Before I started streaming, I spent a lot of time watching streamers and determining for myself what I believed a good stream is made of and what kept me coming back to certain streams. The information here is very personal, but the objective of it is to inspire deeper thought into your own definition of an enjoyable stream and how you can blend the features of other streamers into your own special cup. These are some of the thoughts that I considered when creating my library of Twitch entertainment and how I wanted to structure the foundation of my stream.
This topic comes first and will be the largest as I think it is the most important factor when deciding if I plan on sticking with a stream. I personally prioritize streamer over content since a consistent streamer is much more reliable than leaning on specific stream content. I think of streamers like co-workers or classmates. If we were in the same environment where we needed to frequently interact, would I feel comfortable doing so? There are a few factors I consider when determining this.
Respect – Another big one is respecting your audience. This means having the flexibility to be able to work with a range of viewers and properly saying farewell to the ones who don’t want to work with you. What feels appropriate kind of depends on a stream by stream basis, so for this I’m going to talk about the bads that I’ve seen. It’s awkward when I’m greeted by a bot or when a bot tracks and announces my presence even when I’m lurking. Too close for comfort. At the same time, I find it strange when a streamer doesn’t interact with his/her chat at all. Viewers will let you know what they want out of your stream and a part of streaming is to accommodate for that.
Consistency – This is a big point that encompasses a lot of aspects of streaming. Things I look at when considering consistency include frequency of streaming, flow of stream content, and mood and behavior. It’s difficult to stay interested in a stream when the start times are infrequent and spontaneous, if the streamer frequently starts content and moves on before completion, or if the streamer seems like a different person every stream. The most successful approach to consistency that I’ve seen is to have a game or particular content act as the backbone for someone’s stream. From there, it’s possible to rubber band back and forth between diversity and consistency, especially if new stream content is within the same realm or genre as the backbone. In the case of variety streaming, consistency comes from sticking to commitments and scheduling content to be predictable.
Another important consideration for me is the type of crowd that is active in chat. There are some streams that I simply won’t watch if the chat is moving at an absurd pace or contains questionable conversation topics and comments. The type of chat environment that cumulates into a stream is ultimately dictated by the streamer and how he/she directs the chat. In a way, I consider the chat environment to be a reflection of the streamer’s behavior. At the very least, you will encounter people who you can and cannot get along with regardless of who the streamer is, and it is best if the general chat environment is inclusive.
Stream Layout and Balance
How pleasant someone’s stream looks and sounds is pretty important, probably even more so to some than others. In the case of a widescreen 16:9 game, I generally lean towards full screen game with no extra fluff. There’s almost always a nice little corner to tuck a webcam in if the streamer has one, and it just makes viewing more pleasant when there are no loud borders distracting from the game. Frames and layouts don’t turn me away from a stream unless they pull attention away from the actual content being streamed. In the case of a 4:3 game, I prefer to have some sort of layout and not stare into a black void that the game feed is resting on. 4:3 games are where I like to see a streamer personalize or theme a layout. Even having official or credited original art work of the game being streamed resting in the background helps visually as well as shows a little effort and thought put in.
I’m not certain how many people actually read Twitch panels when a streamer has them available, but for me this is the first thing I look at. The panels give me a lot of insight on a streamer such as his/her history, upcoming content, and hopefully a preview of the streamer’s personality. To me, simply choosing to have updated and personalized panels at all says something about a streamer. I rarely use Twitch panels as a deciding factor for whether or not I continue to view someone’s stream, but my general opinion is that it can only help.
That about sums up the major points. Just as a reminder, these are simply topics that I personally find important when I consider viewing a stream long term. At the same time, those topics become the approach and features I want to utilize in my own stream. Your opinion may differ or completely disagree with mine, but I hope this article motivates some deeper thinking into whatever direction you choose to go. Happy streaming!
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