Streaming Makes Me Twitchy

StreamHave I mentioned how much I like following Jessica (Liore) Cook on Twitter? My former’s Game On co-host is not incredibly wordy, but when she does tweet, I give it my full attention. Her posts are simultaneously witty and insightful, and always uplifting. I should probably take tweet lessons from her, honestly. That’s a thing, right? I think it’s called social media branding.

Anyway, this one came across my feed today, and it made me pause and reflect on my own streaming experiences:

Now, I’ve streamed only very rarely. I did some leading up to last year’s Extra Life marathon on hitbox, and then for the entire 24 hour marathon. Lately, I’ve done a few streams on Twitch in preparation for this year’s marathon, and I did one to test the new YouTube gaming streaming. So, I’ve always done so with a purpose, either to test out streaming, to prepare for Extra Life or to participate in Extra Life. I’ve never just thought “hey, I think I’ll go broadcast my game play today!”

Honestly, I do enjoy the times when I stream if somebody I know shows up in the chat. It’s a good chance to just hang out and bat things around without pretenses . Afterwards, I’ll go back and view the recorded stream in all of its blurred, choppy glory and I’ll think to myself “why?” Then I look at the two hour timestamp and I wonder “why?” And then I look at the six people who actually clicked on a blurry, two hour stream that’s already happened and I think “why?”

It’s at this point that I realize that my streams provide exactly zero value. If you’d like to see how poorly I play a game, you’re in luck. If you’re interested in prolonged silences and barely audible mumbling while I figure something out, you’re in luck. If you’re a big fan of inventory management and poor Internet upload speeds, then I’m the guy for you. Value? Either check out my YouTube channel or some other streamer. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even watch me.

This post is not meant to be disparaging of other content creators, most of whom are much better at it than I am. Personally, I’m still trying to find out where streaming “fits” within my content creation and consumption rotation. The best use-case I’ve come up with is casually gathering with friends to goof around and talk about a common subject: whatever is going on in the stream. It’s akin to hanging out with your friends after school, with one person playing the game and everybody else reacting to it. Conversations may or may not continue to reference the action on the screen. It’s an after-school gathering across the Internet.

However, beyond this, I struggle to see a good reason to do it. Using my precious few hours in the evening to fight with OBS and my Internet connection on the odd chance that someone might show up and banter hardly seems worth it.

As far as consumption goes, I saw this cartoon on Loading Artist a few days ago:

Streaming Comic

While I understand the sentiment, I don’t think the cartoon draws a very good comparison. When I’m watching sports on TV, I’m watching the best of the best compete at a level literally uncomprehendable to the average viewer. When I watch a twitch stream, I’m usually watching a person only slightly better than me who probably provides some kind of dialog. This is a completely different kind of entertainment. It’s more like turning on the TV and watching my neighbor’s kids kick a soccer ball around while giving each other a hard time and narrating their moves. It’s entertaining, but not wildly, and certainly not to the level of professional athletes showcasing their talents. I probably wouldn’t watch it for two or more hours. The cartoon may be referencing e-sports, which is probably a better comparison. But the vast majority of streaming I see on Twitch doesn’t fit this classification.

The last thing that I’ve started to realize is that, even though I tend to enjoy the experience of streaming, I harbor a bit of anxiety about it whenever I’m considering whether or not to fire up the broadcast. I’m really not sure where this comes from. You’d think with all of the blogging and podcasting I do that nerves would not be an issue, especially considering the small size of my chat room & viewer count. But for whatever reason, the prospect of an un-edited, un-polished version of myself being broadcast out into the ether always causes me to hesitate. Perhaps I do suffer from some low-level anxiety issues, after all.

Either that, or I’m just ashamed to show others how I accidentally electrocute my Sims grandpa by forcing him to work on a broken dishwasher while sitting in a puddle.

View from mid-stream by Lee Coursey on Flickr Creative Commons


8 thoughts on “Streaming Makes Me Twitchy

  1. djpimpdaddy September 17, 2015 / 8:28 am

    I was with you till you talked about electrocuting your Sims grandpa ha ha.

    Since ditching cable I find myself watching streams and YouTube 50% more than old fashion TV-time. An odd thing that I noticed though was that I was watching people play games I own. It is rare for me to watch something that I don’t own or don’t want to own. I can’t figure out if it is because I want to feel like I am playing the game when I can’t or if it is because I want to reassure myself I am playing the game right. I know in the cases of Minecraft videos I have transcended beyond the wow factor and most videos I watch on that game are truly for educational purposes, like learning how to use various mod pack machines.

