Friday, February 23, 2018

Twitch: (Part 2) Being a Good Twitch Viewer

About a year ago, I made a blog on how to be a good viewer offering advice on manners, expectations, and some ways to support your favorite streamers. To date, it was my most popular blog and included a lot of feedback as well. So now, I would like to provide for you all a 'part 2' of that blog. There have been some changes to Twitch since I wrote that, and while I've touched on a couple of those features in other blogs... I'd like to give you another fully fleshed out guide to being a better viewer in your communities. Please enjoy, and share with others.

Being a Good Viewer (Part 2)
(See Part 1 here: First Blog)


I covered quite a few basic 'to know' things in the first blog for etiquette and unspoken do's and don'ts. I'll share now a few more I either neglected to mention before or that have become new things within the last year to know.

Don't sass a channel's mods. You'd think this would go without saying... however, I've seen both while modding myself and as just a viewer, far too many people make this mistake. And I don't mean just trolls trying to cause trouble. I've seen people with year long sub streaks do this. It really comes down to the mood of that channel's community and streamer. Some are more lax on joking around with the mods and streamer... others are not. So be sure you have assessed that mood before you choose to "joke around" with the mods so to speak. Rarely in any channel however, will they or the streamer, tolerate disrespect of their mods. A mod is a volunteer gig, and a lot of mods pour hours of commitment into their role. Streamers are protective of their mods, because without them, their channel wouldn't run as well as it does. If you absolutely feel the need to question how a mod is doing something... I suggest you wait until after the stream is done, and message the streamer privately about it. Don't call out a mod or insult them in the chat itself. If you do it respectfully, you can usually talk to the streamer or a 'head mod' about any staff member you think is being unfair toward you.

Don't say or imply a streamer is boring. Using the 'ResidentSleeper' emote for example can be rude, depending how you're using it. Some streamers even take offense if you say you fall asleep to their streams (though many people mean this as a compliment to the streamer's voice, not that they are boring.) Questioning the games the streamer plays, the activity they are doing, how much they speak or don't speak. Just don't do it... there is no reason to be rude. If you don't like a stream, just move on to something else. All streams and streamers are different and there is something for everyone.

Don't ask for shout outs, or advertise your own things. A name shoutout sometimes is okay. Some viewers like a simple recognition from a streamer they love, some are showing their friends and want to prove its live. Most often though, without explaining yourself, asking for a shoutout is seen by streamers as asking for a form of advertising. Some might be okay with advertising (Banlish for example encourages streamers supporting one another, as long as you do it properly), but in general... it'll be seen as rude. If you insist on asking for a shout out, at least explain the reasoning so they know that it isn't you advertising.

Don't ask for mod. If you ask for it, it almost guarantees that you wont get it. The best way for you to become a mod, is to be active in the chat regularly and show up to most streams. Being helpful to fellow chatters, saying hit to everyone, etc. can also show you as a good candidate. The stream's mods or streamer may approach in the future when they're looking for new staff if you caught their eye through example alone.

Support Your Favorite Streamers

The first blog offers quite a few ideas on ways to support streams. However, here are a few more that popped up in the last year or that I didn't add to the first blog.

CLIPS! Clips are 30-60 second highlights of a stream, that you edit and name. One of the absolute best ways you can support your streamers is to take good clips, and share those clips elsewhere online. When you make a clip, in the upper right are some social media sharing options. I almost always tweet my clips out using that option. There is also a new feature by Twitch called "Twitch Badge's" that will award you a channel-specific badge for reaching a certain amount of views on two or more clips in that channel. They are a monthly award though, so you'll need to be consistent with your clipping if you want to keep it. Some streamers also use clips in special highlight videos and will most likely give you credit if they use your clip. So if you are one of those that like recognition... there you go.

Give feedback. NOT in the chat, unless a streamer asks for it at that specific time. However, most streamers will have a Twitter, Strawpoll, or Discord where they might ask you for some Feedback. Don't dismiss this! Streamers are always looking for ways to improve their content, and feedback (as with any company) is one of the most valuable things you can give them. Be honest, just don't be rude. Constructive criticism is gold. The streamer may be doing something unknowingly that annoys their viewers, but noone speaks up. They might also be missing out on doing something simple that could dramatically improve the stream's quality. Unless you tell them... they might not know.

Take part in community activities. Streamers really want to build up report with their viewers. Some will do giveaways, some will do community games, some will ask for fanart. There are a lot of ways you can be part of the community without paying a dime. Pay close attention to these opportunities. AuroraPeachy for example has 'Peachy Parties' when she plays Guild Wars 2, where people can join her party in game and hang out together. Or they'll go do some daily activity in the game together. p4wnyhof has monthly giveaways for everyone to enter that includes GREAT prizes (1080ti anyone?) Kismet took his mods to a convention with him. Then there are streamers who play party games like Jackbox, Domina, Choice Chamber... and more, which people right from chat can take part in at no cost.

