Friday, July 30, 2021

See Your Twitch Channel For What It Is

When building our channels, we’re all looking to make something different. That’s what makes Twitch so exciting. Everyone has different interests, different life experiences, and different visual styles. We may all be on the same platform, but each of us is on their own separate journey. However, many never get the chance to start on the adventure of Twitch streaming, because they see other channels’ content and deem the whole process too daunting. Then there are other streamers who have already started, but become impatient when expecting the results they see in their peers. 

Comparisons can be harmful to a streamer- they stifle creativity and even sometimes damage motivation. Because every channel is on its own separate journey, we never know what someone else has gone through when trying to make their content work. Their features may not be compatible with our content. And we all have to fight our own demons when trying to go live. But the only thing we see when we look at our list of followed channels on Twitch is a bunch of people having fun and making entertainment. What does that say about us when we can’t muster up the courage to do the same, or feel down because we’re not making progress? In this entry, I’ll help you to see your Twitch channel for what it is, in order to grow more effectively and be more confident with the content you make.


Many new streamers run into two very daunting problems, which both stem from the same cause. Before starting their channels, hopeful streamers often overestimate the amount of effort and know-how it takes to stream. This dangerous assumption prevents countless people from ever getting their starts on Twitch. But for the streamers who can break through that mental block and begin streaming, a second issue comes into play. Once they have a taste for broadcasting, the scales tip in the other direction. They underestimate how much time it will take for them to reach their goals of becoming full-time streamers, famous celebrities, or just hitting their first milestone of followers. As I’ve talked about in other entries, this inflation of expectations can lead to bad results, like frustration, dejection, and an eventual loss of willingness to stream. But where do these two damaging mental blocks of overestimation and underestimation come from? There’s a single, unexpected concept which ties them both together. 

The things we see are only ever one part
of the full story.

During World War II, the United States military faced a baffling situation. In an effort to decrease losses among their aircraft, they put together a study. All returning airplanes were analyzed, and all the bullet holes they received were charted on an illustration. When looking at the resulting image, you can clearly see that the center of the plane, the edges of the wings and the tail were taking the most damage. So the US military added more armor to those hot zones and sent the planes back out. But contrary to what everyone expected, this didn’t change the amount of planes that got shot down. How is this possible? It wasn’t until the statistician Abraham Wald came in that things started to change. He suggested that they shouldn’t be adding armor to the areas where returning planes got shot- they should be adding armor to the areas where they
didn’t get shot. This is the classic example of a concept called ‘survivorship bias.’ The graph showing where bullet holes appeared was only showing one portion of the total amount of planes. Because the planes that got hit in the other areas never made it back to base. And therefore, the areas marked on the illustration were actually demonstrating where a plane was strong enough to get hit and still fly, whereas the blank areas showed the most vulnerable points. This flipped the thinking about the subject on its head.


Survivorship bias affects us every day on Twitch as well. Those who have never streamed before can only ever watch streamers who actually faced their fears and started streaming. This means they’re only seeing a small percentage of all those who have wanted to stream. A prospective streamer might consider the ugliest looking, least professional stream to be the bottom of the barrel- let’s say it’s represented by 1 out of 100 possible percentage points. But in reality, even that stream, which might be the worst they’ve ever seen, should get somewhere closer to 70 or 80 points. Because by simply being live on Twitch, it’s above the thousands upon thousands of other prospective streams that, for whatever reason, people wanted to make but never did. The streams that actually exist are only the tip of the iceberg. For every one person who had the courage to go live, there are scores of others that dreamed of doing it, but never started at all. So if you’re interested in starting a channel, take comfort in the fact that you don’t need to know much about the craft itself. As long as you can take that first step into actually going live, the hardest part will already be behind you. 

All the things that never got made form a larger
percentage than those that did.

Then there are those who have started their channels, and get discouraged by the amount of time it takes to grow. This problem is caused by survivorship bias as well. As I’ve mentioned in past entries, streamers often look to the most successful channels to gather inspiration for their own shows. This can be highly detrimental to motivation for some of us, because it skews our perspective about what a Twitch channel should be like. When only watching a stream with 100 concurrent chatters, it’s easy to think that any stream without such a flow of conversation isn’t a real stream. When we see a streamer who gets new follow or cheer alerts every few minutes, we can’t help but feel that our own channels could be the same way if we only act like those streamers on their shows. But of course, what we don’t see is the incredible amount of time and effort that led those streamers to where they are. I can guarantee that any channel at the top bracket of Twitch didn’t look or act in the same way when they were starting out. In entries like 3 Easy Tips to Network on Twitch, I suggested looking for channels of a similar size to your own. It’s easier to form a good relationship with streamers who are going through similar experiences on the platform, and you can get a more realistic picture of things that might work at your own channel’s scale. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with watching large channels if you enjoy their content, but you should keep in mind that their practices are usually not going to be compatible with your own content.  


As I’ve mentioned in other entries, it’s helpful to put on blinders when making your content. These two problems connected to survivorship bias I’ve mentioned are only able to occur if you watch other Twitch streams. And the more you watch, the heavier your mental burden becomes. So if you find yourself having a hard time with creative blocks on Twitch, try cutting back on the amount of streams you watch in general. inspiration doesn’t always have to come from other sources after all, it can also come from within. But we all love watching Twitch streams, so just try to be careful that you don’t form harmful expectations about your own content based on the creations of others. If you keep that in mind, it will help you to see your channel for what it is. 

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