This report will cover MY experience on Twitch, it covers the difference in my expectations versus my genuine campaign through this digital artifact. From this report you can expect three main things; the assessment of my particular para-text (The Streamer Landscape) which will be influenced by my opinions as someone who has existed in the space, a breakdown and comparison of my expectation as I felt they were presented to me by the Twitch Affiliate program and finally a evidence backed Viability Assessment for those thinking they want to enter into this program. I cannot stress enough that this report is being informed not just by lecture sources and articles but also my experience, one I enjoyed but didn’t have a lot of success in at least were viewership is concerned.
In regards to the analytical framework I utilized:
This framework touches upon the three most important aspects of the streamer experience as I discovered them, and how my viewers experience changed as I slowly became more proficient at wrangling them.
Sources wise I tried to focus on the Lecture and Subject source I found most helpful during my learning period and then outsourced mostly for audience and modal analysis. I settled on these five articles as my key source but will have a bibliography at the end for all sources as well as streamers I used as inspiration:
- HISTORIES OF INTERNET GAMES AND PLAY: SPACE, TECHNIQUE, AND MODALITY by Teodor Mitew and Christopher Moore (1)
- Invigorating Play : the Role of Affect in Online Multiplayer FPS Games by
Christopher Moore (2)
- Case Study: Australia’s Computer Games Audience and Restrictive Ratings System by Jeffrey E. BRAND, Jill BORCHARD & Kym HOLMES (3)
- Streaming on Twitch: Fostering Participatory Communities of Play within Live Mixed Media by William A. Hamilton, Oliver Garretson, and Andruid Kerne (4)
- Streaming media: audience and industry shifts in a networked society by Benjamin Edward Burroughs (5)
Without further preamble I begin with a summarized recount of my experience.
Landscape Analysis/ Recount Summary
Lets not mince words, my stream (TheOnlyArkon) was not on Twitch’s shortlist of hot up and comers. Although it is still in its infancy in the long term, these last few months have been a series of learning failures with very few success. My primary success will be mentioned in a moment and if you don’t laugh at it then frankly you are angel who need to loosen up.
In the vein of my analytical framework I assumed viewership and time would be the only currency or economy I would be spending but as I discovered cash oils the way. I spent some capital on a decent starter pack for some pre-made overlays and so on. this made my stream look slick and professional
Similarly in regards to management; I started with a goal in mind: Complete the requirements for the Affiliate achievement. Simple and easy, at least I thought that. To get this badge and become an affiliate you are required to reach 50 followers (at this time I have 14), this is the only requirement that doesn’t reset each month. I had about three shots at reaching affiliate of the semester each period required me to stream on 7 separate days, stream for 8 hours at least and have an average of 3 viewers over the course of your whole stream record. Individually those last three were achievable but what keep me away from completing this task was the overall followers, most of mine came from friends and the ones that aren’t didn’t bring much fresh appeal to the stream.
My opening stream was on August 1st and was one of my more successful streams, mostly due to my friends hypebeasting it up and all tuning in to help get my average viewership up. As shown in this stream report I did quite well for a first timer, with a decent stream time great average viewership and the best live viewership I’ve had to date.
Immediately I noticed an issue though, as friends do my chat was filling quickly with shit posting and inappropriate content. I needed a moderator and I didn’t have many choices so I decided to manipulate my boys a little. I told them that the best moderator amount them would be my full time mod, thus generating a sort of secret police who only watched each other. That solved the shit posting problem but was a crippling mistake in hindsight. My reasoning behind the move was simply that they were going to be the majority if not my entire audience for an extended period of time, It was small thinking and its my opinion that that small thinking crippled my process as it started a theme of minimizing. I was originally complimenting my stream with tweets letting my followers know i was starting soon, with the intention of creating a regular schedule to stick to later. However, I never got to that stage as The tweets always seemed to do just enough, bringing one or two of my friend to a stream.
