Gaming Livestreams: What’s hot now?

Posted on April 26, 2017

Hi Game Truckers!

Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘livestreaming’ and/or Twitch TV – in this blog post I will explain what these things are, and spotlight a couple of examples of what’s attracting a lot of attention.

Streaming media is not a new concept. Facebook live, video on demand, television, even radio – all forms of streaming media. One of the newer concepts (especially when compared with radio!) is the live streaming of video games, and leading the way on this is Twitch TV – an app that functions as a platform for creators to present their wares and viewers to choose the content they want to view. Twitch is essentially a platform for all content related to gaming: live streams, talk shows, and competitions.

Twitch has a surprising array of options. If you didn’t know much, or anything, about this before, be prepared to be blown away with the scale of what’s going on. Many games, some released over a decade ago, are being livestreamed from many different sources all the time. You can sign in and watch streams for free, and if there is a particular content creator whose work you enjoy, you can follow them for free, or donate a small amount or subscribe on a monthly basis. These payments are voluntary, and not required to view the content, however making donations makes it possible for the content creators to dedicate more time to make more content – there are some people making a good living doing this, even in Adelaide.

Some creators are funny, some are elite solo gamers (who typically don’t speak much), some leverage a group of friends that play well together, some have such a firm grasp of the tech that they impress with what they present, others use gimmicks to draw a crowd, and still others are uber professional faces of the e-sports leagues. However they do it, it’s in their interest to create a community around themselves, so they’re usually pretty friendly.

Keeping in mind our audience, Twitch is a bit like the digital wild west – there are no age ratings or gates on any content, apart from the fact games rated ‘Adults Only’ in the USA cannot be streamed. If you’re considering watching Twitch with your children, keep that in mind – personally, I limit the games that they’re allowed to watch to known PG or G games, and even then you need to watch the stream for a while with them, to make sure the content presenter doesn’t make a habit of introducing adult content verbally. I would strongly recommend supervision for kids like my own under-10 children.

One of the only exceptions would be the professional e-sport channels in relation to Rocket League – but even then I would close the chat window on the side, and sit with them and watch it for a while. As a parent, you are the only filter – but also keep in mind most streamers are trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible to maximise their donations and subscribers. Rocket League’s e-sport channel apes the media offerings relating to the NFL and the NBA – impressive studio sets, commentary of matches, professional leagues for real stakes – in a game that really lends itself to the format. It’s a great example of what livestreaming can be.

For adults, one recommendation would be PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is a game version of the Hunger Games or Battle Royale. The game takes place in a 8km x 8km map, and after five minutes the players are herded into a randomly placed circle within the map, and every five minutes after that the remaining players are herded into a smaller, randomly placed circle within the previous circle, forcing confrontations and limiting ‘camping’ (hiding). This has a great pacing: a well-struck balance between preparation and action, and as the tension builds it makes compelling viewing. The fact that each endgame takes place in a different place in this varied and enormous map makes for variety in viewing that most shooters can’t boast. One feed I particularly enjoy is JackFrags – a British gamer who is a skilled player (and, maybe more importantly, an excellent communicator) who plays mainly the squad-based version of the game with three good friends.

Highly recommended! I’m willing to bet you’ve been downloading the app while reading this!

See you in the truck!

Tom Bratchford

Game Coach

 


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