Video games have been a passion of mine since I received a Sega Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog in Kindergarten. Starting with Sonic, I moved to other consoles (Playstation, N64, Ps4,) and eventually joined the PC gaming crew. Gaming has been a lifelong hobby for me and I don’t foresee stopping anytime soon. One of the relatively new aspects of gaming that has intrigued me is the surge of individuals streaming their gaming online. Years ago I remember watching the early streams of gaming and wondering, “Why would anyone want to watch this when you can play the game yourself?”
This was my long-held mentality until I began playing Overwatch religiously. Overwatch pulled me in hook, line, and sinker. The competitive gameplay along with the ranking mechanic made the game addictive. I’d play long hours into the night working hard to sharpen my skills to get better and better. I watched YouTube videos, read guides, but surprisingly the most helpful tool was watching the streams of top Overwatch players. I started following the best of the best in Overwatch trying to glean any tips and tricks that would better my own game. It was during this time that I noticed that streams weren’t just a form of entertainment for viewers, but also a place of community. Streamers interacted with their followers, and it wasn’t uncommon to see regulars in stream channels.
Even while watching the streams of others I didn’t have much interest in starting my own until recently.
One month ago my friends Gimmick, Virindi Puppet, and I started Hey You Video Game. We began a podcast, blog, and YouTube channel creating gaming related content for all of the human beings on this big beautiful planet. We started our own Twitch channel with the idea that we could use it on the occasions that we had a LAN. The Twitch channel has been mostly untouched since it’s creation, but now that the initial flurry of activity of launching Hey You Video Game has subsided I (Lemonsmith) decided to try out this stream thing. I read a few guides, set up my account, and decided the best thing to do was to give it a go and see if it was for me. My goal was to develop a small community and get at least a few people to follow me. I’ve always been the type of person that has enjoyed documenting my experiences, and thought that this could be a helpful tool for others starting a Twitch channel.
Below I’ll share the beginning of my Twitch journey, but I’d recommend bookmarking this page (or following the blog) because I plan on releasing a monthly post detailing my journey into Twitch. With this said, here’s my journey so far.
Stream #1 (~1hr) – I started my stream without a webcam, but with a microphone. I loaded up Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds naming my stream “CAR KILLS ONLY!” and made it my goal to only kill enemies by vehicular manslaughter. My thinking was that this creative way of playing PUBG would differentiate me from the masses who stream this very popular game. If you’ve never tried playing PUBG this way STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING NOW and DO IT!
It was so fun! I ended up in the top 20 with four kills, and found it satisfying to stalk enemies while cruising in the Dacia. Perching on top of mountains behind the wheel I’d watch an enemy loot through houses. The moment the player ran into an open field I roared my engine and fired down the countryside to flatten the victim like a pancake. This works especially well in solo, because the one person will have a hard time shooting at you as you drive straight at them (opposed to a whole team gunning you down). Good freaking times.
As for the stream portion….no one watched. My guess is that it was a combination of PUBG being saturated with a million streamers already, and the fact that I didn’t have a webcam.
Stream 2 (~6hrs) – Deciding that PUBG wouldn’t be a good place to build a following, I searched for a smaller game. I found a demo for a bright & fun looking game called Slime Rancher. Having nothing to lose I downloaded it, and began playing. I named my stream “Slime Rancher 1st Time. Teach me how to play!”. Slime Rancher is a mixture of puzzles, exploration, and farming. You walk around with a vacuum to capture and breed cute little slimes while exploring the island that you’re on. It’s genuinely fun, and I had a great time playing.
More so people joined my stream! At one point another Slime Rancher channel hosted me. There was a moment when I had 8 people watching! Knowing that my microphone was the only contact I had with my audience I started talking about the game, making jokes, and trying to engage the audience. The two most vocal people watching generously gave me pointers and tips on how to play the game. Even though Slime Rancher is a solo game it felt like I was playing with someone else. Before ending the stream I asked everyone to follow me if they’d like to continue watching my Slime Rancher story progress at a later time. The two more active viewers gave me a follow.
Stream #3 – After the second stream I decided to spruce up my channel. My friend Gimmick created logos and banners with a true Lemonsmith theme (see the image at the top of this post!) and I bought a webcam. Specifically I bought Logitech’s C922x Pro Stream Webcam, because it allowed for background replacement and had over 8000+ that were mostly very positive.
I started up the stream to play more Slime Rancher believing that my webcam would instantly draw more viewers. I learned a hard truth. Using a webcam does not guarantee viewers. Naively I imagined that my smiling face would bring in 100’s of followers. This wasn’t the case. In fact, I only had two people watch my stream with one of them give me a following. I think he followed me because he felt bad for me, because I couldn’t solve a puzzle in Slime Rancher.
Stream #4 (~1hr) – Deciding to change it up I streamed the FPS Escape from Tarkov. There’s a larger community on Twitch and I wanted to see if I’d experience more views in this game. I called my stream “Everything must go before WIPE” because the game was going to be patched and all items/xp/money would be wiped soon. I used my best gear and my friends used their best gear as well. We played for an hour without a single view. Slightly defeated by no response I stopped the stream.
Three Things I Learned From My First Streams
1. A nice microphone, webcam, and good-looking channel doesn’t ensure viewers.
I don’t know why I felt this way, but deep down I believed that if I had the right tools than there would be automatic viewership. This clearly isn’t the case. Followers aren’t attracted because you meet the bare necessities of a stream.
2. Your Living Situation can Impact Your Stream
I work a 40-hour a week job and am in my first year of marriage. My time for gaming these days is limited to the late hours of the night. My personality is regularly loud, talkative, and outgoing, but streaming in the house with a sleeping wife creates limitations to streaming. I can’t talk loudly, yell, or be as expressive, because I’m worried about waking my wife up. Your living situation needs to be taken into consideration if you’re planning on regularly streaming.
3. Building a Twitch Community Takes Time
Unless someone points me to an example, building a twitch community takes time. A single hour stream isn’t enough to gain followers. If you want a loyal community you need to put in the time to build it. People can hardly get to know you if they’re only watching you play for short batches of time. It takes time to build any relationship and Twitch is the same.
Final Thoughts Until the Next Update on my Twitch Journey (coming in October).
- I’d like to work on consistent weekly stream times that are longer. Is it possible to build a viewership with 12 hour of streams a week?
- I’ve heard that it’s better to play one game consistently rather than multiple. I think Slime Rancher has too small of a community, and will search for a fun game that is a bit larger.
- I’ll be tinkering with my OBS settings as I believe that my computer/internet connection is capable of a higher quality video stream. Right now there are occasional moments of lag and the quality is mediocre.