BCM302 Digital Artefact Contextual Essay

Project Summary

My Digital artefact is a Twitch channel called Mr4Eva. Coming from a background of running my own YouTube channel as well as editing and working with some relatively large influencers on YouTube (300-600k subs) I felt that while I had enjoyed creating YouTube content, I felt that I may enjoy and be successful in doing gaming live streaming. Currently the most revered and ideal live stream gaming platform is considered by many to be Twitch so I decided I should endeavour to create Twitch channel, some of the inspirations to actually do this came from having some friends who currently live stream and relayed that they enjoyed the unique form of engagement with your audience provides. I felt that I would have success in twitch streaming as I’ve already established somewhat of an audience with my Youtube content, so by creating a twitch I hoped to move my YouTube audience over to view my twitch live streams.

starterpack.png

Analysis of learning moments

I started developing the project by making connections with some small streamers and began to network with these streamers by watching their streams, and communicating with them regularly. By doing so my Twitch channel would regularly be hosted by them, and I would also regularly host them back. Over time this began to progress into somewhat of a stream community in which I could consistently expect many of these streamers to host me when they finish their streams.

 

Some important achievements to note since I started this project are achievements such as becoming a Twitch affiliate. As a Twitch affiliate you are able to monetize your content through twitch and gain perks such as the ability for users to subscribe and donate bits to you, bits are a virtual twitch currency that when paid out to the live streamer causes a message to appear on your live stream.

Another great perk of becoming a Twitch affiliate is that you are able to gain Emotes, in three different tiers, often if the emote is attractive or has some utility this will encourage users who watch your stream to actually engage with you.

When developing and creating my own emotes I realized given that affiliates are limited to three emotes (with the price being outrageous for subscribers to sub for more than 1) I felt it important to make my tier 1 subscription emote ($4.99 usd) to be extremely useful to my users even if they weren’t using it on my own stream.
For this reason using, my experience and talents creating pixel art I created an emote with the words ‘Pro Gamer’ by creating this users are able to spam the emote generally when something on stream occurs is not at all what you would consider a pro gamer to do.

112 pro

In my experience with this emote the emote seemed to be spammed most whenever I died in Dark Souls (A notoriously difficult JRPG) or when I lost in a game of Rocket League.

While I could have made another emote I felt that by creating an emote with utility and with prompts me directly (saying on stream, “Can we get a pro gamer emote for that one please chat”) my livestream’s chat improved in engagement by the chat feeling more involved in the stream by responding to my requests for the emote to be dropped in chat.

During my time observing some other small streamers who I see share a viewership with me, though rare I observed a few times where even though the viewer didn’t know I was in the chat, they would use my pro gamer emote whenever the streamer did something that was very unlike a pro gamer.

This type of comedy is important I feel to my identity as I find myself on stream almost constantly talking sarcastically as it’s a form of comedy I enjoy, and beyond that, something that my followers likely enjoy as well. (As identified in my starter pack above)

As I continued to stream I began to consider what it was that was attractive about Twitch to users and how I could further improve my growth and engagement so I looked into some academic writing and external insight into Twitch.

After talking to some of my university peers I was recommended to listen to a Podcast by WYNC Studios ‘On The Media: Twitch and Shout’ which held great insight into what is interesting about twitch, with the hosts describing Twitch as ‘It’s like watching someone think.’
This is a unique way of looking at twitch as it’s not something that’s ever been actually asserted by anyone internally within the Twitch platform, but upon consideration I think this is an important epiphany as it allows me to understand what is attractive to users about the unique Twitch platform.

Some important learning moments were when I asked a fairly succesful streamer of 15k followers about what advice they had for streamer starting out and how to grow an audience, he said to me that for him it was important to be consistent streaming regularly then the issue of looking at growth, and also explained that growing a twitch channel to a partner channel size can take quite a while, he also stated that it’s important to ‘stay active on socials.’

Currently for my Mr4Eva internet persona I don’t use my fb page at all, as I feel there is none of my audience there after trying to use it for a while, instead I feel it’s better for me to engage with my audience outside Twitch and YouTube on Twitter so I have tried to be quite active on there.
However, this was an interesting point to me as it lead me to think more about how to get engagement and responses on twitter posts so I did some research into social media marketing. In Shainesh and Heggde’s ‘Social media Marketing: Emerging concepts and Applications’ they describe with a case study of a medical home service that their advertising campaigns on Facebook were a lot more engaging when they used images and videos, and used original content. And that after putting out these posts, it was bad to stagnate with the same creative content for an advertisement as their audience could cause ‘ad fatigue.’
After discovering this I thought back to how I would advertise my stream on twitter, where I realized I was simply posting my stream link and not really acknowledging how much more engaging me posting my stream link could be for followers on my twitter.

