Friday, May 1, 2020

How to Learn from Other Streamers (And How Not To)

There are a lot of people out there making content on Twitch, and that means there's a wealth of potential learning opportunities for you and your own channel. Everyone who streams has a different kind of show, with its own visuals, games, and methods for making things entertaining. There are so many ways to go about finding channels to learn from, and even more ways to actually learn once you've found them. For example as I mentioned in the entry To Improve Your Twitch, Get Inspired By Everything, I typically get my best inspiration from people streaming things that I personally have no interest in streaming. This broadens my horizons and allows me to think outside the box more regularly. If you're keeping your eyes open, who knows where your own best inspiration will spring from?

This whole entry comes with a giant asterisk however, and I don't want you to glaze over this part. You shouldn't be watching more content than you produce. In fact, you should be making at least two or three times more hours worth of content than the amount you consume. There are few things more dangerous to a prospective Twitch streamer than settling into a pattern of binging on other peoples' streams, tricking oneself into thinking it's for 'research' purposes. In fact, if you aren't streaming consistently, you really shouldn't be watching other streams at all.

If you see more experienced streamers doing their shows, it can cause you to focus on the gap in skill between yourself and these other people. I mentioned this in the entry Learn to Love the Grind of Twitch Streaming, but seeing that skill deficit could cause you to lose motivation. If you struggle to go a week without missing one of your scheduled shows, concentrate on yourself first. Learning a new technique isn't necessary when you can't even work with what you already have- you don't need inspiration in that situation, you need discipline. When you're able to go 50 or 100 streams without missing a single broadcast however, then it can be very useful to look outwards for more inspiration. And I'll now share with you the methods I've used to learn from other Twitch streamers, along with the methods I've learned to avoid along the way.


Okay, so you've resolved to start watching other streamers with the intention of gaining inspiration for your own streams. But you're busy, and you want to get answers quickly. So you decide to ask that streamer for pointers about the craft. What's the best way to ask another streamer questions about how to make your stream better?

You don't.

Not every question is necessary.
If you're trying to improve your shows, it's not constructive for either yourself or the streamer whose channel you're watching to rattle off questions related to broadcasting. In the entry Build Your Twitch Channel Like You're a Secret Agent, I discussed how you should never tell others about your plans or projects until they're already complete. Sharing info about your incomplete projects is only a way to make yourself feel like you're getting things done, without actually doing any work at all. Ironically, talking about these things actually causes you to lose the motivation needed to complete those goals. And asking questions on someone's stream falls under this same category. The most common person you see asking for tips on a Twitch stream is someone who hasn't even started streaming yet, They ask dozens of little detailed questions about this hardware and that software, then proceed to never start streaming, or to start for a few days or weeks and quickly give up. Don't be someone who discusses work you plan to do instead of putting in actual stream hours.

From the other streamer's perspective, it's also rather rude. By asking questions for your own channel, you're taking the focus from whatever they're doing so they and the community can answer your questions. You're also indirectly self-advertising by drawing attention your own channel, which most streamers are not okay with. Some streamers will put up with this for a while and try to give a few tips, while others will immediately shut you down. Either way, rather than watching a stream only to selfishly talk about your own shows, try just genuinely enjoying this other person's streams. Engage in their chat, pay attention to the way they play the game, study how they talk on camera, and listen to how they interact with people. You'll learn a lot more by actually being a part of the person's shows than you will by disrupting things to make the conversation all about you.


When learning Japanese, there is one trait that everyone advises you not to embody from the outset: Don't correct native Japanese speakers on their Japanese. I laughed at this the first time I saw it, because it sounded so ridiculous. What person barely capable of speaking a language would attempt to give pointers to someone who's been speaking it their whole life? And then I encountered it in the wild. It does really happen, and there are few things on Earth more embarrassing to watch.

Don't get an inflated ego.
After seeing this for myself, I came to realize that this phenomenon occurs by someone having an over-abundance of 'book smarts.' This language learner has spent so much time in hypothetical conversations on paper that once they arrive in an actual conversation they can't keep up. It frustrates them that a real person doesn't speak in the saccharine, ultra-proper speech pattern of a textbook. Instead of adapting and learning to talk like a normal person, they instead try to correct everyone else, ostensibly as a way of proving that they do, in fact, know something about the language, even though they can't speak when under pressure. This self-conscious focus on teaching others happens among new Twitch streamers as well, for the same reason- entering someone's chat only to immediately point out what's wrong with their show. It helps no one, and it doesn't make them any friends either.

Ultimately this is a matter of consent. There are plenty of times when it's appropriate to share your thoughts and knowledge, even to teach others. For example, you're currently reading this entry of The Twitch Playbook because you're specifically seeking out ways to improve your own content. What I'm not doing is entering your stream and telling you what's good or bad about your shows without you even asking. If you notice something wrong on someone else's stream, think twice about whether it's a real problem or if you're just nitpicking. And after that, think about it a third time. If you really think this thing is worth sharing, send your thoughts politely in a private message rather than in their public chat. But realize that it's probably not necessary to share such information unless you know they want your advice. If you're not an avid member of the community or a friend of the streamer, it's better to simply watch and learn from their content rather than trying to flaunt what you know.


Most of all, stay mentally active when viewing someone's stream. Rather than simply tuning out while watching, try to assess what makes their shows work so well. What would make one feature work technically behind the scenes? What's a trait about this person that makes them so entertaining? What would you do differently, if you were to implement something they do on your own channel?

I personally have a raid message with a nice little ASCII text flourish, which was inspired by a friend on Twitch who used a different flourish in shoutouts. I have commands with various emote sets based on another channel who would ask their chat to flood the comments section with messages when someone followed. A friend of mine on Twitch attributes a really fun dance party feature he has to another channel we both know, which did a similar thing. When seeking out inspiration, you're not looking to lift other channels' ideas wholesale, but to become inspired by different parts of the shows you watch. There's so much out there which can make your streams more exciting if you're willing to learn from other Twitch streamers.

No comments:

Post a Comment