When creating our content, it’s easy to get caught in a mindset where we think we have everything figured out. Whether we’ve been spending a lot of time planning and setting up our channel before starting, or we’ve fallen into a groove where we’re able to stream without issues for a while, an overconfident attitude can cause problems if we’re not careful. It doesn’t matter how foolproof a plan seems, how unbreakable a habit, or how solid a rule. Problems can always creep in. In the immortal words of Jurassic Park’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, “Life, uh... finds a way.” Therefore, when streaming, it’s best to plan for reality.
➢ UP IN THE AIR
Anyone experienced with air travel is familiar with the law against smoking on airplanes. The cabin staff mention this rule several times throughout any flight you might take, and there’s a backlighted ‘no smoking’ sign in front of every single passenger’s seat. Violators also face strict penalties, including large fines, even arrest and detainment. In other words, it’s extremely clear to anyone who steps foot onto an aircraft that they cannot light a cigarette under any circumstances.
And yet, despite all these rules and penalties, inflight smoking is still accounted for on airplanes. The bathroom, which is the most common place for someone to attempt to smoke on a flight, will still have a built-in ashtray on the next flight you take. And this won’t just be due to the plane being an old model. Ashtrays are actually mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. They’re so critical in fact, that takeoffs can even be delayed when a lavatory ashtray is missing or out of order. Now, this begs the question: why would this vestigial component still be considered so necessary? Not only is the airline ashtray outmoded, but you’d actually be breaking the law if you used it!
Unless you're this guy, fire is likely going
to be a problem.
This is because the FAA is looking at the bigger picture. What happens if, despite all these warnings and punishments, someone does smoke in the airplane bathroom? Placing cigarette butts in the garbage can along with all the paper towels and other trash will cause a cabin fire, which has been known to result in passenger deaths and plane crashes. So the ashtray is there as a way for someone to dispose of their cigarette butts safely, should they decide to break the rules. They’ll still face fines and potential detainment, but they won’t kill everyone on board. This method of planning for reality has always stuck with me, and since I found out about it a few years ago, it’s permeated everything I do. This, of course, includes my Twitch broadcasts.
➢ CONTINGENCY STREAMING
Despite being a big supporter of pre-stream checklists, careful chat rules, strong habits, and other methods of preparation, I never assume that these things will make my streams infallible. I always try to have alternate options in place, should my plans fall through.
One of the biggest catch-alls for when problems occur is a ‘Be Right Back’ screen. Being able to cut to something that doesn’t show your camera feed or gameplay is a nice way to have some time to yourself mid-stream, should you need to fix something. I spoke more on this topic in the entry Three Useful Scenes for Your Stream. For the worst problems, there are still solutions which can be reached. In the entry Become a Solution-Oriented Streamer, I took you through a mental exercise to find three separate solutions to one of the worst issues a streamer can face: a lack of internet connectivity. It’s also important to be mentally prepared for the worst, and keep tabs on how you react in the moment. If something happens while you’re live, it can be easy to fly off the handle due to the pressure and embarrassment. In the recent entry Don’t Panic: A Guide to Facing Stream Problems, I focused specifically on staying cool in the moment when something goes wrong.
In XCOM, backup plans are a way of life.
What about when someone gets out of hand in your chat? Though I’ve gone through several of my favorite ways to moderate chat, establish rules, and measure the reactions of viewers over time, sometimes a viewer simply cannot be reasoned with. In those instances, there’s nothing wrong with timing out or even banning them altogether. When you’ve clearly stated that what they’re doing is not okay, everyone else in chat will understand the circumstances. They’ll likely even be thankful to be rid of the disruption. Other tools like fully clearing the chat, or even setting it to ‘followers only’ mode can prevent some of the more calculated attacks like follow bots or users who create new profiles to get around your restrictions. Typically, these things will go away after a while, and you’ll be able to put things back to normal.
➢ CUSTOMIZE YOUR PLANS
The things I’ve mentioned so far have been what I’ve found useful when planning for reality on my own shows. But your streams are not the same as mine, and you will face your own problems. Take a moment to think about what you can do if something falls through. Plus, pay attention when problems do happen, and let them inform your contingency plans in the future. When you plan for reality, even your worst problems won’t seem so bad.