Is a lack of variety really a “problem” in the streaming world?

As a variety streamer, there is something I see a lot which is really starting to, for want of a better phrase, grind my gears, and that is people suggesting that “We need more variety on streaming platforms”.

Excuse me first of all for pointing at myself, but joking aside I am actually going somewhere with this, so please bear with me.

Now just to make sure that I am absolutely clear and to make sure context is maintained, I am a variety streamer on Mixer. This is really important to the context of everything I am about to say, so just keep that in mind as you read what will end up being a round in circles rant, because this whole “problem” is a huge circle of issues.

First of all, the most important thing to note here, is that regardless of the streaming platform, variety does exist! I am proof of that, but I am just one person. But there are others, so many others, struggling to find their audience but hopefully having a lot of fun whilst they’re at it.

Despite this I keep seeing on twitter almost every day “We need more variety!” thank you for that. It’s nice to see variety talked about on social platforms. It makes variety a talking point and that is all to the good. You voicing your support for variety can only be a good thing. But how far does that support go? And keep up with me here because as I say, variety does exist. A lot of it. Lack of variety isn’t the issue.

The issue is that, despite the voicing of support constantly, variety actually gets very little support on the platforms. As I look on Mixer as I write this, I can find 6 streamers playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (3 of which with 0 viewers), 52 streamers playing Skyrim (32 with 0 viewers, 15 with 1 viewer), 33 people playing The Sims 4 (14 with 0 viewers)… The list goes on but I’d be here all day. These are just a few examples I picked out of the herd.

It’s not that people aren’t playing a variety of games, it’s that people don’t want to watch a variety of games. People don’t want to support people playing a variety of games. I am generalising for sure as I have a solid community on Mixer that I have built on variety, but I am in a minority there. People like to complain that games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have taken over the streaming sites, without accepting that these games are simply the games that the majority of people want to watch.

The problem isn’t with the lack of variety content, the problem is in the genuine demand for variety content. But how much of a problem is it actually and what, realistically, can anyone do to change that?

The fact of the matter is, it’s not really a problem. If you are a good streamer (and let’s nip this controversial thing in the bud, not everyone is a good streamer) then you will know how to network. You’ll know how to entertain, or teach, or approach an audience, and you will grow somewhat from your own talent. This also ties into other things I’ve said in the past regarding being a streamer vs being someone who streams. It’s okay to stream and not identify as a streamer. It’s okay to stream to 0 people and not care. But if you do care, then getting good at being a streamer will help you find like-minded people.

The REAL problem, tying back to where I started all this, is people screaming how we need more variety, when in actual fact, they just aren’t looking for it. Streaming sites always list games by viewership, not by how many people are streaming them. It stands to reason that the popular games 99% of people want to see will be topping the list. It’s supply and demand. People will watch what they want, simple as that. Screaming that there isn’t enough variety is just a flat out lie, but by the same token, us variety streamers can’t just sit here and demand people watch our content if it’s not what people want to watch.

Similarly, people who complain about so many streamers playing the trending games are somewhat just as problematic. There are a good few streamers who stream for a living. It puts food on the table and it pays the rent. It makes sense that using the trends to help do just that is a thing. Hell, if I relied on my Mixer partnership to eat and have a roof over my head, I expect I would probably do the same. I am lucky enough to not have to do that because I have a steady job outside of streaming. My partnership helps me buy new games, increasing my variety and get upgrades and suchlike. People streaming trending games for a living isn’t a problem. Not enough variety isn’t a problem. People publicly claiming that there isn’t enough variety simply haven’t tried to support it properly, otherwise they would know its there. That is the “problem”, If you can call it that. I told you this would come full circle.

I say “problem” because it’s not really a problem. People like to claim it is, but it’s not. People will stream what content they want to stream. People will watch what content they want to watch. Where’s the problem?

Again, please remember I am generalising with this for sure. There are exceptions to this. There are people who say these things but do support variety streamers, but perhaps they just need to expand their horizons and see how many variety folks there are out there. Hell, even some of the trending game streamers will come out and find variety streamers because THEY need something different, but again, where is the problem? Was it ever a problem in the first place? Maybe we should stop calling out a variety problem and start celebrating our variety brethren. If you really believe it’s a problem, then go support some variety streamers, or be the change you want to see and stream some variety yourself! Be part of the solution to the problem you see.

Very Brief EGX Recap and my Game of the Year Candidate

So the last time I posted here I mentioned that I would be taking notes at EGX and writing a lot about my trip. I didn’t do any of those things. EGX was okay. Xbox didn’t show up at all, which was very disappointing. I had an argument with a security guard who couldn’t read entry passes on the Saturday, which upset me. I got to play Kingdom Hearts 3 though, so I got that going for me!

