Twitching With Joy: My Reaction to the Twitch Affiliate Program

As I write this, my washing machine is rumbling away, the dishwasher is buzzing right along side it, and I’ve just finished cleaning and reorganizing all the wires in my office. Oh! And I’m also eating lunch.

If you can’t tell, Twitch’s announcement yesterday has got me in a bit of a mode.

For those of you who may not have heard, or aren’t familiar with Twitch, here’s the deal: Twitch.tv, the online broadcasting platform that allows gamers to stream their gameplay and interact with viewers live on the internet, has unveiled a new initiative with the express purpose of better supporting small and emerging streamers.

Streamers like myself.

I struggle to overstate how big a deal this is for me. For better or worse, I’ve committed to “TheGamingAuthor” brand I’ve started building over the last two months. I love both writing and gaming with a passion that defies description, and it’s been my dream for more than a decade at this point to make a living from at least one of them.

And Twitch just made that far easier to do.

Now, that’s not to say that it will actually be easy in practice. Far from it. But prior to the announcement of the Twitch Affiliate Program, the only path one had to make a real income from Twitch was to be accepted into the Twitch Partner Program. This program provides the streamers in it with a bevy of tools to help them monetize their channels, but also requires that prospective Partners have “[a]n established and steadily growing audience and chat.” For perspective’s sake, I follow several streamers who already have audiences that number in the thousands and still aren’t partnered.

Which is not, by the way, a shot at Twitch. The requirements for Partnership make perfect sense from a business perspective, and Twitch is a business at the end of the day. However, the result of this division between Partners and non-Partners has meant that there are hundreds of thousands of streamers out there who work just as hard as Partners do at maintaining and improving their channel, but don’t reap any of the same financial benefits.

The Twitch Affiliate Program changes that.

Which gets to why I’ve been in such a mode for the last four hours.

I am not one of those streamers who already has thousands of followers, nor am I one of those streamers who streams every day. For me, the “finish line” of Partnership was so laughably far away from where I currently am that I’ve largely been taking my time with Twitch. Experimenting with different styles, setups, and games to in an effort to really find my groove as a streamer before going all-in with it. And then right as I feel like I’ve finally found that groove, Twitch announces this Affiliate Program, and reveals that the qualifications to become an Affiliate are such that I am right on the cusp of it!

If there was ever a surer sign that it’s time for me to go all-in, I cannot imagine what it could be. 🙂

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Controllers: Variety is the Spice of Life

So here’s the thing; confident though I am on camera, behind the chroma key and gameplay, I’m still trying to figure this Twitch thing out. 😛

Here’s the other thing; I’ve read all the write-ups on how to succeed on Twitch. I’ve read all the write-ups, heard all the advice, and yet here I am, sitting at my computer with a shrug and going “Eh, fuck it.”

Because here’s the final thing; I can’t be anyone, or anything, other than myself. I can and do strive to be a better version of myself, but once you actually know who and what you are, there’s only so much wiggle room within that.

“How does this all relate to Twitch?” you ask. Simple.

I’m not a single-game streamer.

I actually came to this conclusion at the end of my stream yesterday, after streaming Destiny for two days in a row on top of an extended absence from Twitch in general. Because as much as I love Destiny and want to keep streaming it, I’d started to miss Mass Effect, and I also realized that I didn’t want my Destiny streaming to stop me from streaming the Middle-earth: Shadow of War/Mordor games a little further down the track like I’d planned to. I realized that as much as I wanted to be a Destiny streamer, I don’t want to be a Destiny-only streamer. So while all the articles and write-ups might say that being a single-game streamer is the easiest way to cultivate a following on Twitch, in the words of Arya Stark from Season 1 of Game of Thrones, “No, that’s not me.”

At the end of the day, there are simply too many other games that I love or am excited about for me to be anything other than the variety streamer I truly am at heart. 🙂 So, if you’re following me on Twitch, prepare for a return to the Andromeda galaxy next Monday as we load up Mass Effect: Andromeda once more and resume our adventures as Pathfinder. We’ll swing back by the Sol system with our Guardians on Tuesday (since that’s Destiny’s weekly reset day), and if this trip goes well, we might just have to make it our weekly routine. 😉

So yeah, that’s all I’ve got for you guys this morning. If you’ll be so kind as to excuse me now, I’ve got to go make a mad dash out of my home to make sure I still get to work on time. See ya Monday! 😀

Controllers: My Triumphant Return to Destiny

You know, it’s kinda funny. I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for nearly a week. Yet now that I’ve actually found the time to put fingers to keyboard, I don’t know what to write. 😛

So, failing a subtle introduction, let’s just dive right in!

I doubt it will be a revelation for many of you, but the first game I ever streamed on Twitch was Destiny. Pretty much everything about Twitch for me can trace it’s origin back to this game in some form or another.  It was how I even discovered Twitch in the first place! And it was the community on Twitch that has sprung up around Destiny that inspired me to start streaming the game myself.

However, if you’ve been following me for any length of time on Twitch, you’ll know I didn’t stick with Destiny for very long. And the reason for that is very simple: I’d caught myself trying to be something/someone I’m not. At the time, my only frame of reference for being a streamer were the rock stars like KingGothalion and ProfessorBroman, so I thought the only way to be entertaining on Twitch and amass any kind of audience was to be like them.

