Obsverations on Broadcaster Etiquette

Over the course of my time spent streaming and interacting with other streamers I’ve noticed different things about how each of them acts or handles specific kinds of situations.

I’m sure all of these have been called out before, some more than others, but I felt like offering my own take. Let’s start with the Bad Etiquette.

The Faux Supporter

For a long while I’d only ever seen others mention this kind of behavior. Until recently. I’ve now personally experienced having someone come in to my chat, say something along the lines of “Hey, just wanted to drop in and say hi and show some support before I went Live.” and then they leave just as quickly. I had only seen this individual in my chat and in friends chats a handful of times over the course of maybe a month. We talked and interacted at least a little bit each time, but never enough to really form a connection or be considered on amicable terms. Then they pull that move and I was just baffled. Why? Did this person not actually understand what ‘support’ meant? They literally Grandpa Simpson’d me. Thankfully, I haven’t seen this individual since that incident so I’ve had time to think over how I would further respond to that kind of action, but it’s just as irritating as it is baffling to me.

The Linker

This one is interesting, and easily dealt with. This person can be either a broadcaster or a regular viewer that doesn’t stream at all. They both do the same thing, but oftentimes the intent behind the action is different. In the case of the broadcaster what they do is for exposure and/or bragging. They take a clip of their stream and try to post it in another streamers chat. Unless they’re on good terms with that streamer, they’re usually easily blocked. No posting links either because of AutoMod, a moderator bot, or a regular mod doing what they do best. I still see it happen from time to time, but it’s usually easy to ignore because of how easily it’s handled. That doesn’t diminish what it says about them though.

The Donater

I feel like these individuals are more often just throwing away money. Sure, they might be monetarily supporting another streamer, but their intent is clear as day. Donating money just to have your name and message flash across the screen for people to see. The message usually contains the same kind of content. Things that call out they’re a streamer too and want to be noticed. (We get it, it’s hard to get viewers and build your community, but this isn’t the right way.)

So, unless you’re in a stream where it’s common practice to have someone drop a donation to recommend a Host or Raid candidate, you might typically see more of these come through from the broadcaster themselves rather than a friend of their channel.

The Raid Leader

I don’t see this one very often anymore, nor always in a poor light, but I have seen it used terribly before. In this case, the broadcaster incites their viewers to go raid another streamers channel without actually invoking the Raid function. This particular behavior can have a couple of different results based on the intent of the broadcaster, or the lack of control over their community.

The first one is toxic flooding. A broadcaster is, ultimately, the one responsible for having built up the community they see in their chat, and if they let it be a semi-lawless mess then it ends up being toxic and chaotic. So when they start looking into another streamer (who may be live at the same time) they may be inadvertently inviting their own viewers to go flood the unsuspecting target of their investigation. This can be detrimental to the recipient streamer if they haven’t experienced it before. A sudden influx of viewers gets their hopes up, only to be brought back down quickly when they realize how toxic they are, and suddenly they aren’t enjoying themselves anymore. It takes away from their experience of streaming and leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

The second version, and arguably the worst one, is when the broadcaster themselves ACTUALLY calls for their viewers to go blow up the other streamers channel. This one is worse because it emboldens their viewership and supports the idea that being toxic is okay. (There’s actually another version of this behavior, but I’ll explain it further down.)

The final one I’ll touch on in this category of behavior is related to the first. The broadcaster might not be trying to call attention to another streamer regardless of how they encountered each other, but their community is still going to have individuals who go on an unsolicited raid once they figure out who it is.

All of these raid behaviors are a product of the broadcaster’s personality and the way they’ve built up their community.

I probably missed an example of something in there somewhere but I still have more to go over.

Now let us go over some of the positive behaviors I’ve seen when it comes to broadcaster etiquette.

The Gifter

This isn’t totally new, but has seen an increase lately. Ever since Twitch implemented the ability to gift multiple subscriptions at once, it has become easier for people to support their favorite communities and streamers. In this case, the broadcaster wants to help another streamer out, so they drop a large number of gift subscriptions on them. This gives a positive mental boost to the recipient streamer and can help their community feel more involved. I’ve seen this behavior paired up with another one I’ve already alluded to above, but suffice to say it can be used to a greatly positive affect.

The Raid Leader (again)

This category on the positive side? You bet! This is actually the one that inspired me to write this entry at all.