I also got to meet quite a few other Mixer folks while I was there. That was also nice, although I was, predictably, a bit timid about that whole experience. Maybe if we all meet up again another time I will be less timid.

As for the last few days though, I have been hammering Forza Horizon 4. It’s been a long time since a game has made me as happy as it has. It’s incredible. Almost perfect.Online is a little bit ropey. It likes to break up convoys between races which is annoying and not allocate servers to races, but when it does work, it is sublime!

One of my favourite additions has to be Forzathon Live. Instead of a few gamerscoreless achievements every week, you gain points from events that trigger every hour that you do with others in your shared world. You can then spend those points on cars or cosmetic items, or on wheelspins. There are also weekly and daily tasks that give you points on top of that. VIP players also get double points for free with a house you can buy. Non-VIP players can get this house for five million credits.

If I could imrpove anything that is just how the game is though, its clubs. Clubs are now handled through Xbox Live clubs, rather than being an ingame feature. As a result there is far less tracking for clubs as was found in Forza Horizon 3 and I miss the in-club rivalries to reach the top of the club board.

Anyway, that’s me for a while. WWE 2K19 comes out tomorrow for Deluxe Edition buyers, and I am working. But I shall be streaming that over the weekend and probably alternating between that and Forza for quite a while.

See you later!

Streaming Life, Burn Out and EGX!

Firstly, again. I am sorry I haven’t updated this more. I have failed horribly at getting stuff put out on here and I feel bad about it. I have a terrible memory and every time I think of something I want to talk about, I fail to remember this place is even here. I need to get better at doing things and getting into habits.

That said, streaming life update! I took a week off a few weeks back to recharge the old batteries. There’s been some dramas and some madness and some burnout (and even a touch of anger) that I had to deal with regarding streaming. But I got it out of my system. but burnout is something that is becoming a big issue lately.

So streaming, as a partner, is more than just going live and doing the stream. There’s a lot I won’t get into on here but just know that its not all about going live and performing. There is a lot goes on in the background. A lot of it becomes quite stressful on occasion.

Or rather it does if you let it, and I let it, hence taking the break.

There is something I want to say to all streamers that are feeling the burn. We all have those times when we wonder if it is worth continuing on with what you are doing. I see streamers quitting regularly or at the very least taking long breaks due to stress. So here it is…

On those days when you aren’t sure if you want to carry on, take that break. Take some time for yourself. Ask yourself an important question. “Why did I start streaming in the first place?” Compare the answer to that to what your current goals and stresses are. Likelihood is, somewhere along the line you lost your way because you forgot why you started in the first place.

I started streaming to make friends, simply enough. I had very few friends to play games with and I wanted more, so I started streaming. Somewhere along the line I got stressed about growth and after getting partner somewhere I got stressed about getting subs and “selling” subs to more people. I am proud to be a partner but my intial aim was never to make money, I just wanted to meet people and play video games with them. Remembering this has pulled me out of one of the biggest slumps I have had since I started streaming and lately, my streams (I have felt, at least) have been better than ever, because I remembered why I started in the first place. And I have made a ton of friends, and I love streaming and hanging out with my friends. I am happy with where I have come.

So when you feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place.

That all aside, it is EGX 2018 this week! I will be there all 4 days and hope to meet a whole ton of my peers and community there, as I know many of you are going. I can’t wait, but will admit I am a bit nervous. There are so many top quality people I respect and admire going, and I am a timid little sausage. I hope to post about my trip to EGX on here so I will be taking notes while I am there!

Anyway, until next time, have a great day!

The Crew 2 Open Beta… Why I Won’t be Buying the Game

Simple really. The check point system. The system that tells you where to go when you are in a race. It’s garbage.

I am a fairly big fan of Forza Horizon 3 and I am hyped as all hell for Forza Horizon 4. Like super hyped. The Crew 2 has an open beta, live right now as I type this (it finishes on Monday 25th June afaik) and people all around have told me I’ll love it if I love Forza Horizon 3. So naturally I have tried it out.

Now I started out this post literally with the one key reason I don’t like The Crew 2. Now, it works with the same checkpoint system used in Forza Horizon 3 or GTA Online’s racing. You race in a real world environment, not necessarily a racetrack, and the game provides checkpoints to mark out the route.

Now GTA Online (official courses, let’s be clear here) and FH3 do this in a good way. The checkpoints are very clearly marked and they exist on every corner of a track. The minimap also points out the whole course so you can see exactly what you’re up against and see exactly where you need to go.