Mods unavailable? Don't try to enforce rules in their absence. However, being a supportive viewer while they're gone by answering questions can be quite helpful to the streamer. Streamer's get asked the same questions hundreds of times and they don't always have the time or patience to keep answering. So if there is not a mod around to do this task for them... feel free to be helpful and answer new viewer's questions for them. Careful of links though, as you'll likely get timed out by the bot on those. If you're a regular viewer, you probably know the answer to a lot of those common questions though.

Forgive Streamers. Every streamer is human, and they are going to have some bad days. Usually if they're smart, they'll just cancel their stream and take time off. But if for some reason they choose to push through and stream anyway... they might not be their usual self. Short tempers, less patience, snippy, depressed... it'll happen. Just be patient and understanding, and make sure the streamer knows you are still there for them and happy to have their stream. Sometimes a streamer just needs to know they aren't alone, and their community can be therapeutic for them. Try not to hold a grudge if they end up getting short with you when normally they wouldn't.

Retweet. Twitter is a main staple of most streams now. Twitch isn't always reliable about letting people know when a stream goes live. So retweeting their 'going live' tweets can make a big difference in who shows up. A lot of channels award chat currency after a certain amount of time from the start of the stream based on how many retweets there have been as well. 

Buy a Game, or Merchandise. Some partnered streamers will have the option on their stream to buy games directly through Twitch itself. Sure, it isn't always the cheapest option online for a game but... if you really want to throw that extra financial support at the streamer, you can do this. A perk to buying games through a streamer's channel is also that Twitch offers some virtual boxes that may give you special channel badges or emotes to use. Streamers also might have other affiliate type links such as Amazon, where if you use their link when you buy things... they get a cut. Then there are merchandise stores (like T-Shirts) with a streamer's art, logos, sayings, etc. you can buy and own a piece of their brand to show off.

There you have it. I hope you checked out my first blog on this subject if you hadn't already; if you had, I hope that this 'part 2' was helpful to you. Thank you for supporting my blogs and considering some of my advice. I adore Twitch, and think that so far they have done most things right to keep growing. Lets all do our part to keep Twitch strong!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Twitch: VOD or Live?

Twitch: VOD of Live?

I think my regular readers have figured out by now that I am an regular viewer of Twitch. So now I would like to touch on the benefits of both Video on Demand (VOD) or Live watching. Both have an advantage over the other, and both can still support your favorite streamers. So lets talk about some of those perks.

The preferred way of most viewers on Twitch is to watch their streamers live. This is because, pending a few other factors, you can interactive directly with that streamer while you are watching them. I've said before and I'll say again, Twitch is an amazing social experience and can even help those of us with depression, anxiety, or loneliness. So being able to talk to not only the streamer, but people in chat as well, can really make for an enjoyable experience which you can only get watching it live.

Another perk to live viewing is that many streamers have giveaways. By being present live, you are probably earning a 'chat currency' which is a loyalty system for viewers, where they earn points that they can then spend on whatever prize that streamer is offering. Not all streamers use the currency system though. Some streamers use third-party programs to do giveaways, and again, it comes down to you being there while they are live to enter (and often times claim the prize.)

If you want to interact directly with the streamer, you may also get an opportunity with party games like Jackbox or other interactive games the community can join in on. This again, requires you to be there when they are live. Streamers have many different ways to decide who joins them in games, but regardless of how, you MUST be there at the time of the game in order to play with them, obviously. A lot of game developers have also created games that integrate directly with Twitch chat, so that you as the viewers get to influence the game that the streamer is playing. I've seen some amazing ones myself, and they can be a lot of fun even if you are only typing "1" or "jump" in chat. Heh.

Support your streamer in several ways. By being there live, you are contributing to their ad revenue, their live viewer count, and their chat activity. These things are important to a streamer for many reasons. Even if you are doing nothing more than lurking in the chat... you are supporting them. Not to mention if you throw in all the extras like sharing a Tweet that they're live, giving them a host, or being interactive in chat with welcoming new people or answering questions the streamer or their mods might not always catch.

Video on Demand (VOD)
So what is a VOD some of you might wonder. It is essentially YouTube, on Twitch. When a streamer goes live, they have the option to have it save to Twitch directly. This means that even if you don't catch them live, you can still see the stream and what you missed in the form of a non-live video. This might not be as exciting an option as watching Live, but I'll share a few perks to watching VOD's.

You support your streamer. Even if you were not able to be there live, viewing their VOD will give credit to their channel. This 'traffic' as its called, can be used by the streamer to show to partners, affiliates and advertisers to encourage more financial support toward their channel. So don't feel bad if you couldn't make a live stream. You can still watch the VOD, and get to see all their glorious content, as well as give them support.

Twitch added an interactive feature in VOD's that let you join in on the chat in a past-tense fashion. This isn't the same as being in chat live, but if you are watching the VOD and you wanted to get in your thought on something, you can say so and it will add it into the chat replay for you so your streamer can see it if they decide to review that VOD.

You can watch a VOD almost anytime you want. Regardless of your sleep or work schedule, a VOD is there for you to pop on once you have the time to sit down and enjoy it. Twitch is meant to be a live streaming site, but we can't always make our favorite streamer's live schedules. Now keep in mind, VOD's aren't permanent... they DO go away after a certain amount of time as far as I've been told. So don't wait months to watch one, but don't be in a panic either... you'll have time. If a streamer makes a 'highlight' though, that stays forever.

