Monday, September 5, 2022

Find What's Important to You About Streaming

As a Twitch streamer, you may face many kinds of challenges. Maybe you need to identify what motivates you to stop procrastinating and go live. You might be having trouble even fitting streaming into your schedule. You could be facing pressure from your own audience to change things you don’t want to change. Maybe the growth of your channel and the success of a particular feature is tempting you to want to focus only on that one thing. Or you could be getting a lot of negative and hurtful feedback. In each above mentioned scenario, there’s one common thing which can keep you grounded and help you find your way. If you find what’s most important to you about streaming, you’ll always know what needs to be done. 


In the entry Know When Not to Do What the Audience Wants, I went through a few examples of successful people who understood the necessity of not always doing what their customers ask for. Henry Ford turned his automobile into a worldwide icon by finding a design that worked, and then keeping it the same. He knew what was important about his cars, and understood that messing with the design in the early stages of its success would only hurt in the long run. At a time when people not only needed to be convinced to buy his car, but also needed to be convinced that cars (rather than horses) were worth buying in the first place, his adamance helped to usher in a new age of transportation. 

Early computers didn't even have cursors.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs ushered in his own new age, a few times over, in the field of modern computing. You may not be aware for example that there was a time, even after the mouse was invented, that computer cursors were controlled by buttons on a keyboard. A mouse was considered an optional accessory. It wasn’t until Apple computers began including the mouse with the machine, and using mouse-driven interfaces to control the action, that the world began to catch on. 

It’s commonly suggested that Twitch streamers (and anyone else trying to be successful, for that matter) should change along with the whims of their audience. After all, what is a streamer if not a mirror reflecting back what the viewer wants to see? But what if the viewer doesn’t know what they want to see? They might think they do, but they can only envision what they already know. As Henry Ford once said about popularizing the automobile, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Sometimes it’s up to you to dictate where you’re going to take the audience. If you trust your vision, you won’t regret the ride. 


I’m a huge fan of the Souls games. Throughout this series which includes Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Elden Ring and more, you’re punished for dying more than in most video games. Everywhere your character goes, there are hidden enemies trying to trick you. Many can kill you in one swing of the sword, others can lead you into traps, and of course the terrain itself might spell death if you’re not paying attention. Upon dying in one of these games, you drop all the currency that your character is carrying. Since this currency not only purchases necessary items, but is also the only way to get level-up points to upgrade your character, death can sometimes mean losing hours of hard work in an instant. For this reason, most new players reach the conclusion that ‘not dying’ is the key to success in a Souls game. And while this is partially correct, it quickly creates a negative loop. The game becomes a nightmarish slog, in which every corner might hold a monster waiting to ruin your day. New players often quit after having their first big death while holding a lot of money- they deem the game unfair and trade it in for something more fun to play. 

Don't fight Ornstein and Smough 
without spending your souls first.

But if you stick with the game, you start to realize something. Despite making a big show of your character’s death every time it happens (a massive “YOU DIED” title appears every time you fall), there’s actually almost no consequence to dying in a Souls game at all. This is because, while you can lose the currency you’re carrying on your person, you can’t lose currency you’ve already spent. Items stay with you after death, and your character level stays where it is as well. For this reason, Souls games in reality are about measuring risk and spending your money wisely. If you’ve accumulated too much currency and have ventured too far away from safety, it’s probably time to return to base and spend your money before you can lose it. If you find a boss’ lair, it’s always best to go in with no money on your person. The games all let you go anywhere you want in the open world, so it’s not like you need to fight any particular enemy, or enter any particular area, as soon as you find it. You can accrue enough currency for the next level-up, spend it all, and then fight. 

Playing this way immediately changes the nature of the game. After all, if you walk into a boss’ dungeon with enough money to fund several level-ups (as most new players do), dying even once would of course be immediately catastrophic. But if you walk into a boss’ dungeon with no money at all, you could die 100 times and never be the worse for wear. You don’t even need much skill- you can just memorize the patterns and win through attrition. This kind of philosophy (aside from making you a better Souls player) can apply to many things you might try on Twitch. Just because most people think streaming is meant to be a certain way, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you. Don’t like video games? Stream something else. Don’t like showing your face? Stream without a camera. Don’t like going live for a long time? Stream for however long makes you comfortable. 


Throughout many past entries, I’ve spoken about how I’ve thrown away many of what most people consider ‘essential elements of Twitch streaming’ from my own channel, and in their place have built something completely my own. What’s most important about Twitch streaming for you? Regardless of what others think, or even what you currently think! Look past all the presumptions, and consider if your viewpoint may have been skewed by your expectations of streaming. Are there pressures coming in from your audience, or from your other streamer friends, making you believe something has to change? It’s possible that, like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, you need to identify what’s important and not lose sight of it. Or, like with a Souls game, it may simply be about changing your perspective in order to take the pressure off. In the end, if you can find what’s important about streaming, you’ll be much closer to reaching true happiness with your content. 

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