A little more than 3 months ago, I pressed the “start streaming” button for the first time, and my life changed a bit. I entered a world – the likes of which I had never encountered before. One of excitement, friendship, trolls, and immense joy.
What the heck is streaming?
Since accepting streaming as a regular activity of my life, I’ve started talking about it to people who aren’t part of the community – many of which seem quite baffled by it. In fact, I’ve heard “So you play video games and people just watch?” been said more than once.
So, to those of you not familiar with Video Game Streaming, it works like this – you play a video game, open up a chat window, and people can watch you play your game live (although, on the service I use – twitch.tv, there is about a 30-second delay between what you do, and what people see). But, not only can they watch you, but they can also interact with you via the chat window.
Not only are you playing a video game, but you’re also an entertainer. You are the locus of a community. It’s a mix between playing video games, watching TV, and tweeting all at once – a group of people are gathering around the collective experience of an individual playing a game. Unlike TV or Youtube, the viewers can chat in near-realtime with the streamer and create a real connection (or just help out with advice on what to do next).
Why did you start streaming?
I started streaming because of the streaming community. I work from home, and besides my wife and son bursting in on me through the day, my contact with the outside world can be somewhat limited. In fact, I often used (and still use) twitter as a way to stay connected with people and as a way to take small breaks while at work.
I could go on for a long time on how I stumbled in to watching streams, but let’s just cut it short and say that I came to become a regular “listener” of JonBams stream. I would leave it on in the background while I worked – the way people would listen to the radio.
Since graduating from college, I haven’t really done much acting (despite the rare occasion that I get to do improv), so I had an itch to perform. I did some planning, some research, etc, and finally got things all set up and I got up the courage to press the “start streaming” button.
Performing in front of an empty stage…
The advice every streamer will give you when you ask about getting started is the following:
- Keep Talking
- Have Fun
- Expect to stream to zero people for a while
Under most circumstances number 3 is a reality. If you go to twitch and scroll to the bottom of the live-streamer list, you’ll see a huge number of people that are streaming to 0 or 1 people (often the 1 is the person leaving the stream on their own PC). But, like most things in life, there are huge rewards to being a positive member of a community. Before I hit that “start streaming” button, I talked with anyone who would listen about going live for the first time. I had about 20 followers before even streaming once. In addition, a couple of my friends were generous enough to tweet out about my first stream which ended up getting me nearly 100 views and about 60 new followers. I was most certainly lucky for that. (A HUGE thank you to AerinNight and JonBams for that!)
What do you stream?
I hope to become a variety streamer – meaning a play a bunch of different games. I’d like to play a mix of retro games – favorites from my past – and new releases. But, for now I play Minecraft. I play Minecraft for a bunch of reasons. It’s fun, it’s a sandbox game – so it has huge replay value, it has an extremely active modding community which have extended the gameplay immensely, and not least of all – it has an existing community on twitch that provides me a pool of potential new viewers.
What is your schedule?
I stream every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 9:30pm EST – 11:30pm EST. Monday and Tuesday I play single-player, and Friday I play on a server where anyone in the community is welcome to play with us. You can find the stream at http://twitch.tv/thewizardllewyn. Having a schedule is huge – people will start to look forward to you going live, and are often available at the same time every week.
A final note
If you like the social and community aspects of video games, I recommend you check out twitch, pick a game you like, and watch some of the more popular (or, make someone’s day and find a less-popular) stream and check it out. Thanks for listening and I hope to see you in one of my streams!