Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Twitch Review: Being a Good Twitch Viewer

Being a Good Twitch.tv Viewer

Hi everyone. I decided I was going to take a moment to write a blog on my experiences as a Twitch viewer, and the advice and information I can share with you on how to be a better Twitch viewer. What exactly does that mean, you might wonder? It means that I see people on Twitch in two categories: viewers, and trolls. Obviously I'm not going to give you advice on how to be a troll *wink* but many of us adore our streamers, and in order to support them better we can be better viewers.

Etiquette
This category really depends on the stream you are watching and the type of community they have. You'll see some streamers that are very free with what they say, not caring too much if they offend anyone. You will also see communities that take great care in being careful with their speech and trying to encourage their community to do the same.

So when you first join a stream, its a good idea to read the chat for a day or two, and get a feel for how the streamer wants their community to act. Some streamers have become so big that their chat might be nothing but trolls, spam, and memes. You don't have to care too much how you act there, because chat will be moving so quick no one will likely see what you say anyway.

If you do find a stream and community you enjoy though and wish to take part in regularly... be sure to read their rules, and see what kind of people get timed out or banned. It will help you know what to avoid saying or doing there. Some viewers don't like any kind of censorship, so streams with a more constructed community might not be for those people.

Common no-no behaviors in most communities you should know:
Don't advertise/discuss other streamers in chat. Its considered rude, and you are hurting the streamer when you redirect their viewers to someone else. You very well might get banned for this. You also shouldn't crap talk other streamers in chat either. This is typically frowned on or even removed for toxicity.

Don't spam or "copy pasta" (yes, pasta, not paste) in chat. SOME streamers don't care, but most do. Spamming emotes over and over, or pasting your comment/question every 20 seconds to try to get their attention will likely only get you ignored or timed out. Asking your question twice is usually enough, and if not, its either best to wait for a while to ask again or just give up. Maybe the streamer is too engrossed in what they're doing at that moment to read chat well.

Backseat Gaming, and Meta. In game streams, this is a huge pet peeve. We understand you are excited, and you want to see the streamer get the best loot, or the best score. However... let them do it on their own. Let them fumble, and make mistakes. Just sit back and enjoy a good laugh at their expense instead. Trust me, they prefer that over you trying to tell them every secret of the game or that they're doing it wrong. If a streamer wants to know something, they'll most likely ask chat for help. Otherwise... just keep it to yourself. If it is a multi-player game by the way, definitely don't go telling the streamer what ANOTHER streamer is saying or doing either. This is 'Meta Gaming', meaning you are giving information to the streamer they wouldn't know otherwise and is basically cheating. Most streamers hate meta and don't want you to tell them anything they haven't found out on their own yet.

Let the Mods do their job. Don't harass the mods, challenge the mods, or act like a mod yourself if you aren't one. Being a mod is a thankless job. Its a volunteer position that viewers choose to undertake in order to help support their favorite streamer. Usually you get nothing for it except the thanks of the streamer, and a truck load of frustrations while trying to enforce that channel's rules. I'm a mod in a few streams, I can speak from experience. If you want to help the mods, just be a good twitch viewer. Follow the rules, be welcoming and kind to new viewers, and maybe answer a few questions people are asking in chat if the mods are busy or away. Don't however be a 'Rules Lawyer' yourself and try to yell at other viewers if they're breaking the rules... leave this to the mods and just sit back and enjoy the stream.

Now that you know of some things not to do, I'll talk about some things you should know and do.

Know Your Options
Most streamers don't mind viewers asking a question or two of them from time to time. However, keep this in mind... a channel with 1000+ viewers, might get that same question 100+ times a stream. That can get old for the streamer, and eventually their tone might start to get annoyed, or rushed because they've answered so many times through the day. They aren't trying to be rude to you. Think of it this way: you walk into a store at Christmas time and hear some Christmas music playing. You think to yourself "ah, I love this song... its been so long since I've heard it." How about the cashier? Those Christmas tracks play on a loop and repeat every single day. That's around 8hrs of the same music over and over and over. So while you are hearing a song for the first time that cashier has heard it dozens of times now and is probably sick to death of it.

So this is where I say "know your options". What I mean by this is, start to learn and get used to some of the common Twitch commands so that you don't have to ask the streamer "how long have you been on?" when you can just type !uptime to answer that yourself. Other commands you should get familiar with are !title (which will let you see the stream title which often provides useful information for that day's stream), and !followage (this shows you how long you've followed the channel, and it has a cool down, so it a lot of people spam it at once... it might take a while). There are more, and most channels have unique ones you can either learn in time or find listed under their stream. !raffle, !contest, !rules, !social, !twitter, and more are ones I've seen in a lot of channels. Streamers often provide a popular command like !raffle in their title if something is going on that day.

