you’ve probably figured out by now, between my social media posts about Destiny and my recent
for Dummies, I play video games.
And I have a Twitch channel. When Destiny 2
went live on September 6, 2017, I set out not only to make myself a better
Guardian (what you are known as in the game), but set a schedule for myself to
see if streaming was for me. I spent my first few gaming sessions using an
earbud-mic included with my PS4. I picked up a modest $30 gaming headset
shortly after. Then my
enabler good buddy, Matt Drake, offered me a
PSEye, the console’s proprietary webcam. Thus began the evolution of my stream.
This is something I’ve noticed about being a streamer. Your channel, regardless of the platform, experiences pockets of evolution. My first was the incorporation of a good headset. Then you upgrade your ability to interact with Chat. (For me, it was Streamlabs.) Then it’s your first break from streaming, which for me, drove home how much I enjoyed it. There are also unexpected challenges you face along the way, all of them leaving a mark on your channel.
Then there’s October 3, 2019 — a date which will live in awesomeness.
Thursday nights are my nights with Steve “The Blind Gamer” Saylor. We do this thing called The Blind Leads the Blind where I (and my terrible, potato aim) sherpa Steve (legally blind) through Destiny. On October 1, we celebrated the anniversary of our weekly get-together by announcing a month-long charity stream for Able Gamers, a group that works with developers and disabled gamers to make gaming possible for everyone. Mouth controllers. Eye trackers. Modified accessories. It’s a cause Steve has a vested interest in, so I was behind it 100%. We set a goal for $500 and kicked off our fundraiser with shenanigans a-plenty.
This particular Thursday, Steve was away at [REDACTED] working with accessibility improvements in the upcoming video game [REDACTED], so I took on Destiny’s latest DLC Shadowkeep solo, was eventually joined by some familiar Guardians, and pushed on through the night…until my Chat window exploded. Alerts were going off. Whispers (Twitch’s private messages) were coming in from people I didn’t recognize. It was both beautiful and terrifying.
It was also suspicious as “Bot Raiding” — where some of the Internet’s finest shitheels come together — serves as a past-time to completely mess with a streamer. Both on my PSN chat and in my Whispers, I was being advised my channel was the punch line to this trolly joke. My first thought was to shut the works down for the night. I couldn’t get anything done as alerts were busy catching up with everyone following me. But even with skeptics telling me “Sorry to see this bot raid happen to you…” I couldn’t believe this was a massive hacker attack as I was getting donations on the Tiltify page…and people were subscribing to the channel. Both are verified processes and cost money, so…dafuq?
What I didn’t know was a YouTube streamer, Markiplier, was raiding my channel as part of a “Reverse Charity” where he would lead his community to smash goals for streamers raising money and awareness for a cause. He had been doing this all night and, apparently, the last stop was my channel. Our modest start to $500 was now well into the thousands, and before I could get in a “thank you” Mark — once discovered — disappeared. He disappeared, leaving me with thousands of followers, double the amount of subscribers, over $5000 raised for Able Gamers, and over 2000 people watching me in real time.
You would think that would be enough for a week, but only two days later, a streamer from the Destiny community and World’s First from the “Scourge of the Past” raid, Gigz, brought his community over to my channel. Over 2500 viewers settled in for the morning while my Followers and Subscribers ticked upward. At the end of my stream, I dropped my pal Aura a raid of nearly 400 viewers, the biggest raid I’ve ever given another streamer. (If anyone earned it from me, he has. He was my Tech Editor on Twitch for Dummies.)
My head was spinning as I was sporting statistics and analytics reserved for those in the upper-tiers of Twitch. I wanted to keep the momentum going but I was entering the work week; and with my current schedule, I knew it was time to go dark until Thursday.
Thus began a new game I was playing on Twitch. I knew this game and wanted nothing to do with it, but following my first TwitchCon experience, this game was directly related to what I wanted to achieve as a streamer. It’s a game everyone plays on the platform, consciously or not. Some streamers struggle with it while others give it a nod and then get to gaming. It’s a game played on Twitch, on Twitter, and every social media platform online. And, for me, I’ve always hated it despite it being played by so many. The problem is I have to play it.
Welcome to Twitch’s biggest, most-played game: The Numbers Game.
The worst thing about The Numbers Game is there are highs and there are lows. You know this. Everybody knows this. And yet, the numbers can really mess with your head. When they are high, like they are with me at present, you might as well be made of steel because you feel unstoppable. It could be the shittiest of days at work and you don’t care because you have more subscribers than you know what to do with. You’re a legend. A rockstar. You are going to be the next big thing because you — yes, you — are running with the big dogs now! When they begin to drop, everything comes into question. Why am I losing subs? What’s wrong with my content? No, it’s not me. It’s them, the fickle viewers! They want something from me that I can’t deliver…but why did they sub to me in the first place? Was it a pity sub? Was I never that good? OH GOD, I SUCK AT THIS!!!
Statistics, in relation to streaming, need to be tracked if you want to grow; and in the case of Twitch, the numbers are all part of your advancement. Partnership is not a necessity as you can stream happily as an Affiliate. Partnership, though, does have its privileges. There are perks, ranging from a bigger cut of subscriber revenue to special events (and opportunities) reserved only for Partners at TwitchCon. Some Affiliates I met at the San Diego event were quick to dismiss the distinction; but in talking about how “easy” it is to achieve Partnership, it was impossible to miss the bitter undertone in their words. So while maybe it wasn’t “that big of a deal” to be a Partner, maybe it was. To get there, you have to grow. To grow, you have to look at your numbers and try to find what it is that brings people back to your channel. Attaining Partnership is a commitment. It’s a goal. It’s a destination in this wild adventure I undertook two years ago. I’ve had accomplishments. I’ve had setbacks. And I’m still learning.
At the end of TwitchCon, I made a promise to myself: Partnership within five years of streaming. This means playing The Numbers Game.
Now before you think “Tee’s stream is going to be all about the numbers from this point…” that’s not going to happen. Not by a longshot. Sure, I’ll talk about numbers and what I can do to be a better streamer (and for some of my viewers, this topic has been a tired one long before Markiplier’s raid); but in the end, this is still my stream. So if people tell me, “You want the numbers? You need to play Hearthstone or League of Legends.” I have friends who play those games. And they play PUBG. And they play Rocket League. And those games work for them. Me? I’m a Destiny guy. A Warlock main, through and through. But on Fridays? Yeah, I want to play something different. I started with the remastered edition of 2013’s Tomb Raider. And when done with that, I jumped into the original BioShock. Yeah, I did get the snarky viewer ask me “So, it’s 2013 again?” I also got many more “Oh, I love Lara Croft!!!” and “Man, BioShock is awesome!” in my Chat. I play what I want to play because if I’m not having fun, then what is the point of me playing at all? If there is something I think any streaming audience could see through, it’s people playing a game simply for the analytics. I’m going to enjoy my gaming experience because that is why people are going to watch my channel. Not because I am all about the incredible clutch plays (although sometimes that does happen) but because I’m kicking back and having a bit of fun. My hope is that people will want to hang out and join in on that fun, be it actually running missions from planet to planet or just watching me jump out of my skin when Rapture gets particularly creepy. I will never lose that. It’s what my stream was built on.
So I got a taste of being that Twitch rockstar. And I dug it. Hard. However, I’m bracing for impact when a good amount of those Twitch Prime subs come to an end on November 4. That doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up the push for Partnership. I’m going for it, but make no mistake — I’m going to make sure whatever happens on that road ahead of me, is going have some good times along the way.