A fundamental challenge with game streaming is that you have to find a way to split your attention between the game you’re playing and the audience you’re entertaining. Being able to manage these disparate tasks is a challenge, but it’s a skill that one can develop with practice.
Introducing friends into the mix divides your attention even further. In the heat of the moment, it’s incredibly easy to forget about your audience as you banter with your friends. While there’s a certain level of communication required for teams to coordinate with one another, a stream where the dialogue only consists of teammates calling out sniper positions or yelling for healing doesn’t make for a great viewing experience.
Even between matches, don’t assume the banter between you and your friends is inherently engaging from a viewer’s perspective. By focusing solely on your group chat, viewers can feel like voyeurs in your gaming session rather than welcome members of the experience. When viewers feel like they’re creeping on you, they’re more likely to leave.
Here are some things you can do to make your squad streams better from a viewer’s perspective!
One of my favourite non-gaming corners of Twitch to visit is the music section. From musicians showcasing their talents, to producers talking shop about the creative process, to DJ sets that give me something to listen to for extended sessions, there’s a lot of entertainment to be had here.
I also think there’s a lot that we as game streamers can learn from music streamers, even if we don’t have a musical bone in our bodies.
At a certain point in my streaming journey, I made a very important distinction for myself:
Playing video games and streaming are two separate activities.
Making this adjustment has helped me manage managing my mental health while also putting myself in a better position to work towards my streaming goals. Here’s how I differentiate between the two and how I benefit.
What makes for a good streaming overlay? With streaming as a medium still in its infancy, the answer is rapidly-evolving and highly-subjective. Once upon a time, overlays weren’t a thing. Then we moved into a phase where streamers filled the screen with design elements and widgets. These days, the new wave is a larger camera view within your gameplay scene so that viewers get a better view of the streamer.
Furthermore, overlays aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. As one example, I greatly prefer the look of streams that put the camera overtop of full-width gameplay. However, that particular presentation style doesn’t work for speed-runners who display their time splits on the side or for retro games that are presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Based on my experiences of watching Twitch and tinkering with my own overlay, here are aspects of overlay design that I like. There are links to every streamer I reference in case you’re interested in checking them out. I’m by no means an expert on overlay design. Just using this post to share design elements that I appreciate!
Earlier this year, YouTube launched its Shorts video format. YouTube Shorts are vertically-oriented videos with a browsing mechanism similar to TikTok. Even in this early stage, a number of creators have greatly expanded their reach through this new format.
With YouTube being a priority for me, I decided to start making videos within the Shorts format. I was already making clips for Twitter and Instagram, so making YouTube Shorts was simply a matter of reformatting them for a vertical screen.
As it turns out, that YouTube Shorts vertical format is also same as TikTok. Though I’ve been reluctant to support more platforms with my content, I figured that if I’m going to make vertically-oriented clips for YouTube anyway, why not also post them on TikTok for greater reach with little extra effort?
Thus far, not much has come out of YouTube Shorts. TikTok though…
Your voice is your most valuable asset as a streamer. No one else in the world sounds exactly like you. No one else has your exact perspective on the world. No one else can share your specific insight on a game or subject. The more you use your voice, the more you will stand out amongst the masses, even if you’re playing the same games as everyone else.
In spite of this power that we all wield, countless streamers under-utilize their voice. They sit silently for minutes at a time, even when some are streaming with the best microphone audio can buy. Considering how first impressions are usually made in seven seconds or less, viewers may be leaving in droves because your silence gives viewers the sense that you’re just another streamer playing a video game with nothing else to offer.
Coming up with stuff to talk about for hours on end is difficult, especially if you’re not the talkative type. Thankfully, there’s a convenient source of material to draw from right in front of your face: the game you’re playing. By narrating and commenting on you’re in-game actions, thought process, and reactions, you’ll almost always have something of value to say. Here are some tips for narrating and commentating like a pro!
Streaming to zero viewers isn’t something to be ashamed of. Roughly 88% of active streamers have an average concurrent viewership of 0-5 viewers. Many in that group never see viewers at all. It took me about a year of floundering on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch before finally finding my footing above the 0-viewer threshold.
For those who have ambitions of climbing out of that hole, maybe I can help? Though I certainly don’t have the experience or wisdom to help you become the next Ninja, the experience I do have may be enough to get you past 0-viewer Andy status.
Using the site nobody.live for reference, I decided to watch over 100 0-viewer streams and make note of some common factors that could be holding these streamers back. Here are some common challenges I noted and some potential solutions for overcoming them!
During the peak of my Among Us frenzy, my wife and I stumbled on a jacksepticeye video of him and a number of other top gaming content creators playing the game together. During the voting phase, the camera punched inward to focus on Jack, making for a better viewing experience in that moment. Other streamers do this with their VODs as well, such as Pokimane, Disguised Toast, Ninja, and more.
The thing is, this zoom effect is done after the fact in a video editor. But could an entrepreneurial streamer implement that same effect in a live environment?
I have implemented it on my stream and I love having for the sake of having an “aside” with viewers without taking them completely out of the game. Here is how you can implement this zoom-in during gameplay!
One of the big criticisms levied at OBS versus other broadcast software is that it doesn’t have the chat and event list built in. Having to look at different windows to see all of the information you need as a streamer is a nightmare, which oftentimes drives users to alternatives.
Some go to Streamlabs OBS, which does offer these features, as well as direct integration with Streamlabs alerts and overlays. While this is more than enough for some, its walled-garden approach gives it a much lower ceiling from a technical perspective if you really want to push your streams to the limit. I used to use StreamElements OBS Live, but recent hiccups in the software would cause my OBS to crash on start-up. Uninstalling it did the trick and I’ll never recommend it again.
So what does one do now? Well, there’s actually a very easy trick to add your chat, event lists, stats, or anything you can see in a web browser inside OBS! Best of all, you don’t need to install any intrusive software to make this work!
OBS is the go-to broadcasting software for streamers. It’s incredibly powerful and it’s free. If you don’t already have it, grab it here! Putting together your first stream isn’t that difficult, but you can really take your stream to the next level with a few tidbits of advice you may have missed along your journey.
Here are my top 10 tips for streaming like a pro in OBS!
Actually, there are 11 tips, but “top 10” works better for SEO purposes and #11 might be the most important tip of all. Let’s get to the tips!