Turns out, trying to constantly be someone you’re not is an exhausting undertaking; one that will suck out all the joy and love you once had for something.

The end of this chapter will not surprise you; I stopped streaming Destiny. I realized that if I were ever going to make anything of myself on Twitch, I first had to figure out who I even was as a streamer. Where did my energy level naturally land? How well could I actually balance interacting with chat and playing the game? How much did I want to interact with chat on a moment-to-moment basis? There were a lot of questions that I needed to find answers to, and the only way I could find those answers was by playing other games.

So I started small, and simple. I took a game off my shelf that I’d never played through to completion and decided to start streaming it. That would give me the excuse I needed to finish the game itself, and give me a chance to find my footing as a streamer without the pressure of expectation bearing down on my shoulders. That game was Alien: Isolation, and streaming it proved to be a wonderful experience. I was able to just relax, breathe, be myself, and most importantly of all, actually enjoy the game I was playing.

And to my immense surprise, people actually started watching!

To be clear, it wasn’t like there was no one watching me play Destiny, but in a very real sense, that wasn’t me playing Destiny. That was me acting like I was playing Destiny. With Alien: Isolation, that was pure, 100% me playing the game, and more people were tuning in for that than they ever had with Destiny. That was the moment when I discovered that I really did want to be a Twitch streamer, independent of whatever game I was streaming, and that discovery is what prompted me to take the next big step.

Streaming from a PC.

Up to this point, I’d been streaming straight off my Xbox One. While it was entirely functional, I wasn’t able to have all the same bells and whistles that attract me as a viewer on Twitch. That meant no overlays, no alerts, no nothing. Those were things I could only get by streaming from a PC. So I saved up some money, did my research, and eventually rebuilt my computer almost from top-to-bottom in order to transform it into a dedicated gaming/streaming machine. After that, the only question left was “What game do I stream now?”

The answer, as many of you know, proved to be Mass Effect.

With Mass Effect: Andromeda then on the horizon, and the franchise in general being one of my all-time favorites in the gaming world, streaming the first three games felt like an absolute no-brainer. And in practice, streaming the original Mass Effect trilogy proved to be an overwhelmingly” positive experience. One that resulted in this blog post. However, moving on to Mass Effect: Andromeda as my stream game of choice has revealed a problem for me that I hadn’t anticipated.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is not a social game. Not for me.

I was able to make the original trilogy a social game because I was already so familiar with it. I already knew everything there was to know about the characters and the story, I already knew how I was going to play said story, and so that made it both easy and fun to share my gameplay with all of you. With Mass Effect: Andromeda, I don’t have the luxury of pre-existing knowledge, and that’s made it difficult for me to stream it with the same energy and enthusiasm that I felt I was able to bring to my streams of the original trilogy.

Now, by itself, this is not an insurmountable issue, and a potential solution has already presented itself to me. However, this issue is not by itself. As of March 28th, it’s been joined by it’s bigger, badder, and older brother: Destiny. 

Prior to Bungie’s release of the Age of Triumph update, I hadn’t played Destiny at all in ages. Not since the first month or so of the Rise of Iron DLC. But when I learned all of what Bungie was doing with Age of Triumph, I knew I had to at least give it a shot.

I was not prepared for what happened next.

I fell hard for Destiny; head-over-heels back in love with a game that I’ve been playing since the open beta. In just over an hour, I was reminded of all the reasons I had grown to love the game so fiercely, and why I’ve kept coming back to it over and over again no matter how many times I drifted away. And thanks to joining in on a viewer raid with Angry_Iceberg, I was reminded of why I wanted to start streaming the game in the first place.

The community.

The Destiny community on Twitch is second to none. Truly. When I stop to think about how many amazing people I’ve connected with through it, I legitimately get a little choked up. To say nothing of the truly mind-boggling charity work the community has done! Raising more than half a million dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? Mind blowing. This community is the reason I’ve been saving every penny I can spare to go to Florida for GuardianCon at the end of June. This community is the reason I ever even thought about becoming a Twitch streamer, and this community is why I’m writing this blog post.

Because I’m going back to Destiny.

People always say that home is where the heart is, and for me on Twitch, that’s the Destiny directory. I love Mass Effect to Andromeda and beyond, but at the end of the day, there’s just no getting around the fact that Destiny is my home. And after so much time on such a lovely vacation, I’m ready to go back home.

So, this is me, announcing my return to the world of Destiny streaming in WAY more than 140 characters. I don’t know exactly when this return will take place, as it will require a significant change/addition to my current streaming setup, but it will take place. And for those of you fearing for the future of this author’s adventures in Andromeda, fear not. I will be doing a complete playthrough of Mass Effect: Andromeda on stream, but that will likely take place after I go through the campaign once myself for the full-immersion, role-playing experience that makes the Mass Effect franchise so much fun for me.

I know this is a pretty big shake-up for my Twitch channel, but I hope you all will bear with me as we go through it. Streaming Destiny was always my end-goal on Twitch; I just always thought I wouldn’t reach that goal until Destiny 2 came out. 😛

Speaking of which, have you guys seen that reveal trailer?! 😀