Get that perfect clip. Sometimes clipping on a live stream can get distracting, or you can't get the perfect timing on the clip before its passed by. In a VOD, you can still clip! This is in fact the PERFECT opportunity to do so too, because you can pause/play at just the point you like to get that clip just how you want it. A lot of streamers use Discord and have a clip channel, so throw that perfect clip in there and be proud!

A "newer" feature (previously Vodcast, now called Rerun) of Twitch I'll mention quickly is the 'Rerun' feature. It is essentially a VOD, but broadcast live; yes I know, that's a little confusing. Basically what this does, is it shows the VOD for viewers/chatters to see together live, but without the streamer present. So you and anyone watching this re-broadcast VOD at the time it shows "live" allows you to interact and chat with those people while you all enjoy the content. So its kind of a blend of the Live cast and VOD. Basically its: Stream, no streamer, live chat.

So there you go. Several ways to watch your favorite streamers, support them, and enjoy yourself some amazing content on Twitch. Don't forget to see if that streamer as a YouTube channel too... which is a great way to catch some of the oldest content from that streamer since YouTube videos stick around forever.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gaming: Role Play

If you have been on Twitch for a while, you've probably seen SOME form of role play in one capacity of another. It comes in many forms, and at its most basic is people with similar interests joining together in a game to play out a role.

Role play has existed in our lives further back than we can probably even prove. Bedrooms, brothels, acting, spies... its about pretending to be someone you aren't. One of the more well known and popular forms of role play is Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) which had books that gave rules, guidelines, and help toward creating fun games to join together in around a table.

The internet also helped creative a new 'genre' of role play so to speak, called MUDs. What they became were text-based role play, done in chat rooms or forums. Essentially its the same as that D&D game around a table, but its people around the world joined in a single chat room instead for example. These are still popular today, even if its a bit of a dying art. Find the right corners of the net, and you'll still come across text role players. Its one of my own personal favorite styles too.

I have done role play since my pre-teen years. It began on a computer unit called WebTV, where I joined in on local chat rooms and watched what they were doing. When I felt comfortable enough, I joined in and got a feel for it. I continued to do so off and on for the next 20 years (and still do.) I have also role played in one of the growing trends in recent years, MMO's.

Typically in an MMO you are questing, battling other people, and leveling your character for better gear and skills. Some people took it upon themselves though to create entire servers devoted to role play. You get all the same content, but the players on that server enforce strict "in character only" chat. So when you interact with another player, you'll be doing so as the character you portray instead of as you the player. People build grand stories and adventures around this.

The main appeal of role play is story telling. Either you tell a story, or you participate in a story someone else is telling. You get to take part in a story live and ongoing, almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The people in charge of the story (called a DM or GM; Dungeon or Game Master) will provide what you need to participate, and then you play. Its a lot more fun than I think I can properly tell you in this blog alone. If you love to read though, or write, or act... I suggest you dabble a bit in any role play you discover to see if its something you could enjoy. Don't judge it off one try though, as so many things can go wrong in a single session of role play. Try it a few times, and if you still notice you are not enjoying yourself... maybe its not for you. You can still enjoy watching/reading it though!

Some places I can recommend you to look for role play is the following: Twitch (GTA role play and other MMO's, D&D, VRChat), Gaia Online (forum/avatar based), Facebook groups, chat clients (nearly all of them will have a role play section), and Google Search. Be mindful some role play falls into the erotic category, so double check what it is before you join in on it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hot Topics: The Poor Trap

I've put off doing this particular blog because its not only personal for me, but personal for many people I know. Keep in mind what I'm about to discuss is my experiences and knowledge within the United States only. If it applies elsewhere, or is still better than other places... that is not the point of this particular blog. So lets begin.

So what is a 'Poor Trap' you might wonder from the title? Its not the first time the term has been used, nor do I think it will be the last. It means in short... a trap that keeps poor people poor. The 'system' that is supposed to help and support the community, which in fact, creates a cycle that is nearly inescapable. When people (usually those who haven't been poor) say: "Its America, everyone has the same opportunity if they work hard and apply themselves," its a lie. Maybe they truly believe this lie, maybe some just say it to dismiss the subject and move on in the conversation so they don't have to face the reality. I even have family who have said these very words. I say again: its a lie.

America's foundation may have started on the concept of hard work and perseverance. America had many times in its history where this very concept is what made this country a great place. That's not what it is anymore. Most likely if you are born poor in America... you'll be stuck poor the rest of your life. If you disagree, I'll be explaining further as we go in this blog on why this is true. We aren't supposed to have a caste system where your station is based on your birth... but the way things work, this is how it turns out.