After my opening stream I experienced a small period of grace, were in I simply started it up and did whatever, but soon even my friends didn’t want to watch that, not that they were as the gimmick of a mate streaming wore off very quickly. I needed to settle on a single thing to do on stream, a game or activity to put in my tags and allow a regular expectancy to my stream. “Streamers are not passive users of the Internet but are active producers or bricoleurs” as stated in source 5 (see above) was the kick I needed to help my selection process.
I did some research into the games i played and for upcoming expansions or events, something that would be live, fresh and current. This way I could bring some traffic my way by contributing to the shared experience, piggy backing of the participatory media we where discussing in the tutorials. By doing this I could hijack the affect generated by someone tuning into a stream and see someone strive for something they were also striving for ore participating in an event they have just seen pop up on their Twitter feed or Facebook log. The power of Affect was discussed best in the conclusion to Source 2 (That’s one of yours Chris!) “Affect is one of many non representational ways of expanding the critical frame for thinking and talking about the transformative aspects of….games”. My desire to improve the viewership of my stream led me to look inward and critically analyze which activity to partake in as a way to form a personal affect.
I watered down my options to two games, League of Legends or Destiny 2. Very different choices but both ones I had experience with, and people to play with. League of Legends has a grand final in motion at the moment and has always been popular on the Twitch MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) scene. Unfortunately I deemed it a little too popular, the market for League is incredibly saturated with much better and enjoyable players involved. Instead i decided to run with Destiny 2, an FPS/MMO (First Person Shooter/Massively Multiplayer Online) that features a unique fire team system, loot collection, raids and most importantly a massive DLC (Downloadable Content) expansion named “Shadow Keep” on its way.
Even mainstays of the Destiny 2 Streamer community such as ‘Datto‘ and ‘Th3Jez‘ were testifying that this expansion, that featured a haunted moon and a hive of monsters, would bring a significant amount of people back to Destiny 2. I needed to ride that wave, and I did.
My Destiny 2 Streams got me back some traffic, as did my tweets but at that point I had about two weeks left on my deadline for this assignment which left me in a bit of trouble. My average stream was plateauing again looking something like this:
Not great overall anymore but then it happened something that topped off my overall experience with a small laugh and a bit of concern. I forgot to turn off my stream. I streamed all night, passed out at my desk after some homework, woke up and did it again, all without relising. Somehow i got more concurrent viewers on this stream than any other. People liked the meme of someone forgetting this crucial fact. I streamed for 44 hours and change that stream, got three achievements and had a hell of a time.
My mates had a laugh at this and my viewership jumped a bit as they came back to enjoy the antics. They also began making their own channels which brought viewers my way as I was always on their streams.
It was at this point I realized something had changed significantly and that was my attitude. I had gone from basically recording silence to talking to my stream like it was an audience, a great example of this was my Night Owl Streams, where I player Magic: The Gathering either really early in the morning or really late at night, no Discord friends to talk to just the open silence and me, and I did awesomely, I explained my moves I broke down my strategy. I felt like an audience was there even though besides one guy there really wasn’t. I got good feedback from this dude though, and it reminded me of the importance of membership and its relation to the management section of my framework. Source 4 states this plainly as “The status of membership is developed through personal investment in the community, yielding feelings of the right to
belong and community identity” and the feedback I got really inspired me to continue this project after the DA is over and done with.
One thing I really wish I had now as the start was the importance of Highlight Video, Twitch encourages you to make them after a finished stream to encourage people to come back but I just never felt I had the time.
Overall my experience was a ineffective but incredibly educational toe dip into the pool of the streaming para text.
Expectations vs Reality
You can breakdown the expectations into a single category, free form, on the fly money making. Once a stream is up and running actually making content is pretty up to bar with the expectations, you chill with friends and talk to viewers and mess around and people just like tuning in. What didn’t meet the expectation was the off stream workload. Im not saying I didn’t expect it to be hard I just didn’t think some of it would be as tedious as it was, time management and such.