The Raid Leader can be a positive, supportive force as well. I’ve seen it first hand when a broadcaster acts with good intent in this category of behavior. The second reason above in the negative version can be flipped on its head. The broadcaster incites their community to go raid another live channel for the express purpose of helping them gain exposure at no cost to them. They wind up sharing followers, bolstering the total number of the recipient to help them grow their community. Often times, though, it isn’t some random streamer they found but was one who they were previously familiar with.

A subset of this behavior is when they ARE looking for a legitimate Raid candidate because they themselves are ending stream for the time being. I was recently part of one of these situations on the recipient side as a channel moderator. Someone that was a common viewer and friend of both channels managed to pull some strings with the raiding broadcaster and I had a feeling I knew who it was (and they privately confirmed it for me almost immediately, making me promise not to tell. Don’t worry friend, I still haven’t told anyone it was you.) So it got me curious and I decided to look at the end of the VOD from the incoming streamer. This where it really struck to write this blog post. They said two things that I respected greatly. “Please don’t talk about me or my channel in there,” followed immediately by “we’re going in there to support them.” Respect where it’s due when a Partnered streamer says something like that going into a smaller stream.

I mentioned earlier that The Gifter behavior can be paired up with another. Here’s that case. A positive force of support, when The Raid Leader is also being The Gifter. They go in with their community on a legitimate Raid at the end of their own stream and shortly after hanging out for a bit they drop a large number of gift subscriptions to viewers. They’re attempting to bolster the recipient streamers community numbers but also somewhat enforce that increase.

I think I’ve ranted long enough, and I’m sure I missed some other great examples of both negative and positive broadcaster etiquette, but I want to end on a simple note.

At the end of the day, it is all about Respect. Respecting each other, and ourselves. If you have bad behaviors and etiquette (or provide an environment for toxicity to develop) as a broadcaster then you don’t really deserve respect for it. If you truly support one another in a positive way, and show respect for each others effort, then you deserve respect in return.

Do your best to stay awesome out there.

I was recently asked a very important question related to goals.

I was having a late night conversation with a friend on his Twitch stream and he mentioned that something had lit a fire under his ass to get something accomplished. My response was a comment about how I haven’t found the motivation to do the things I want to do, and followed with quoting Chris Tucker’s character from The Fifth Element “Korben my man I have no fire.”

Image result for fifth element i have no fire gif

He then asked what ARE the things I want to do? What are my goals? I had to mull over that question for a moment, and told him I should probably just make it a blog post, because it was going to be a long answer. After starting the draft for this post I continued thinking it over.

The next night we had continued part of the conversation during my own stream, but I didn’t want to go into too much detail on stream when I had already said I would write this entry, and my friend was also adamant I save it for the blog. So here we are now, and hopefully you are reading this.

My last couple of “5-year plans” were fairly simple. Graduate college. Done. Find a decent job that I could use my education towards. Done, although that one more or less fell in my lap after some minimal effort and a bit of luck. That one ended up falling through, though, and I had to take a few steps back. I put in some effort with that “networking” thing they say you should do and I was able to get back on track. After I got myself into a new job that fit well enough I figured I was good. But that’s where things kind of stagnated. I got comfortable and didn’t give a second thought to what I should try doing next. So back to the point. The questions. What are the things I want to do? What are my goals? What’s my current 5-year plan? I didn’t have a clear answer to give and needed to think things through before responding.

At this point, those were all the high level life goals I had and managed to accomplish. I would like to mention that I had other things I would have liked to do, but those things always got put on the back burner because they were of a lesser priority and wouldn’t guarantee I could pay my bills. Now that I have a little bit of security in my life, I can go back and revisit some of these ideas. The first of which was something I had wanted to do long ago. I wanted to write stories. Maybe write a novel or two and see where that takes me. The second thing I wanted to do was an idea introduced to me much more recently, and that was streaming.

Thinking back on these ideas, and what initially motivated me to pursue them as goals, I came to a couple of different conclusions

For writing it was the concept of being able to create worlds and dream up stories that I could share. I loved that idea, but because I had started it so young (all the way back in elementary school) I couldn’t properly nurture it on my own. I needed help to encourage and guide me. Outside of a few activities at school I never got the necessary push, so the idea withered. It didn’t outright die, as I’ve always kept dreaming and sharing my ideas, oftentimes without writing them down. Whether that was a mistake or not I can’t say for certain, but the ideas were out there and were being further developed in the back of mind, being influenced and shaped by the books I would read or the TV shows I watched. As I got older the importance of money was introduced into my life, and eventually I began to see writing for part of what it was to the authors. It was a job, albeit one they most likely enjoyed wholeheartedly. It was then that it clicked for me that maybe writing wasn’t something I wanted to do, because I had decided it wasn’t going to be worth my time when it came to earning a living. Looking back I could tell that something inside me hadn’t totally given up on the idea, because I was still curious. Through my time in high school and college I would occasionally read up on different authors thoughts about the subject of writing fiction novels as a career. The way they made novel publishing seem like a daunting task was, again, a bit of turn off. So I shelved the idea since I had already set myself on a different path by the time I had reached college. Now I want to revisit the idea and set some goals for myself.