People may want to believe that if you work hard, it pays off. That one day all of that hard work will add up to you living a comfortable, sustainable life or even better. This partly stems from the days where skills were passed from parent to child, and often times the children got to learn things that could be applied later in life in a job. Now, labor jobs are limited; several companies outsource to other countries for cheaper labor. A growing population also makes demand for jobs higher. Then there is the failing health system that makes it nearly impossible for someone to work if they've gotten any kind of injury or illness. Think they can just jump on Disability? Think again. One of the hardest programs to get into is the Disability program. Its limited, its losing funding, and fraud (as in all systems) drains on its resources as well. There is also the baby boomer generation that needs SSI to live on (another thing constantly getting threatened to lose more and more funding.)

Lets say you are born into a poor family. Maybe its a single parent household, or two parents but one is injured, sick, or unable to find work. Heck, with the cost of living now, maybe even both parents work! Now, there are several factors to consider (how many children, where do you live, how is the current economy) but lets just go with a simple average one or two kids, in an average town. Minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 as of 2015. That is about $15,000 a year working full time (40hrs a week) all year. So families of two? That's below the federal poverty level. Most jobs these days wont pay more than minimum wage, and if they do, it takes about a year to start really increasing at all.

Now, imagine something happens that makes you have to call in to work on occasion. Maybe your child is sick and you have no other family to watch them. You can't afford a baby-sitter on your wage either. So you miss work. You now are going to make less than that $15,000. That's looking long term too. Most poor people have to live month to month... week to week... or even day to day. So because you or your child were sick, your paycheck will be smaller. Is your car in working order? If you're like most poor, your car was bought either used, or was a gift (if you're lucky.) You better hope that your car doesn't break down, because just having enough to pay gas to get you to work is all you can afford. Public transit? Yeah... get ready to get sick more often, be late to work several times, oh and the cost of daily public transit can sometimes add up to be more expensive in a month than just buying gas.

Have all your bills paid yet? Poor people often times have to decide what to go without, because they don't make enough each month to cover the basics of living on their wage. Food... or heat? Gas... or hot water? Then you have to remember if you have kids... they grow. They need new clothes, even if you don't. You aren't likely to make your kid go without food if you can help it... but are you getting all your meals? Research shows adult parents will -often- times (not sometimes... often) go without eating to ensure their kids can eat. Have you ever tried working a hard labor job on an empty stomach? I have. Its not easy and you're a lot more likely to faint, slow down, or get injured (not to mention your mood.) And don't get me started on the quality of food... okay fine, I will.

"But Jessimi, aren't there all sorts of resources out there for people to get food?"
Sure. You can get food stamps (about 190 a month for one adult now), and if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with these resources, you might also have food pantries that give food to the poor. Oh, but don't think that's easy either. Make sure you have time outside of work, and someone to watch your kid, so that you can go stand in a huge line (probably in the blistering heat or freezing cold, outside) just to sign up. Then you have to go back in a month to stand in that same (or worse) line to wait to get your food. Sure, its free... you aren't going to starve now. Except the food they give you is often times expired or on the verge of expired (yes, I'm not lying... I've experienced this over and over myself.) Fruit full of bruises or bug holes, bread that is beginning to get hard or will mold in probably two days, and mysteriously branded canned meats that you can't even make taste good mixed into other things. Some places might be better about this than others, but I suspect more often than not people experience the same I did. But alas... its free food... and you aren't going to starve now (and yes... poor people will be grateful for ANY food, even if its bad.) If you've never felt true hunger, then you probably can't understand why.

Its a struggle just to stay poor and not homeless. I'd bet money though that if you ask someone you know who is poor if they've ever been homeless before or know someone close who has... they'll tell you yes. In a way, its ALMOST easier to be homeless. No more worries about bills, endless paperwork, people judging you on your home or lifestyle... but then there is that every day struggle to survive. Find food, stay warm, and avoid dangerous people and places. Did you know that currently 1 in 30 children are homeless in America? Children. Hungry, scared, cold, probably dying too... children. Not to mention the adults, many of whom are Veterans who served and protected this country.

I've been homeless. If you've read some of my other blogs on personal experiences, you'll have seen a bit about it. I've been hungry, several times in my life, where I would eat -anything- edible available to me. Yes, in my youth, I even stole for food once or twice. I've been cold; my Mom and I if not sleeping in our car (which you can't afford to keep running all night with the heater) would sleep on the floor of a generous stranger's home or one time even a church roof top. We woke up soaked and near frozen due to the morning dew having soaked our sleeping bags. I've been scared and in danger of my life. On numerous occasions, the only places to stay, hang out, or rest... were places of danger. Places other homeless might go. Places shady people or drug users might go to ALSO avoid the police who arrest the homeless for where they sleep. Tents don't protect you from knives by the way. My Mom did the best she could... she worked anywhere that would let her clean a floor or some other degrading job. It was enough to feed us sometimes, and keep a tiny bit of gas in the car that we lived in.

So what if you are poor, and on the "system" in America? The system would be a mix of things like SNAP (food stamps), maybe some cash aid or WIC if you have kids, SSI if you were fortunate enough to somehow get in that system (which is near impossible), and maybe a program here or there to reduce the cost of your bills. I've already explained a little bit why this system doesn't work. Let me give you a further look into some of the things people in the "system" have to live with and why its nearly impossible to get out of.