It occurred to me, If I am to improve my twitter engagement at the very least, I could create an attractive image to let my followers know I’m going live.

This shocked me, though 3 likes and a comment on the post cannot possibly be considered a large amount, however, since posting my stream link with images I’ve noticed significant and consistent increase in user engagement on each time I post that I’m going live.

An interesting collection of data from Hilvert-Bruce, Neill, Sjöblom and Hamari’s ‘Social Motivations of live-streaming viewer engagement on Twitch’ analysed the reasons and relating emotional and social reasons for viewer engagement on twitch. Some of the more interesting data is this table, which displays the percentage and connections between variables and the reasons for Twitch subscriptions.

The most notable being social interactions as well as a sense of community.
By considering this data and much more of the data gathered by the authors of this paper I am able to clearly assert how best to monetize my channel. By prioritizing the viewer experience around social interaction and community I will be able to encourage viewers to be more likely to subscribe then if I simply focused on the entertainment aspect of streaming.

Another resource I looked at was Paswan’s ‘Social Media Strategies’ though his writing is very basic, Paswan has clearly outlined some clear guidelines for marketing on social media as well as growing a brand or products engagement. Some of the clear points he identifies are the importance of using the correct social media that your target audience engages with, correctly identifying and researching your audience’s interests (Starter packs) and from that creating content that will appeal to that audience’s interests.
He also points out the importance of image and video content over text based posts on social media (the same point as Heggde and Shainesh).

In Jones and Liu’s paper ‘Heroes and Zeroes: Predicting the Impact of new video games on Twitch.tv’ they have amassed data to try to analyse how quickly a new game draws viewership on twitch, and how this viewership decays over time as the game no longer becomes ‘new.’

An interesting piece of data is the total viewers on twist over time, which displays a notable spike on the weekend.

While I was able to have already identified just from trial and error, actually have the data displayed makes this very clear that my ‘feeling’ that I generally gain more viewers on weekends, is not just a feeling and an actual fact.

Another interesting point that this paper identifies is that when a new game comes out, it is only the top percentile of twitch streamers who already hold a monopoly on the viewership of twitch who actually gain any real benefit or boost in viewers from streaming a brand new game,
while small streams (under 500 viewers) seem to be able to stream new games with a boost in viewership once the larger streams are no longer streaming it.
This is shown in their data and correlates with this article by Megan Ellis that also suggests to build an audience as a small streamer you should stream non-over saturated games that may have even been released months ago but still hold an active viewership.

Other similar advice in this article that correlates with John Morton’s guide to growing a Twitch channel is the importance of a schedule. Thus far, I haven’t actually created a schedule for my stream as I don’t feel I will be able to consistently stay on a schedule however I intend to create one once the uni semester is over.

An idea I hadn’t considered until very recently was something I learnt from reading Robert Wiesehan’s article on which are the best games to stream on twitch.

In his article he points out an interesting idea in regards to Steam (The main platform/store for PC gaming) and how a great idea for what to stream is stream whatever game is the most advertised or sold on steam. He points out how sudden huge sales and price drops on otherwise for forgotten titles can ‘rekindle interest’.
While he doesn’t outright use the term niche marketing, I think the method of streaming niche titles is by the best way to get started on Twitch in growing a viewer ship as appose to streaming over-saturated games like Fortnite and League of Legends which have the biggest viewership on Twitch.

In my experience on streaming some of the most surprising things were how popular pixel art is on twitch, because the medium of pixel art is a relatively obscure one and very nostalgic for a lot of user’s interest in retro games like Pokemon on the Gameboy. It seems that there is a huge community on Twitch who are interested in specifically pixel art because it is so ‘out there’ from regular art streaming on Twitch.

In Gandolfi’s paper ‘To watch or to play, It is in the game: The game culture on Twitch.tv among performers, play and audiences’ there is a huge amount of data from polling audiences which clearly identifies what the interests are of Twitch’s viewership as a whole.