On the subject of streaming, the idea intrigued me for a couple of different reasons. The first of which, since I was already an adult (maturity level subject to discussion), was that I could potentially make money from my hobby of playing video games. So I dug in. I did research, lurked in channels, made a variety of friends, all so I could understand what streaming really was. Shortly after I had officially started streaming the dots began connecting in my head, and I realized several things. The first thing I realized was that for some streamers it is a full time job, just like for authors who publish several novels year after year, but to get there it was going to take a lot of time and effort. So I tossed aside the idea of making money off of streaming, because with that kind of motivation I was only going to get angry and depressed when I would have undoubtedly discovered nearly no money being generated. After coming to terms with myself on that piece, I came to the second realization of what streaming actually was for someone who already played games as a hobby. Streaming was just an extension of my existing hobby. A hobby on top of another hobby. I could choose at my leisure if I wanted to stream, or not stream but still play games. The final realization, and arguably the most important one, was what streaming actually meant to me. I realized it was a way for me to share with others (there’s that concept again) and enjoy games with other people. It gave me an oddly familiar feeling. It was almost like the return of something I had done as a kid. My siblings and I shared our video games, and we loved watching each other play. So it’s no wonder I was able to quickly latch onto and become comfortable with streaming. After coming to these realizations I concluded one thing. If I wanted to continue streaming long term, and potentially return to the original motivating factor of earning money as a goal, I had to reconcile with myself about what it all meant to me. I had to reach a certain point of maturity. Yes, it would be great to make money doing something I love, but I needed to be doing it for the right reasons. After seeing the way things had turned out I had to come to terms with myself that I needed to have a much more noble goal, and that the money portion was not the object of importance. That’s when I started to tie things together in my head.

So, if you’ve read through to this point, thank you. Now that you’re more aware of a couple of the things I want to do, you might still be wondering what the goals are. After all the recent conversations and self-reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really only have one goal and it is quite simply stated as “To reach and have a positive influence on as many people as possible.”

Each thing that I want to do is going to have its own set of challenges, some similar and others unique, but accomplishing them could yield the results I want to see. It’s going to take long hours, lots of effort and sacrifice, but in the end it would be worthwhile to see that I’ve left my mark on the world. I think I’ll start right now.

To my friend “Manny” for getting me thinking, and inspiring me to write this blog entry. Thank you. Stay awesome, my friend, and I’ll see you on Twitch and Discord.

P.S. I’m a bit of a sucker for less popular films with cult followings.

Image result for never give up never surrender

Your streaming setup can be as complicated as you want.

There are plenty of guides out there on this subject, so this one won’t be a guide of any sorts but rather just a backstory of how my streaming setup evolved over the years. The idea being that you can start anywhere with streaming.

Building a Gaming Computer

The starting point was actually a couple of years before I even thought about streaming. At some point I decided to build my own gaming PC, and had a friend help me pick out parts for that project. Most of that first build is actually still in use as of the time that I’m writing this post.

Long side story for another time, but the same friend that helped me build my gaming PC also ended up becoming my roommate not long after the fact and ultimately influenced my decision to start streaming.

Making the Leap

Anyways, after a couple of years of playing on that PC, I made the leap to try streaming. I was on a single PC setup, the CPU was an i3-4340 and GPU was a GTX 760, so I wasn’t going to try anything too graphically intense. I think I started out playing a little bit of Terraria and Starbound. After a little bit of tinkering with my setup and trying to optimize what I had I ended up making small hardware upgrades. Staying on the single PC setup meant upgrading the RAM and the CPU first. So that’s what I did! I forget the exact timing of a lot of my purchases but at some point I upgraded the gaming PC to handle more intensive games, but some of the ones I was playing at that time (like PUBg) were still a little too much for good quality streams at the time, which eventually pushed me to decide to build a second PC to handle the workload of streaming. Before I made the jump, though, I did order a bunch of other things to try and increase the quality of my stream.