If you look it up online, you can determine what the current cost of living is in America. That is going to change based on things like state, city, gender, children, unemployment rate... you get the point. Well maybe you are wondering why poor people don't just save up money over time, even if only a little bit. First off, saving any money is nearly IMPOSSIBLE... trust me, there is not even a penny left by the end of the month. Lets say you're lucky though and somehow had something left over. Well, in many of these "systems" you're on, you have to report any extra money you get. Doesn't matter if it was a gift, or maybe a $20 you found in your purse you somehow missed. They expect you to report all of it. Now, lets say you are an honest person and do report any and all extra bits of money here or there to them. Well... first off they'll ask you why you have extra money; how, when, and why. Then, they'll calculate any extra you got or made... and get this... deduct it from the next month's benefits you get. Yep. If you somehow goodness forbid, get AHEAD... they will take it away from you the next month so that you're no longer ahead. So there goes that great idea of saving money. And if you happen to do this too often... perhaps you make money mowing lawns on the side for example... eventually, they'll just straight cut you off your benefits. Its determined you don't need them anymore if you're able to make this "extra" money now. Well... most likely, any of this "extra" money is only temporary, and good luck getting back on the system again. Ever wonder why there is so much fraud out there?

So back to those children again. Remember earlier when I mentioned the caste system in America? Well if you happen to be unfortunate enough to be born into a poor family, you are likely to grow up this way. You will live in low income communities.

Your child's education wont be even close to the level of standard of schooling that a higher income child would get. Schools in poor communities are a joke. They're over-crowded, their teachers are under-paid and overworked, their food is usually some kind of imitation mush of whatever its called, and because of these things the students are pushed through the system whether they are learning or not, just so they can graduate and free up a spot for the next kid so the school can make their money and stay open. Not to mention the extra dangers because kids from poor families and poor communities are more likely to be around crime, and have health and mental issues. So now your children are caught up in the poor trap. They aren't going to get a good education in the K-12 system, and you can't afford to pay for them to go to college. If they want to pay for themselves, then they have to find a job. Remember those struggles on work I mentioned earlier? Good luck kid. If you do get a job, it wont be enough to pay for all your classes and books and the transportation to get to and from your job and school. (Are you getting any sleep?) If you get a degree you can afford in that community college... you better hope it was for a job in demand. I know several millennials personally who got college degrees that ended up being totally useless in this economy. But good job going to college... at least you made the effort to lessen your ignorance on many things. (I mean that sincerely, being one of those graduates myself.)

Your child in this low income community must have also survived growing up to even reach college and not just end up being one of the 1 in 30 homeless kids today.

Low income communities also have very bad health systems... which just adds further into the cycle of the poor trap. When people are unhealthy and unhappy, they're not going to be able to work as well. Have you seen how much it costs to go to a doctor now? Let alone afford meds? You better hope you don't get sick or injured. Oh and they don't care about your mental health, so don't even bother. Most insurance that the poor can even get, doesn't cover things like meds, mental health, or dental. No help for the mentally disabled? Hello increased crime, injury, and homelessness. Oh and guess where your tax dollars go... yep, paying for all those hospital emergency visits by people who can't afford to go to a clinic; or the cost of hiring police and keeping people jailed so they don't hurt you and your loved ones.

This blog is barely scratching the surface of the issues in America today regarding the caste system and our poor. I touched on some of my own personal experiences, or those of people I know. Every day is a fight for survival when you're born poor... right from birth. You can try to work hard, and educate yourself to work toward getting out of that low income system you grew up with in your house, and maybe... just maybe... you'll get lucky enough to. But for most in America, the cost of living is too high, income is too low, and there just isn't enough care in our country for the ones who struggle; because "work hard and it'll pay off" even though most low income people already work two jobs and more than 40hrs a week and are still around the federal poverty level. But working hard like that doesn't count, right?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Anime Review: Wedding Peach

Wedding Peach

I am a big fan of anime, whether it be newer things like Sword Art Online and Death Note, or older things like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Wedding Peach had been on my list of things to watch for some time, but I couldn't bring myself to binge it for a long while. Now that my computer is acting up and I can't game anymore, I figured it was a good time for anime. So I sat down, and over the next few days I binged on some Wedding Peach. It is a magical girl anime that was on around the same time as Sailor Moon. Funny enough though, you can STRONGLY see that the people who made it were big fans of Sailor Moon. Influences from Sailor Moon were seen all over the anime... going even as far as some of the items looking almost identical if you pause on them at the right moment. As a huge fan of Sailor Moon, I honestly didn't mind this. I thought it was cute and comical to see all the easter eggs.

Now onto the show itself. When I first started it... I had a really hard time pushing forward. I found it more on the corny side than on the quality side. Despite this though, I did keep watching. I'm glad I did. While it wouldn't be in my top ten favorites of all time... it turned out better than I originally expected. It even did a few things better than Sailor Moon in my opinion, such as visible battle injuries and ripped outfits. It always frustrated me when the Sailor Senshi would go through a giant battle and come out only looking a little dirty... lol. Wedding Peach also had some heart felt and serious moments which was a breath of fresh air amid all its other corniness. By the end, I'd really gotten to know the characters and their struggles... which I appreciated.