Also learn about 'Better Twitch TV' and 'FrankerZ Emotes' which are popular on Twitch. They are outside programs, but they give extra capabilities on Twitch such as animated emotes in chat. You might have seen people say "ditto" in chat a lot. Well, what you aren't seeing is the little dancing pink emote that comes with saying ditto. This is a 'BTTV' emote, and if you have the program and have enabled the ability to see gif emotes, then you'll see all these fun dancing/flashy emotes in chat too. Sometimes these outside programs can cause your Twitch to bug out or break, like at times when Twitch is changing its interface. The reason for this is the outside program needs to update their own program to work with the new Twitch features, and this doesn't always happen right away. So if you find that you have things breaking, you can easily just disable BTTV temporarily in your browser.

Discord, Curse, TeamSpeak. These are outside programs that streamers use to basically give a place for them and their viewers to chat 'after hours' and share information. There is voice options to chat with each other too. Discord is the more popular of these programs and is pretty easy to use. Use this place to share your favorite clips, fan art, memes, and more.

Support
We all want to support our favorite streamers. Keep in mind that just your very presence in their stream is already plenty of support. Most streamers are perfectly satisfied with you just sitting, watching, and enjoying the content they provide. If you wish to support them further however, there are a few ways you can do this.

Look under their video. You should see some information they've provided, usually a blurb about who they are, and links to their social medias. This is usually where you can find all you need for support. Sometimes you can ask mods in the chat if there are special commands for additional chat information too.

Follow their social media! This actually really supports streamers, because you are increasing their viewage, and you might be showing your friends their content which expands possible viewers. Sharing when they go live, or if they are having special events, or even just your favorite clip moments can help that streamer more than you think. I highly encourage this, because its free to do, and only takes a brief moment of your time.

See if they have a tip system. Most streamers use PayPal to accept tips from viewers, but there are special twitch integrated programs now too that can easily let you give money to the streamer. Just keep in mind that nearly all programs will take a fee or percentage of that money. Some programs let you pay that fee yourself if you wish to, otherwise it will just take the fee from the money you are giving the streamer.

Bits. This is probably one of the most fun ways to support a streamer. This is a form of currency that you purchase from Amazon, connected to your Twitch account. You'll then have bits to "spend" in whatever channel you wish. A bit is worth one cent (.01) so 100 bits is $1. When you use bits in a channel, you'll get a special badge (for THAT channel only) which shows others you've supported the streamer. There are different level badges for different amounts. There are also mini games streamers can use to make the experience entertaining. Such as a bit cup... which you get to see the little bit image on stream fall into. The cup fills up, and then someone drops a higher amount bit (which has more weight) and knocks all the other bits out of the cup. Another program lets you "battle" against each other in chat. The "bit boss" is the person who beat the prior person. The more bits spent, the more hit points the bit boss loses until they're defeated and replaced with the person who got the final hit on the boss. Unlike tips by the way, a streamer gets 100% of the value of your bits, because when you bought the bits, you already paid the fee for them. You can also get bits for free by voluntarily watching special ads offered that pay bits. Its only a tiny amount, but if 100 viewers all gave 5 bits (1 ad) to their streamer, it adds up.

Twitch Subscriptions. If a streamer has become partnered with Twitch (signed a contract with them) then you get the chance to subscribe to that streamer. Its $4.99 a month (though as of writing this, a whole new subscription system has become available that I don't know much about just yet) and when subscribed you get perks like emotes only available to subs, being able to keep talking in a chat that is "sub only mode", and often times being allowed to enter sub only raffles or events. Streamers only get part of this (it used to be $2.50 but I think they might get around $3 now?) and the rest goes to Twitch. The fact we can have Twitch and our streamers I think is worth the fee to keep the site up and running though.

Twitch Prime. If you don't have the extra funds to subscribe, you can consider Twitch Prime. You get this by having an Amazon Prime account (there is a free trial for this btw) which you connect to your Twitch account. Then, you have 'Twitch Prime' after that. With Twitch Prime, you get ONE FREE SUB to give to someone. If you have the free trial, you'll get 1 month. If you continue with your Amazon Prime (which I highly encourage... its a great deal) you can continue to give your one free sub to a different streamer each month, or you can let one streamer have it every month. It acts exactly the same as a regular subscription, and pays the streamer the same too, while costing you nothing extra. The only catch, is that it doesn't auto-renew. Its important to know that. You'll need to manually re-subscribe to the streamer each month, but it'll still be free. So don't forget and sit on that Twitch Prime Sub without giving it to a streamer. You also get all kinds of other sweet deals with Twitch Prime too by the way... I highly recommend it.

Patreon/GameWisp. Similar to subscriptions, a LOT of streamers utilize Patreon (or GameWisp) to give their viewers a monthly payment option to support them. You can usually pay as little as $1 a month, or as much as you want (I've personally seen a $200 a month Patreon for someone.) Streamers who use this often give special perks to their Patreons, kind of like how Subs get emotes. Patreon is often a choice of non-partnered streamers and is the best way to support them regularly if that is what you want to do. Its also a popular choice of artists online and a great way to give love to those starving artists. Its a safe and secure program, like PayPal, so you don't have to worry about using it.