[Gandolfi, E 2016]

Here from their sample of mostly college to highschool aged people, Gandolfi has surveyed a general identity of what the gaming interests are of the Twitch platform.

Some of the more interesting survey data collected by Gandolfi however is the user’s habits and reasons for engaging with twitch as a whole.

[Gandolfi, E 2016]

Here we can see that most Twitch users are generally only watching 0-3 hours a week, and the main reason for them to engage with Twitch is to watch specific personalities rather than specific games. Though it is also an interesting point that generally it seems users prefer to engage with games that they are familiar with or own already.

The other interesting piece of data is that generally users prefer to watch gameplay passively rather than directly engaging with the streamer.
This is something that I have experienced myself, as well as often noticing when watching some small streamers with a usual of audience of 30 or more people watching but a very silent chat despite the large amount of people watching.

In Michael Andronico’s article on streaming on twitch, he writes about how streamers like Sonja Reid (Omgitsfirefoxx) referes to her viewers as the ‘foxx family.’
This is something I’ve seen other streamers do, and by referring back to some of the data above where Hilvert-Bruce and his co-authors found that the influences for subscribing to a twitch streamer was 31% related to a ‘sense of community’ by subscribing to the twitch streamer. This data and Andronico’s article both emphasise on this point of creating a sense of community in twitch streaming. In fact Reid stated herself that “I get to know a lot of my [viewers], and remember what’s going on in their lives and chat with them about it in stream,”
Reid further expresses that her community has bonded with her stream so much that it seems she can stream practically anything even obscure titles like Barbie’s Dreamhouse and her entire community was still “cheering me (sic) on.”

I think this is an important learning point to consider in the future of my twitch channel that I should really emphasise the importance of getting to know viewers and asking about how they are regularly, to encourage them to keep returning as part of the ‘community.’

Overall, using this data as well as the advice I’ve received from other streamers it seems that as long as I continue to focus on growing a community, and streaming niche titles or art forms like pixel art my stream is likely to continue to grow with my end goal being to continue to monetize my content and eventually become a twitch partner, a goal which is essentially achieved by streaming 5 days a week and averaging 75 viewers at a minimum.
I can see the near future the biggest difficulty will be remaining consistent over time despite any personal issues in life if you can’t consistently stream with a schedule then no matter how great a community I attempt to build there won’t be any consistent viewers without a schedule.
– Blake Foggo

Reference List:

Abumrad J, & WYNC Studios, 2018 On The Media ‘Twitch And Shout’
https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/on-the-media-2018-08-17 [Accessed 16/10/18]

Heggde, G, Shainesh, G, 2018 ‘Social Media Marketing: Emerging concepts and applications’ Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan pp.198-207

Hilvert-Bruce, Z, Neill, JT, Sjöblom, M, Hamari, J, 2018, ‘Social Motivations of live-streaming viewer engagement on Twitch,’ Computers in Human Behavior, Vol 84, pp.58-67

Paswan, A, 2018 ‘Social Media Marketing Strategies,’ DAWN: Journal for Contemporary Research in Management. Vol 5:1, pp.8-11

 

Jones, I, Liu, H, 2017 ‘Heroes and Zeroes: Predicting the Impact of new video games on Twitch.tv’ Social and Information Networks, Cornell University Library.
https://arxiv.org/abs/1707.05831v1 [Accessed 16/10/18]

Ellis, M 2017, ’10 Tips for Building an Audience for your live streaming channel’
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/solo-live-streaming [Accessed 16/10/18]

Morton, J 2018. ‘A Growth Hacker’s Guide to Growing your Twitch Channel’
https://medium.com/@jomosenpai/a-growth-hackers-guide-to-growing-your-twitch-channel-2018-part-1-6-what-kind-of-streamer-are-619f8464fe82 [Accessed 16/10/18]

Wiesehan,R 2018 ‘Can’t get viewers on Twitch? You’re playing the wrong games’
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cant-get-viewers-on-twitch-youre-playing-the-wrong-games [Accessed 16/10/18]

Gandolfi, E 2016 ‘To watch or to play, It is in the game: The game culture on twitch.tv among performers, plays and audiences’ Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 8(1):63-82

Andronico, Michael 2018 ‘The ultimate Guide to Twitch Streaming’
https://www.tomsguide.com/us/twitch-streaming-guide,review-3009.html [Accessed 19/10/18]

 

Advertisements