Some of the things that bothered me about the anime however was the strong wedding theme over-done. Like Sailor Moon, their transformation sequences were too frequent and too long... made worse by the fact they had 2 stages of it. I don't even remember if they explained any benefit to not just jumping into the second stage from the start. The special items/attacks they acquire later on is better, and in Wedding Peach DX their transformations are MUCH improved (sadly for only 4 episodes though.)

I do like the biblical aspect of this anime which was missing/cut out from the original Sailor Moon sadly. This anime was not afraid to go straight for Angels vs Demons. Sailor Moon's biblical influences were removed for the most part in the transition from the manga to the anime... for example how it explains people from the moon were forbidden from interacting with people of the earth. So I was grateful that Wedding Peach was not afraid to dive into this full force with no fear of critics.

So all in all, I enjoyed the anime and wish it could have been longer. Perhaps we'll get a reboot of it one day like we've been seeing with a lot of older anime. I'd watch a reboot. Would I ever claim it as one of my favorites? No. It was a bit TOO corny for my liking, but I still gave it a chance and I don't regret it. If you like the magical girl genre and don't mind some corny, then you might want to give it a try. After all, its back when the genre was still newer and can be seen now as one of the 'founder' animes of the genre.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Twitch: Tips for Streaming

I've held off writing this one, because there is a lot of great information out there already on reddit and youtube for how to be a great streamer. However, I'm going to go ahead and share some of the things I've observed, learned, and heard from other streamers on Twitch. Keep in mind I do not stream yet, so I cannot speak from personal experience. I speak as a viewer and a mod, with the dream to stream in the future. Thus learning as much as I can now is important. So... now I share it with you. I hope you find at least one thing here that perhaps you didn't think of or know that can help! Thanks for reading.

Tips for Streaming on Twitch

#1. Stop Focusing On Your Numbers!
Its easier said than done because you have it in your head that "more numbers means more success." I'm here to tell you that that's not true though. Yes, higher numbers can lead to more success... but lower numbers doesn't mean you are not already successful. Besides, the more you stress on your numbers, the less passion you'll have for your stream because it will begin to get overwhelming if you aren't getting the numbers you want. This is actually something most streamers will tell you when asked for tips on streaming. Keep an eye on your numbers... but don't get depressed or stressed if you aren't growing fast enough. It takes time to build a community; focus on making quality streams, and the numbers will come eventually.

#2. A Name Change Will Hurt You.
Sadly the changing of your stream name comes with many complications not just for you but for your viewers. Anywhere online that had your link has now become invalid. People who have you saved in their favorites can no longer use that link to find you. And no... not all users will find you again. Your numbers will drop, any articles linking you are now broken, and your viewers will have a harder time finding you again. Sure, if you had a really bad name you started to hate over time or your stream identity has evolved... its likely necessary and in the long run better to have the new name. If you choose to do that though, just keep the "side-effects" in mind. This may change in the future perhaps with redirect scripts or something... but who knows.

#3. Overlays
This is a tricky one. It raises the quality of your stream to have an overlay. Its easy to go overboard however and clutter up your stream with too busy of an overlay. Sure, there are a lot of great features lately to add to your stream... but your viewers have come to see YOU, and what YOU are doing. If you are hidden behind things, or your game can't be focused on because there are too many animated things on the stream distracting from it... it can get frustrating for a viewer. So try to find a balance and remember that less is more most of the time.

#4. Network, Don't Compete!
"Other streamers are your co-workers, not your competition." (Said by Banlish and other streamers.) In the years I've been on Twitch, I have found that streamers who embrace other streamers find more growth and success than streamers who forbid any sort of advertising of other streams. Yes... its rude for anyone to just pop into your chat and advertise themselves; that's not what I'm saying should be allowed. If you however have a regular viewer for example who you know well, you should consider giving them a shout out. If you have Discord, make a channel that lets people advertise themselves. It doesn't disrupt your live stream, but allows your community to network.

You should also host other streams when yours is over, and if you have a willing community... raid as well! A lot of people will remember that you did them the favor of a host or raid, and eventually return the favor. Sure... maybe some of your streamers might leave to go watch that other streamer instead. But when they return that favor, maybe some of their viewers come to watch you. You aren't losing people... you are networking with your co-workers. There are also programs out there that let people watch multiple streams at a time to support all their favorites at the same time.

#5. Be Honest, But Limit Negativity
You are human, and you are going to have good and bad days. You are going to have problems in your life, or not feel well. Its perfectly okay to admit this to your viewers. Most often they'll sympathize and want what is best for you, because they care and want you at your best so you can stream more. However... don't make negativity a constant thing. If you are complaining about things every time you stream, eventually that negativity is going to wear on your viewers who mainly come to Twitch for entertainment, fun, or distraction from their own problems. So while loyal viewers will still support you through your hard times... too much constant negativity will likely scare off newer viewers who might choose to go to a streamer with a more positive atmosphere. On the reverse... always pretending to be okay and that nothing ever bothers you comes off as 'fake' to some. They think you are disingenuous and putting on more of an act than being a real person. Viewers... just remember too that a streamer who is positive most of the time might just be fortunate enough to not be going through things in their life that are necessary to share with you. So just because they never mention their problems doesn't automatically mean they are being fake.