Other. Streamers will often experiment with new programs that can provide more content for their viewers. One of the popular ones right now is 'Loots'. You sign up for free on the site, providing your email. Then, you can send a Loot to the streamer with a custom message. This 'Loot' will then appear on the screen of the stream that the streamer can read. Its free for you, and it pays the streamer for each Loot. The catch is that it shares a small ad with your message (usually in the corner) and a link in chat to that ad's content. A very non-invasive ad sharing in my opinion, that takes only a minute of your time to pay your streamer without using any of your own money. There are other programs like this out there, so just watch chat or check around in the information under the stream to see what's available. Always use caution... most streamers are honest, but every once in a while one might try to scam you, so use common sense and read the atmosphere.

Chat, chat, CHAT! Yes, you heard me right. Being active in a streamer's chat actually boosts them up on many algorithms that help them get seen better in advertisements and searches. You don't have to chat like a mad man or spam... but just showing up and saying "hi" and maybe interacting with another person in chat a little bit can really help. That includes using emotes. There are sites that show which emotes are used the most, and if a channel has one of theirs high up in that list, more viewers might go check their channel out. Mind you, lurking is also very supportive... you never HAVE to chat in a stream. You are a view, a view supports the stream. But if you have the itch to give them just a little more support... get chatty.

Follow Your Favorites! This should be obvious, but if you like the streamer you are watching, don't forget to follow them. By doing this, you'll get alerted to when they go live, and you can see them in your Twitch 'Favorites' page when they're on. Some streams require you to have followed to even chat there (to prevent troll spam) so it doesn't hurt if you plan to watch them again in the future. If you change your mind, you can always unfollow later. :)

So there you have it. There are even more ways to be a good viewer and support streamers, but I've given you enough information here to already be more than a star viewer. So be off, and enjoy yourself. Twitch is an amazing site, with great opportunities for people who stream. Lets make sure we boost up the support so that it continues to thrive and live long, giving us amazing content and entertainment. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Autobiographical: Being Accountable

Hey everyone. I'm taking some time now to write this post (which is a bit slower due to my burnt fingers) to touch on a new decision I've made in my life and why I'm doing it. I hope as usual, you might walk away from reading this with your own drive and ideas too.

So, I decided that I am dedicating Tuesdays from now on to my writing. Not just blogs, but my books as well. I find that I am so distracted now between medical issues, stress, and procrastination which leads to playing games or watching streams. So if I can hold myself accountable to write on Tuesdays BEFORE doing anything else (except perhaps drink some coffee) then I not only will have less distractions, but more responsibility to myself. I also reward myself after by getting to watch my streams or play my games.

Finding the energy and inspiration to write doesn't always come easy. When I try to write, I really not only need to be fully focused (interruptions will completely derail my train of thought) but also have some inspiration. The inspiration part is harder, because I can't just 'turn it on'. I have found certain things and times that do seem to be more favorable to me though. Writers block is a serious frustration for writers. It can come out of nowhere, and last for indeterminable amounts of time. If you don't know ways to try to remedy it, you can become frustrated, stressed, or even downright depressed. Writing is a passion, a job, and a talent. To be unable to do it for reasons you can't control makes you want to rip your hair out.

So yes, with the help of friends and their encouragement and ideas, I decided to finally devote one fully day to write. That doesn't mean I have to wrote a full blog, or an entire chapter of my book. Even if I only write a single paragraph of something, it will at least keep me in the habit, remind me if what needs to be done, and exercise my brain. Staying in a good habit takes time and effort, and if I can do it, then I think I can knock out blogs a lot more regularly, and get my books written before I start turning grey.

Thank you to those of you who have taken the time to read my blogs, because that helps encourage me with knowing people are actually interested in what I'm sharing and that it isn't a waste. In fact, one of my friends who goes by Bane encouraged me to write this very blog. I asked people for some ideas, and she said: "why don't you write about why you're dedicating writing to Tuesdays?" Genius. She had some streams on Twitch which focused on bettering ourselves with more positive outlooks, and healthy habits. One of the reasons I started to write my blogs again was because of her steering me in the right direction.

Now you know the reasoning I'll be holding myself accountable by dedicating one day a week to writing at -least- a paragraph. Though I suspect it will inspire me to do quite a bit more, but only time will tell on that.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Autobiographical: Quick health update!

Hey guys, just a real quick blog post to say sorry for the lack of posts this month and why. The doctor had to burn on my fingers for medical reasons, and it prevented me from doing much of anything, especially typing! I also had some other medical procedures this month that had me sleeping more than usual. I have a few more tests/procedures coming up, but I'm sure I'll be able to get a few blogs done in that time. So expect some more from me soon! Feel free to contact me with ideas or suggestions of what you'd like to see me blog about if interested. Thanks for continuing to support my writing. Have a good Easter folks!