Digging in Further

Aside from the PC, there are a handful of things that get recommended for increasing the quality of a stream. I got a standalone condenser microphone with a USB interface (a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which has so far served me fairly well), and some studio headphones. The microphone was a nice addition, but it took a fair amount of tinkering and research to get it working right. There’s no telling how many times I ran into issues using it in OBS Studio. Maybe a story for another time, another blog post. Continuing on!

Two is Better than One

It was probably a year or so into streaming that I decided to build a second PC. I began by doing some research into how it could be done. I already had an internal capture card (an Elgato HD60 Pro) to stream console games, so I thought that would be fine to use. I took that out of the gaming PC, bought some parts for a second PC and used some of the spare parts left over after upgrading the gaming PC. Eventually I had myself a streaming PC, but it used that original i3-4340 so it wasn’t anything spectacular, but I did see an improvement in being able to play some games without issues while my stream was live. It wasn’t long after that I also made arrangements with another friend to buy some of his spare parts, and further upgraded the hardware of both PC’s. That’s all just on the hardware side, which is simpler in comparison to the things I did on the software side to complicate my streaming setup.

Extra Complicated?

Now, I haven’t totally covered ALL of the hardware pieces of my current setup, but that’s because it’s important to cover the software portions so that it’s easier to understand why I added a couple of hardware pieces. First thing is Voicemeeter Banana. This was fun (Note: Sarcasm) to setup on my systems because it was how I was going to control where my audio sources came from and were directed to (this was prior to the Windows 10 update that allows users to basically do the same thing.) I may not be using this particular program to its fullest potential, but that’s not important. What is important is that I don’t have speakers on either of my PC’s, only the one pair of headphones, so I use the VBAN portion of Voicemeeter to port audio over the network between the two systems. Why? Because I ran into audio delay issues while playing games and streaming. The short story of that: I was playing PUBg with friends while streaming, and I would get shot but hear the sound of the gunfire probably a full second or more after I was already getting hit. Not a fun time. So I switched my headphones over to the gaming PC and had all my audio from the streaming PC (primarily for alerts) ported over the network.

But Wait, There’s More!

The other thing I did was switch from using my internal capture card (which is now reserved strictly for consoles) to using the OBS-NDI plugin. This thing has been amazing. It uses OBS Studio on both machines, with one sending all the A/V data over the network back to the main streaming PC before being uploaded to the internet. At this point I feel I should mention a couple of things. First, I have a couple of roommates who both play games online. So we’ve shelled out for a decent internet package to accommodate our traffic. Second, because of this I didn’t want to have my VBAN and NDI traffic bogging down our combo modem/router because I was using two of the four ethernet ports and limiting each of them to only having one. So I purchased a standalone gigabit ethernet switch to plug both of my machines into and have a the one line out to the new router my roommate purchased. That whole arrangement is probably unnecessary, but hey, it’s my setup and I like being unconventional sometimes.

Another piece of the setup that is probably unnecessary, but is more for my convenience, is a HDMI Switcher. It was kind of expensive, and I didn’t really NEED it, but I wanted it. I use that switch between the few gaming consoles I have setup at any given point so that I can transition quickly. Also, it makes it so I don’t need to go to the back of the streaming PC to swap out an HDMI cable. I haven’t noticed too much of a latency issue that can’t be accounted for in OBS, or that impacts my ability to play a game, so I keep using it in conjunction with the internal capture card.

I know I missed mentioning webcams and monitors earlier, and probably something else I’m forgetting, but I feel like those are a bit more basic and don’t add much to how a streaming setup can evolve over time. The monitors don’t really add too much to the complexity of a streaming setup, because everyone has a different way of organizing their screens, and the webcams aren’t always a necessity for streaming. I currently have two webcams setup when most people only ever use one. One I use for a facecam (a Logitech BRIO 4K, probably overkill) and a second one (a Logitech C920) I was using for random things like creative streams or spontaneous dog cam. Having two Logitech cams on the same system was tricky because only one would get picked up by the Logitech Webcam software, but both could be worked with in OBS Studio.

I think I’ve covered most everything in my setup as it stands today. I can’t say that all of it makes complete sense, but it seems to be working so yay me! I could probably put together a timeline if I really wanted to to help explain how things went, or even include a diagram of my setup, but I might just do that later. For now, this is what I’ve got. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this! If not, tell me. Critique me. Rip my blog post apart. Even though this was probably a subject I rambled on about, I need to learn somehow. Catch you next time!

Contact points: Twitter or Twitch

Prioritize your needs first, duh!