#6. Stream For Fun, Not Income
We are well aware that successful Twitch streamers can make a solid income. However, there are MANY factors that lead up to that with the main one being time. It takes time to grow, and it takes time to get some regular financial support from your viewers. There is even the chance you might never make money from it. However, its important that your reason for streaming should be about fun, information, or a social atmosphere. If you are going into it expecting money right away, you will get disappointed fast. I've seen streamers who have streamed for YEARS, who don't make a single bit or dollar on their stream. Its not because they're necessarily doing anything wrong either. Sometimes... it just doesn't happen. It doesn't mean you're a bad streamer. It just means you haven't found that right "formula" that works for you yet. Each streamer is different, as is each community. So many factors need to be considered regarding your growth and "success"; Your personality, your appearance (sad but true), what games you play, what days and times you stream (consider school hours, holidays, and real world news), the support or lack of from your mods, the quality of your equipment, do your viewers prefer a green screen or no green screen, do you use a cam, what atmosphere you encourage, how strict your rules are (or how lax), and so much more. You don't have to think about all this... but you should at least be aware that these things DO affect you, and some will be out of your control.

#7. Be a Viewer
Don't just stream and leave Twitch. Go watch other streamers... talk in their chats, get to know people, maybe take up a mod position if you have that extra time. Let other communities get to know you and who you are, and don't do it just to steal viewers or advertise yourself. If you are not genuine, people will see that. I truly mean it when I say go become part of other communities too. I'm not streaming yet, and I have more followers than some streamers I know. Why? Because I've become known in several communities, and sometimes people will follow you just so they don't lose track of you on Twitch. Then, if you stream one day, those people will notice and come to say hi or celebrate with you. You became part of their community, and in turn, they'll also become part of yours.

#8. A Great Mod Team
Last but certain not least... have great mods. If your staff support you, it will greatly impact the success or detriment of your stream. Your mods not only started off as loyal viewers who enjoyed your entertainment, but they become your eyes for chat. They will likely speak to people you might not get the chance to. They'll welcome new viewers and help them learn the rules and the atmosphere of the community, encouraging them to stay and enjoy themselves. Your mods will talk about you to others, and share your social media much more than a lot of your viewers would. They will help catch and remove toxic people from your chat before they can do too much damage... leaving you to keep providing that entertainment without interruption. In a lot of cases, those people might even become your friends. You might meet them in person, or have long conversations off stream, or enjoy some games together. Great mods will also tell you when you're being an idiot, or when something is wrong with the stream. Not because they want to be mean, but because they want to help you and see the stream succeed. Heck, some of the best community of mods I've seen are the ones where the mods are more "troll" toward the streamer than anything else... poking fun at the streamer and able to take a few jabs back at them for a good laugh. If you see a streamer and their mods picking on each other, you know that they've gotten a quality bond. So don't be afraid to add in a few mods, and get to know them over time. You'll weed out the ones who aren't doing it to support you, and one day you wont even have to worry about it because you'll have a team of mods who will remove another mod who they feel is hurting you instead of helping you.

Thank you for taking the time to read these tips. If you enjoyed them and I see the views on this increase... I may consider doing another one in the future. There are no shortages of tips and advice out there on how to improve your stream; all you have to do is look.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Twitch Review: Not Just Entertainment

Twitch Review: Not Just Entertainment
I decided to write about my experiences on this topic, and what I have witnessed over the years since I joined Twitch. Its titled 'Not Just Entertainment' because I am about to explain why Twitch is an important social tool for networking, making friends, and even therapy.

I joined Twitch thanks to my friend TheGingerGinger introducing me to it when he started streaming. My first experiences were watching him play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I got addicted to watching because the game's specialty was its unique runs every play through. This lead me to searching for other people who also played that game when Ginger was offline. That was when I found CobaltStreak and Richard_Hammer. I checked out a few others who were also playing it, but these two just had a charm about them that kept me hooked, especially when they did things together. I was now addicted to Twitch.

Before I knew it, I was "wasting" hours of my day on Twitch enthralled by all the content I could pick from. The variety of games and streamers is endless to search through, and I love it. Perhaps there is a game I like to watch, but the streamer isn't really a personality I enjoy... so I move on to another streamer playing that same game until I find one who's personality fits with me. Personally, as you've read in my other blogs possibly, I am drawn more to 'positive' vibes. Mind you, there are quite a few... ahem... questionable streamers I thoroughly enjoy as well; and they're self-proclaimed assholes.

