, we probably wouldn’t have connected the same way, if at all.
I aim to return the favour by providing you with a stream that adds value to your life. It’s so heartwarming to hear from you how this show has made an impact. Whether you watch as relief from a tough day at work, or have me on in the background while you do something else, or I’ve inspired you to try streaming yourself, it’s an honour to be a positive force in your life. Will continue to focus my efforts on making my streams worth your time!
Making quality content within a live medium
Creating content is a passion of mine. Been writing regularly for this site for over a decade. I have experience podcasting. Before that, I had a brief career in radio broadcasting. Still have ambitions of finally getting my YouTube video content up-to-snuff too.
The medium of live streaming comes with a host of unique challenges that I want to figure out. It’s a personality-driven space where viewers spend countless hours with their favourite streamers because of the companionship that the streamer provides. When the connection becomes particularly strong, you’ll tune into your fave streamers regardless of what games they’re playing or activities they’re doing. Even if you never directly engage with the streamer in chat, that parasocial bond can grow to be incredibly powerful.
This is also a medium where the streamer is expected to provide value for hours on end with no real stoppages. Even when you’re in an intermission and just chatting with your audience, you still have to carry that conversation. No opportunity to edit anything out if you stumble or if a bit doesn’t land the way you think it would.
Furthermore, the novelty of watching someone else simply play a video game has long worn out. There are so many other places to consume that type of content that it’s not that interesting to see gameplay footage paired with the player staring blankly at their screen, not saying a word. If you want to put out a stream that stands out, you really have to offer your viewers more than just video game action.
On top of all that, I want to make streaming content that can find life after the show goes off air. Granted, I understand that the audience for long-form stream VODs is incredibly small. However, I actively try to create moments during my live shows that that also hit as shorter clips.
The learning curve is steep, but it’s a joy adapting my content creation style for this medium. From bombastic concerts, to running a game show, hosting 24 hour marathons in support of charity, to deep conversations about mental health, it’s some of the best stuff I’ve made across any medium. With the recent addition of Channel Point effects, I’m giving you the power to make my content even better. Creating live content is such a blast and I hope that comes through every time you watch my stream.
Being a part of a community and culture (as a streamer and a viewer)
For years, I never said a single word in the chat. Didn’t get the appeal of throwing my words out there in a chat filled with messages from strangers flying through at the speed of light. It wasn’t until I started engaging with smaller streamers where I began to understand the appeal. Over time, you can become part of a community.
It’s great to see others take centre stage and cheer them on through the chat. I also enjoy taking part in conversations with the streamer and with other viewers. When a rapport is developed, it’s easier to make inside jokes, references, spam custom emotes, and be a part of a culture.
Ironically, most of the streamers and other chatters I’ve gotten closest to are fellow game writers on WordPress. Though I follow their blogs, I have a much closer connection to them through our frequent interactions on Twitch. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but much love to these fine folks for their contributions as streamers and as viewers within our #CoolKidsOfWordpressOnTwitch community!
- Later Levels
- Double Jump
- Adventure Rules
- Gaming Diaries
- Dan from nowisgames.com
- Switch To Decaf
Developing an understanding of different types of streaming technology
For streamers who aren’t using the built-in tools within their consoles, there’s a lot of tech behind the scenes to make even the simplest of shows run. Streaming software, capture cards, microphones, and webcams are just the start.
Going into this, I had no knowledge on how to make any of this work. On top of that, I was working with subpar equipment. At times, the stress that came with not being able to overcome my technical challenges was overwhelming.
Still don’t have all the answers to my questions. If anything, I have way more questions now than I did when I started. But going through those struggles really helped me understand the importance of mastering every tool in my toolbox.
Even when I don’t have the answers, I no longer approach technology with a sense of fear or uncertainty. Instead, it’s an opportunity to improve my content. Finally getting my mic configured properly ensures that you can hear me clearly when I whisper or scream. Having multiple cameras brings you closer to the space. The voice changer has gone a long way towards amplifying my personality. Most recently, the inclusion of Channel Point effects allow you to add your creative touch to every show.
Going the other way, one of my favourite streams in recent memory was the spray paint art stream. That one was as lo-fi as it gets, as it was nothing more than my phone propped up on plastic shelves. Still did the trick and allowed for us to share that experience!
Looking beyond the bitrates, resolutions, and compressor settings, mastering streaming tech gives me more opportunities to connect with you through my content. Always looking to improve the stream however I can!
Ability to express myself in a free-form manner
In a live format, there’s no time for editing. If you mess up in the game, hold the L. If you stumble on your words, just keep going. Being unfiltered can be incredibly intimidating for some, but I personally am more comfortable in this environment.
What I like about streaming is that it gives us enough runway to talk about anything we want. Sure, I have a pretty strict rule around cursing (don’t), and there are some subjects I try to avoid, but I actively encourage conversation around nearly everything. There’s so much to talk about beyond the frame rates in level 3 or the best counter pick to character X. Let’s discuss music, movies, dating, life during these unprecedented times, ice cream, and more!
I ultimately want to create a vibe where we’re just a group of friends hanging out in my basement. Feel confident that we’ll treat your opinions with respect and provide support where we can. Let’s engage in a healthy debate if we don’t see eye-to-eye. And let’s all grow as fully-formed people together.
Opportunity to play video games and share those experiences with others
The irony of this whole streaming situation is that I rarely play video games off-stream anymore. With so much time dedicated towards improving the stream, writing for the blog, creating content for social media, and other life obligations, the only solid time I have to play anything is during my stream.
A while back, I made the executive decision to not stream every game I play. I know that playing certain games helps the channel more than others, so I tend to lean towards those that I enjoy playing that also attract a wider – but not too wide – audience. Go with a game that’s too popular – such as Fortnite – and it will be physically impossible for viewers to find your channel amongst 10,000+ other live channels in that category.
Even so, I still try to find opportunities to play things just because I want to. I spent an extended chunk of time playing through Paper Mario for the first time and that game was fantastic! Stardew Valley was intended as a one-off but grew into a staple of the channel. Overwatch is one of the most saturated games on Twitch but I play it regularly cause it’s fun for me to play and stream. Florence is far from a hot title on Twitch, but it’s a game I adore and I’m so glad to have shared this one with others who may have missed it otherwise.
For those that take the plunge, the wider world of streaming can be a fabulous place as a viewer and as a streamer. It’s a great place to find a community of like-minded individuals and share in an assortment of experiences together.
As a viewer or a streamer, what do you enjoy about the medium?
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