This viability report will take the form of a decisive plan that I feel would lead to at least some success in the field of someone who wanted to transition from a part time work full time student position into a full time streamer position. Then I will present whether this is a realistic goal and how the Affiliate program helped or hindered this level of realism, plus why I have deemed it so.
- Capital – This plays into the economy aspect of my analytical framework and regards both some start up cash as you will need a decent microphone, computer and other hardware but also in regard to experience. a certain level of fame, perhaps a Twitter audience or blog regulars will really assist in getting the required average viewer count up to par. One of my case studies was The Bajostream, hosted by ex-host of the Good Game show on ABC Bajo. His ability to swing his old audience into his new one benefited his stream. Source 4 states “Sometimes people seem to place more eminence on you, because you are around a lot of the time”
- Access to High Speed Internet – Medium to low speed wont cut it, period. You will need to be either running a graphically high quality online game (in my case), operating streaming software and utilizing quality of life stream apps like Spotify and YouTube.
- A Willingness to Learn – The second most time absorbing task in the streaming process for me was the setting up of my visual board. I bought my starter pack for around 70 dollars, allowing me access to high quality overlays, but there came with that no instructions to insert them into my Streamlab or Twitch channel visual page. This learning curve took several weeks.
Process and Game Plan
This piece really only needs to be broken down into three sections: Schedule, Topic and Attitude.
Here is what got me, I did not stream on a specific schedule. If I had done that, every day for an hour even at a set time, I would have been an Affiliate within the first month, that is my honest opinion. Streaming is a new form of media but some things will always transfer, television had a set time, you know when your game will be one and when your soap opera is playing because they advertise the times then you don’t need the ads because you know when its on.
My schedule would have been three times a week for 6 hours, from around 4 till 10. If anyone was to check my videos they would see I did not stick to that schedule at all. My largest series of regularity was my Night Owl Streams from midnight to morning. Someone with a part time job and a uni schedule would be able to pull this off, as long as they were willing to give up there remaining free time but as stated in Source 1 “the PC platform should be imagined as a nodal extension of the Internet in the home and the Internet café” which I personally associate with time spent in relaxation. Thus the allotting of time to this task could eventually be considered relaxation and not a whole hideous task taking up your free time, at least in the early days.
So you have a schedule, now you need a topic, a game or activity you play exclusively. Variety streamers can do well but as discovered in an Emergence article in 2018 they suffer from a lack of early interest and thus solo streaming is advised for this project. pick something that is predictable about to experience a massive upward shift in popularity, but also something you can enjoy or compete in.
Attitude wise (what a slam dunk as far as the analytical framework is concerned by the way), you need to practice speaking to your audience even when they are not there. Dose this make you look crazy to your roommates and freak out the single viewer who joins to you mid conversation with no one? Yes. Does it have a healthy effect on the affect of your stream later on? Yes, absolutely.
Your attitude as a streamer is your money maker, your humor and style of conversation is what will ultimately draw people to your stream. It can be the crude almost childish wit of Kryoz Gaming or the meme based dad jokes of Phillip DeFranco.
With these three important factors even a young person in my position could transition into a long term position streaming on any of the major platforms, but esspecially if the goal is to reach the Affiliate landmarks.
So whats the final assessment, honestly I pretty mad at myself, if I had managed my time better this semester, I could have a flourishing stream and simply on my way to partner, I can tangible see the career path this Digital Artefact could, and honestly still could, be for me.
It’s not only realistic to consider the Affiliate goals attainable by partnership is only a couple steps away from that. In my opinion with the level of automation and the transition to participatory preferred media it will probably be the more viable then an actors position.
Major sources listed in Foreword – the following were used as inspirational influencing material.
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/th3jez [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/kryozgaming [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/datto [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/tobyonthetele [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/bajostream [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/fitz [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/therainman [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].
- Twitch. (2019). Twitch. [online] Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/criticalrole [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].