Friday, August 16, 2019

The Power of Positive Streaming

There are all kinds of streams out there, but whatever your channel's identity, there will always be a top-level trait that permeates everything: how you conduct yourself toward others.

For my streams, cultivating an atmosphere of positivity is extremely important. No matter what's happening in my game or in the chat, I try to make it always known that the stream itself is a welcoming place. I think this makes followers feel more at home on the channel, and newcomers are struck by this often. You might think that your streams are too far in another direction to support a tone like this, but I personally think that anyone's streams, no matter their basic theme, would benefit from a blanket of positivity draped overhead.


Radiating good vibes from the first moment someone joins a stream is important to me, and for this I set up on-stream actions that allow the whole community to join in. I have a whole network of commands for various greetings, responses and gameplay reactions that chatters can use to make people feel welcome.

This guy outside Megaton knows how to give a
good welcome.
When someone joins a stream, everyone currently in the chat is encouraged to send them a greeting command, which pays out with a "hello" message and a random assortment of emotes from a list I've cultivated. The only thing I personally do is announce excitedly that the new person has joined, and ask the chat to send the command. Everything else is up to the community, who can then each send their own greeting to the newcomer. This creates a flood of positive messages for the new person joining, and many people who have never been on my channel before have remarked how much they appreciate the warm welcome. It's very important to me that people feel they are noticed on my channel, and this kind of greeting from the whole chat is a great way to make sure that everyone is acquainted with each other.

It doesn't stop there though- there are commands to wish someone well upon leaving a stream, a command to give someone a randomized 'good night' message if they're going to bed, and commands for people to express their love, sadness or excitement for things that happen in the game and the chat. There are also ways for viewers to 'high five' each other for their achievements, or hug each other in greeting or support, and for both of these I've written dozens and dozens of different possible custom results so that each person's interaction is different.

All of this helps to further enhance the sense of togetherness between followers, while adding my channel's own personality at the same time. It creates a recurring theme for returning viewers, because everyone knows that these moments of interaction will appear, and can be on the lookout for them. It's a chance to be a part of the group and join in the fun, and it creates a whole new level of interaction aside from normal chat conversation. There's almost a separate language when watching my channel, and chatters very much enjoy taking part in the rituals and activities that come with this. Because people enjoy receiving the messages, and it's always fun to send them, this creates a forward momentum of positivity for future interactions.


When you're playing a game, it's easy to get caught up in the intense moments. Whether it stems from a lost competitive match, defeat from a tough boss, or a botched puzzle, I've seen many streamers become enraged on their streams and fly off the handle toward chatters, teammates on voice chat, or even other people in the room with them. I know it's difficult to stay cool when everything is going wrong and you just can't catch a break- we've all had our moments like this. But while it's okay (and even entertaining) to get mad at your game, you should never take your anger out on other people.

Don't forget, you're on camera.
Aside from just generally being a bad thing to do, acting mean toward others while streaming will cause members of your chat to lose interest in your stream, or sometimes give up on your channel altogether. In many cases, you won't know this has happened- they won't likely announce anything, they will simply stop watching. Acting cruelly toward others, even in a fit of rage, shows people your true colors, and viewers won't easily forget things like this. I've personally left plenty of streams when the caster suddenly started lashing out at everyone in a fury- it's just no fun to be around.

You need to understand your priorities on stream in this case. Sometimes our frustration with a game can make us see red, but this is only part of the problem- the bigger issue for many inexperienced streamers is an anxiety about people tuning out because of their poor performance in a game. This is a short-sighted viewpoint. The people who truly care about your shows won't leave because you're losing. Only the fairweather viewers will take off in these moments, but they wouldn't likely have stuck around anyway. Try to keep a cool head and remember that, whether you're winning or losing, people are watching your show to see you, not the game. They'll be entertained whether you win or lose, so enjoy the ride no matter where the roller coaster takes you.


It bothers me when Twitch streamers give their 'hot takes' on some subject in an angry, alienating way that's likely to demean, belittle, or discourage other opinions. I've left streams for this reason before as well, when it's clear the person is going to spend the next ten minutes railing on some movie, game or other subject that I happen to love. I'm not saying you shouldn't express your true thoughts for fear that others might disagree. But you should pay attention to how you're expressing those thoughts.

Let's say the new Star Wars movie just came out and a chatter asks whether you've seen it. If you seriously hated the movie, you might say something like this:

"Ugh, I hated this new Star Wars movie. It made no sense, it completely ruined the canon, and I can't believe anyone with an IQ higher than a child actually enjoyed it. All the critics who gave it high scores must have been paid off."

This is certainly honest, and some people may appreciate your candor. But even if I despised the new Star Wars movie more than life itself, I'd try to take a deep breath and say something more like this:

"I did see the new Star Wars movie! This one wasn't my favorite, but I'm interested to see where they take it from here. How about you, did you get a chance to check it out yet?"

Keep your rage in check.
This second one still expresses the fact that I didn't love the movie, but in a much more diplomatic way. It also takes into account the fact that this person is likely asking whether I saw the movie because they also just saw it, and therefore has a 50% chance of having enjoyed it. I'm not violently attacking the thing they wanted to talk about, but instead establishing my perspective while inviting actual discussion.

You may say that hot takes invite people to chat, but you'll notice I have nothing against hot takes themselves, only the way some people express them. No one wants to watch someone completely hate on their favorite subject, and will likely tune out when you start doing it. If they don't, and they start arguing in chat, consider the quality of discussion you've just invited. Inflammatory remarks are like junk food- even when they get results in the moment, they're bad for you in the long run. Maybe one vocal chatter got up to bat and argued, but 3 silent lurking viewers have been offended and stopped watching because they couldn't put up with your bickering and negativity. Do your best to keep things in perspective.


I personally think any community is better off with a healthy dose of positivity. At the end of the day, you just need to remember that these are real people you're dealing with. Try to act like you would in public- you wouldn't want to make someone feel unwelcome when they meet you, nor would you want to be openly mean, or consciously try to kill the mood at parties by going on angry rants. Then why would you do these things on your stream? Your actions always build toward a conclusion- constantly being negative will only encourage more negative people to stick around and more positive people to leave. But radiating positivity will cause the trolls and bad vibes to drop away, making your channel a much more pleasant place to be. By always keeping others in mind when conducting your shows, you'll soon understand the power of positive streaming!

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