Last week was busy for me at work. Running around doing final coordination for the activities going on this week and next took a toll on me, leaving me fairly drained by the end of each day. I just didn’t have the mental energy to do the things I wanted to, like stream or write. Instead I more often chose to relax. Hopefully I can get back on track with writing and streaming by the end of next week!

Thoughts about being on the Path to Affiliate/Partner

I haven’t been on Twitch.tv very long by comparison to some people that use the service. I made my account in 2014 but didn’t start streaming until about September/October of 2016. In that time, though, I’ve lurked and mingled both on and off of the site, seeing what all it has to offer.

People come to Twitch.tv to either do one of two things. Consume or Create. To watch others, or to try and be watched by others. This time I’ll be focusing on those that have come to Create.

Broadcasters, or Streamers, come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. They are all different as individuals, but they try to accomplish the same thing. To be seen, and grow, on Twitch.tv. What motivates everyone is different, but not nearly as variable as the people. Some do it because it’s a hobby for them and nothing more. Some do it professionally for a living now because they’ve been doing it so long that they’ve accumulated a following that supports them. Then you have this awkward middle ground. A large number of people that aspire to make it into the big leagues of Streaming. Now, I’m not saying that these three categories of people are the only ones. This is just a high level generalization of the spectrum. Remember, everyone has different motives that drive their decisions when it comes to streaming.

For the Hobbyist Streamer, which is closer to where I see myself most days, we broadcast for fun. In my case specifically, we play with friends and have our own little social circles that may or may not overlap with others that have the same mentality when it comes to streaming. We don’t actively network and seek out new opportunities to put ourselves out there and be noticed. Instead we have tendency to stick to ourselves and our channels grow at a slower pace, which we’re fine with since we’re not trying to turn this into a job. This whole thing is for fun, after all.

That awkward middle ground of Streamers, the Aspiring Hopefuls, is where I sometimes see myself but not nearly as often as I do as a Hobbyist Streamer. In this grouping of people you’ll find those that have seen individuals be successful at streaming (and possibly earning a living off of it) and latched on to the idea that they want the same thing. They want the success, and possible money, of being Partnered. The reason this group is kind of an awkward middle ground, though, is the wide variety of people that occupy it. They have different mentalities on what success looks like. Different expectations and ideas of what they should be doing to earn that success. Some think simply hitting that “Start Streaming” button is enough and people will flock to their channel. Others understand that it takes time and dedication, striving to reach that Affiliate Status. Some have a deeper understanding of what it takes, putting in the extra effort to grow their network of connections. Considering how complicated the whole ordeal is, only a handful ever ascend high enough to reach that dream.

That dream, of course, is to be among the elite few who stream professionally. The idea being that they get paid to play games and have people watch them do it. If you’ve followed along to this point then you know I’m going to comment on how it is so much more complicated than that. Partners don’t have it easy, and not all Partners have it the same. Some have larger followings than others which makes it easier to support them. Others that have made it to Partner status might still hold down full time jobs to help pay the bills. They might still be in the previous category, so we’re going to continue to keep our focus on the ones that have “made it” as Streamers.

Beyond all the troubleshooting and technical stuff, beyond all the money spent, getting to the Top is no easy feat. If you’ve ever watched a streamer that has an average viewer count in the tens of thousands or higher, you probably noticed how chaotic their chat is which makes it hard to keep a conversation. Now, for all of this I’d like to remind you that I’m purely speculating and you should not take my word for it so please hear me out. When you have such a large viewership and active chat, you can’t keep a conversation with them because you have thousands of people effectively screaming at you to be heard or noticed. You lose the connection you once had when you were streaming for just a few hundred or less. You don’t get the luxury of being on first name basis or having slightly more intimate conversations with your regulars because you simply cannot keep up. To get this far, these Top of the Top elite streamers have had to sacrifice this and become some sort of idol on a pedestal with the majority of the voices getting lost to the din of a speeding chat. The only messages that make it through are those attached to donations and resubs because they’re easier to filter out and focus on. This doesn’t grant them much more of a connection, but its something. Either way, they still don’t have much left.

So what do you have left when you reach the top? When you reach that high the only people you have are those that have made it there as well. They become your new friends and family. The friends you thought you had as a smaller streamer may be gone to you because you left them behind, unless they managed to come with you on the journey by working hard themselves or by being a part of your life off-stream. These people have made sacrifices to get to that level of success, and most people don’t think about this.

There is probably quite a bit more I could write on this subject, or on the Affiliate status separately, but I’ll save that for another time. What about you though? What are your thoughts on the matter? Comments are open.