The Crew 2 doesn’t do either of these things. Checkpoints are more spaced out, perhaps to facilitate looking for shortcuts. But sometimes your next checkpoint is around a series of bends. Seriously, all these bends need a checkpoint to make the course more visible. The first proper race I had I drove through a checkpoint and the next one just wasn’t visible. IT WAS BEHIND ME! I had to go round a 180° bend which was not marked out.

Oh aye, it was on the minimap, but only after I had cleared the previous checkpoint, so I didn’t even have time to slow down for the bend, crashing out with no style at all. So, the minimap only takes you to your next checkpoint. WHY THE HELL DOESN’T THE MINIMAP MAP THE WHOLE COURSE! It’s completely senseless! Want me to win a race? TELL ME WHERE THE COURSE GOES!

Why do I seem so angry? It’s just an open beta Slink! You didn’t pay anything for it Slink!. I am mad because it’s one of those games I want to like. I really really want something to tide me over until Forza Horizon 4 comes out. But The Crew 2 does so much, goes out of its way even, to make me dislike it. It is riddled with design flaws, not in it’s tracks, but in the way they are presented. Not to mention the collision mechanics are stiff as a board. Make a slight mistake and clip a fence? Prepare to lose all your momentum.

So The Crew 2. I am sorry. I want to like you, but you don’t want me to like you, and that is a shame. You have so much potential and all you need is some QoL tweaks. Also you made me say GTA Online does something better than you, and that makes me very sad…

Please?

Why the Word “Grind” Needs to Disappear

For context’s sake, I made a comment on someone’s tweet last night regarding this topic and the use of the word grind which apparently escalated into something unintended. I blame myself for this. In a tweet especially, but for me just in general, I sometimes articulate myself poorly and people misunderstand the things I say and for that I am sorry. I have massive respect for content creators that work really damned hard to get where they are and they deserve all the respect in the world for building what they have. But the word “Grind” needs to disappear.

Grinding is what my Mother had to do bringing me up on her own, whilst caring for her Mother with next to no money. It wasn’t fun, it was disheartening and some days felt like there was no way forward. Now before anyone asks, no, I am not looking for sympathy. Both me and my Mother are in pretty good places these days compared to back then. We got through it. I am just making a point.

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of “Grind” in this context is “a difficult or boring activity that needs a lot of effort”, which to me doesn’t sound like what content creation should be, or indeed is. Grind is such a poor choice of words, especially when trying to encourage up and coming creators who want to see growth. It certainly shouldn’t be boring, I mean hell, if you’re a content creator and you’re bored, with all due respect, your talents and passion probably belong elsewhere. I’d wager for the idea that anyone who finds it boring probably isn’t doing it.

Now a lot of this follows on from some of the things I said in my previous post regarding attitudes, but bear with me. I feel like the word “Grind” has replaced the term “Hard Work”, and in its simplest terms, this is my issue with it. Hard work, sure, is hard, it’s in the term. But work can be and should be rewarding. People work hard because they want to, they are passionate and not bored. People grind because they have to. That’s why a lot of us work jobs we don’t like. It’s a responsibility that we could otherwise do without. Some people work a job they love. It’s still a responsibility, but it’s not a grind if you have passion.

I’d really like to see a change in the world of content creation that abandons the word grind. Content creators get a lot of hate from others who claim that they got there because the platform allowed it to happen or because they got promotion others did not. But the truth is, anyone who is successful, got where they are got there due to hard work and dedication. Positive things that helped them move forward. When we try to encourage fledgling creators, let’s encourage them to work hard. Let’s encourage them to have passion and to stay positive. Let’s encourage them to learn the other things that revolve around content creation like networking and suchlike. Let’s encourage them to not be disheartened by slow growth. Let’s encourage them that every bit of growth was because they worked hard for it. Let’s encourage them to feel rewarded for the hard work they put in.

Let’s not encourage grind. It’s an unhealthy word that doesn’t replace hard work and passion.

Two Types of Streamers and Attitudes to and from Them (In My Experience)

At the time of writing this, I just got finished chatting to Shell (my partner) about streaming and the idea of full-time streaming, and as I was talking about it I explained a very simplistic idea, which I would say 90% of the time applies.

There are two types of streamer that I tend to see. Community Streamers and Branded Streamers.

There are some examples of crossovers here but these are two very distinct things I have found. Community streamers (which I identify as) tend to be smaller streamers. They tend to be variety streamers and they tend to have a very tight group of regulars and slow growth. Some, like me, tend to have shaky schedules week on week due to other commitments in life and tend to be part-time.