The difference between a controversial personality I like and one I don't, is how they talk about others. A streamer who makes dirty jokes and aggressive banter with their mods and regulars is actually alluring to me because it shows a sense of trust and kinship with them. Richard_Hammer was one of these types. Then there is a streamer who curses every other word to be edgy... talks down about other streamers... makes fun of people in their chat who they don't like... THAT is a streamer I will avoid in a heartbeat. So by all means, the "asshole" persona can absolutely work on Twitch; if you do it properly. The key to that is... you can be gruff, swear sometimes, playfully trigger your chat, critique the games you play, and still treat your viewers with respect and gratitude. Being a genuine dick to your viewers will only attract trolls to your channel who want to spam the chat, make fun of you in return, and contribute nothing productive to anyone. Sure you'll still get views, follows, even money... but I doubt you'll have as much loyalty as other streamer's communities.

That leads me to touch on the main subject of this blog. Twitch communities, and how they affect people on a personal level. When I started to expand my viewing away from just Binding of Isaac, I came across my first real "community" on Twitch. This was a Dungeons and Dragons stream called HowReRoll (see my other blogs for more on this stream.) My very first impressions there were positive; the mods welcomed me, the viewers welcomed me, and the streamers welcomed me. My voice wasn't lost in an over-active chatroom this time, and it gave me the opportunity to actually get to know the people in that community with my regular visits to the stream. If it wasn't for HowReRoll, I wouldn't have the genuine friendships with some people I have now. I made several friends in that community, some of whom have aided me in my times of need, and some (such as Bane) who I actually plan to meet in person after I move because I'll be closer to them.

To be able to go into a chatroom of a stream and say hello, and have the streamer greet you back and genuinely pleased to see you... its very nice. Sure, not all streamers can do this after they have reached a certain growth in their channel (because chat becomes far too fast to properly speak to everyone), but they find other ways to keep up with their regulars such as 'Sub Only Discord' channels for example. If you are a streamer... I CANNOT express enough how important genuinely talking to people in your chat affects them. You never know what your viewers are going through or how they are feeling; its possible they are depressed or just had a really bad day. So they open your stream to distract them from their own harsh realities, and just a smile and hello from you to them could totally change their mood. Some people will be excited by the fact a streamer they enjoy actually noticed and engaged with them as a real person. That's the magic of Twitch compared to YouTube. The social connection will draw in and keep people there who might be lonely. Sure, Twitch is obviously known for its entertainment aspect. But I think people under-estimate the power of the social side. I'm certain many of you reading this blog now can say that you have either made a friend on Twitch (whether that be the streamer, or someone in the chat community), or that a stream has been a tool at helping you not feel alone because you know if you felt like chatting... there would be someone somewhere on Twitch who would chat with you.

I've witnessed over the years both friendships and relationships blossom thanks to Twitch that otherwise wouldn't have happened. I'm not even talking about just the streamer themselves. The community some streamer's build can grow into a tight knit group of people with similar interests. They'll begin recognizing each other with regular visits, and slowly get to know one another's personalities. I've seen how closely Mods can bond, and become protective of "their" streamer and community. Its amazing to me to just sit back and watch strangers bond on such a level online. I even watched a streamer named Kismet use all his tips (as told to viewers) from Twitch to take his Mods to Twitch Con with him for all their support of him and his stream. STRANGERS bonding online over games, and then coming together to support one another so they can all meet in person and enjoy a trip together for something they all love? Absolutely beautiful to me.

This is where I will touch on the 'therapy' aspect I mentioned earlier. I can personally say I have witnessed several cases of genuine despair from both streamers and viewers. For example, maybe a streamer just lost someone important in their life. You can see on their face how sad and broken they are, and yet they found the strength to still stream. Why? Because like in the physical world... being with people you know care about you can be healing. When we're facing loss, the last thing we want to do is feel alone. So a streamer turns on their stream, and usually (depending on the community) they are welcomed with genuine support and love from their viewers. That can make anyone feel better. Its not just the streamer who gets support either. If a viewer mentions in chat something they are going through, perhaps a health problem, I have seen the streamer call for a show of support for that person (in the form of positive emotes usually) to let them know they aren't alone in their struggles. I witnessed one person who was struggling with cancer and chemo treatments say that visiting that stream and its community helped get them through the constant sickness and eased a lot of their suffering. This is the positive 'therapy' social aspect of Twitch that I've witnessed, and I'm barely touching on what I've seen.

Like any place in the world, you will have your bad people/streamers too. Ones who lie or deceive their viewers into getting more money for example. Assholes are everywhere in the world though. My experiences are just a tiny fraction of the Twitch community in my years spending time there. I have seen that while there are lots of 'troll' and 'gimmick' style streamers there... if you look, you can easily find a community you can fit in to and maybe even make a friend. Smaller streams are usually better for this, as the chat's are slower and people can keep up with communications among one another easier. But don't automatically dismiss larger streamers for this; I've seen more than a handful of high view streams still have a functioning chat community and an interactive streamer who does their best to at least greet you.

So if you're lonely, and looking for more of a community style atmosphere online along with your entertainment... Twitch is a great option for you. I know it was for me. There are even 'community' categories now that cluster streamers of similar interest or personality into one place for you to find easier. My personal favorites: 'Variety Streaming', and 'Positivity'.