    Another notable thing is that most videos I do watch are of single player games, leading me to also think that by watching someone else play and comment I am playing it multiplayer.

    I do dearly miss the early 90’s Saturday afternoon hangouts with my friends crammed around a floor TV all waiting patiently to play Contra or Excitebike. The original “trolling” was simply walking in front of the tv during a jumping stage or boss fight! Twitch will never be able to replicate those moments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jasyla September 17, 2015 / 9:06 am

    I have some of the same anxieties about streaming. First, I tend to run into technical difficulties which are a pain. Second, I’m not good at small talk with the internet (as Liore puts it). It’s strange to me to talk to people watching when most of the time there aren’t very many of them and they aren’t talking back. I would not watch my own stream, it’s pretty boring.

    I’ve had 2 decent experiences out of the dozen or so times I’ve tried it. Once was playing XCOM, one person was watching and we had a conversation about strategies and stuff. The other was when I had a number of friends over. We got drunk and streamed PT. That was really fun, though watching the video afterwards was rather cringe-inducing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mabrick September 17, 2015 / 10:49 am

    I’ll jut leave this here. Sure, it’s a small amount of self-promotion, but the listed reasons I stream are all good… ‘counterpoints’ isn’t the correct word here… let’s just say options… to what you say. And just so you know, I miss the days of the LAN party terribly. I don’t blame streaming for that though. I blame ubiquitous fast Internet in general. No one seems to want to tear down their gaming rig and cart it across town any more. *sigh*


    • Braxwolf September 17, 2015 / 6:39 pm

      I remember this one 🙂

      Maybe you and I should have a “worst streamer on twitch” contest!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Arathaert (@arathaert) September 17, 2015 / 11:21 am

    Yet another thoughtful post!

    I’m not 100% with that cartoon either – instead of, say, pro sports, I think of it more like any other entertainment show.

    I stream and I thoroughly enjoy it. The community that’s grown up around my channel is an amazing one, and I’ve made some friends I never would have met otherwise. Chat doesn’t have to stay just “small talk,” especially during non-streaming times.

    A few days ago, I watched CohhCarnage play the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 for the first time. There were almost 10,000 people watching. The game ends in an hour-long cutscene, and it’s filled with big emotional reveal after big emotional reveal. The amazing thing? Nobody spoiled anything. 10,000 people there … half had never played and were experiencing it along with Cohh for the first time. The other half had already played the game and were there to watch someone else’s first experience. It was the most amazing moment I’ve seen in streaming… folks coming together around something they all love and enjoy.

    Can streams be boring? Yes. Not every streamer is great at it. Just like not everyone should be a TV personality, not everyone would make a great streamer. I’m not the best, but I’m decent and improving. 😛

    Some folks like to relax in front of Jimmy Kimmel. Others like to watch someone play a game they love with a group of people … a social, communal experience. They’re simply different types of entertainment.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brigo Halefoot September 17, 2015 / 1:23 pm

    I guess the cartoon DOES describe me in the sense that it’s not a medium for socializing for me. The only LIVEstreams I’ve watched have been bits of Weatherstock & Landmark Live. I value streams and those who dedicate time to them for the info aspect: YouTube streams to learn news/building techniques from elites, but, yeah, livestreams just don’t fit my time, skills, or socializing style.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Roger Edwards (@ModeratePeril) September 17, 2015 / 1:28 pm

    I use streaming as means of finding things out. It’s great way to see what a game is like or find out what the dev’s are up to.

    I agree with Arathaert that it’s appeal lies in it’s interactive nature. A good streamer can entertain and engage while also giving a platform to the audience. It’s a two way street.

    Like blogging, podcasting and self published books there’s a lot of content out there that simply isn’t up to standard. Just because you can stream doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Therefore consumers do have to filter out a lot of junk.

    However good content is there to be found and those that work on the quality of their streams do improve.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pike September 17, 2015 / 2:04 pm

    I’ve tried streaming a couple of times– people tend to end up watching me, which weirds me out a lot. I don’t find myself interesting or entertaining in the slightest. But for some reason, people like it, so who am I to say?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s