Branded streamers tend to stick to a strict schedule and tend to stick to one or two games. They have a community based around the game they play that grows quickly, because the community that builds knows exactly what they are getting. The streamer conforms to a brand standard that people can always come back to. A lot of these streamers tend to be more full-time.

Now, something that has, for a while, bothered me is that there are some streamers from both sides of this fence that like to throw negativity over the other side of the fence, and as someone who identifies as a community streamer, I see a lot more of this from the smaller, community based streamers than the other way. It’s a minority, to be sure. Most streamers I know are damned fine people. There are a few that are very self-centred and bitter.

I have always been someone who has conformed to the idea of “Let people do”. I like the idea of letting people do what they want to do. Anything is fine as long as you’re not recklessly harming yourself or others around you, which is why I get saddened a lot by people getting frustrated by others. One of the main complaints I see from community minded streamers towards more branded streamers is their reliance on playing “trending” or popular games to get ahead. I’ve seen small streamers getting angry on Twitter because they can’t grow unless they play trending games (which is entirely untrue in my opinion, I’ve done just fine). I have seen streamers ridicule larger, more popular full-time streamers for their way of doing things.

Smaller streamers. You always have the choice of how you stream. So do they. They did their thing. You do yours. Stop worrying about what others are doing and focus on your content.

The other thing I have seen though, which I also have to question, is bigger streamers saying things such as “I grind 60 hours a week to get where I am. What are you doing?” I can only speak for myself but I only manage about 20ish hours a week on average because I can’t afford to stream full-time. I mean I am not personally targeted by this, I’m using myself as an example. I am happy with what I am doing but it makes me wonder, if streaming is a “grind” to do it full-time for a living, is it any better than any other job?

It’s made me think extensively about myself and my stream and I find myself asking the question “Do I want to stream full-time?”. The answer used to be yes, but these days I am not so sure.

Streaming for me is a getaway. Somewhere I can be a bit silly and hang out with and make lots of new friends. I am a partnered streamer and money I make doing it goes into buying new games and equipment to stream with and it works for me. I don’t want that to become a super stressful thing. I have had main games on my channel come and go because I got frustrated playing the same thing. Branded streaming is not my thing.

Again, going back to my two types of streamer. The lines are blurred in some cases for sure. But if you are a community based streamer playing lots of things part-time, I feel like you have to accept that you won’t grow magically overnight. I accepted it a while ago and I am so much happier with what I do as a result. I believe I put out quality content, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. I find people coming in and saying hi just to leave when I immediately respond. Perhaps they get nervous or shocked I replied so quickly. I really don’t know. But others come and stay and laugh and have a good time and I will say, I have a wonderfully close-knit community, which I worry may seem inaccessible to some people discovering me and that’s another challenge altogether. I am always trying to welcome new people to my channel and sometimes I hook them, sometimes I don’t. I accept I may never go full-time doing things the way I do and that’s okay by me.

So, when you want advice on how to become a big streamer from a big streamer and they say grind, try it. But big streamers, know this. Not everyone can. You are blessed with the patience and drive to stream 60 hours a week, sometimes around a job and you deserve praise for that. I don’t, however, think encouraging everyone to grind is healthy. It creates a lot of smaller streamers who get frustrated because they didn’t blow up in a week, a month, even a year.

And smaller streamers, if you’re one of these people frustrated and throwing negativity at larger streamers then look at yourself. Are you happy? If the answer is no, don’t take it out on others. Don’t berate people for not coming into your streams (I know a guy who complains constantly about people not showing up to his streams, that attitude will drive them, away more, not bring them back. People have lives y’know). Just enjoy the ride.

My advice for new streamers? Just stream. See if you like it. If you do, keep it up. If not, nobody is forcing you to continue. Everything above, I have learned on my journey. I have had the frustrations and come out the other side a better streamer, and a better person overall. It’s all about choice. Will you choose positivity or negativity?

I Finally Did The Thing!

Well, it finally happened. I have been threatening (promising?) to put together a website for some time and now, well as I said, it finally happened!

So, it is with great joy I can say WELCOME to Slinkonage.co.uk! Having recently been accepted by EGX as a press member thanks to being a partnered streamer I thought I would try and develop my writing and typing skills again. It’s been a while since I last had any sort of blog or website put together and it is definitely the first time since becoming a Mixer streamer so I hope this will be quite an exciting time in my life.

That said, like most things, I have very little planned to go on here. It’s going to be more of a ramblethon than anything else. Somewhere I can be a bit opinionated and discuss things I want to discuss. I’m going to be making sure that I bring everyone’s attention to this little project of mine so apologies in advance for Twitter/Discord/anywhere else you might find links to this place.

And so for now, again, welcome. I hope this winds up being a beautiful ride!