Today’s post is a rather tough one for me to write, but I believe it is absolutely necessary. The topic is my recent decision yesterday on my twitch stream to decline to play games with my fans.
I will explain.
While recently I have returned to twitch, I am by no means new to live streaming. It all started for me back in March of 2015, and as 2019 has now arrived I am inching closer and closer to being a senior streamer.
Now that I am at the supposed top of the class, it is time to not make the mistakes that I made in my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. It is time to get serious, and be smart at the same time.
Many times over the years I have brought followers, viewers, fans, etc. into my live streams. We would play games together, have fun, and enjoy each other’s company. This at first seemed to be a big win-win for the channel as it encouraged people to tune into my show to get a chance to play with me (thus increasing viewership for me), while also providing a reward for the fans (getting to be part of the show via playing with me).
But two bad things happened.
First, I noticed a loss in what I call classic viewers: People that come to the stream routinely and tune in almost every day. These viewers are the core of how any stream reaches success. No streamer can reach any height without a dedicated viewer base. And with my twitch tools allowing me to see who is coming in and out of my channel, I notice who is here and who is not. So this was needless to say very alarming seeing my classic viewers disappear from my channel. Why was this happening? For the longest time I could not understand it. But then it hit me.
By playing with fans I had changed our relationship.
Before, fans were excited to watch my stream and just sit back and enjoy it. But after they were offered a taste to be more than a viewer, by playing in the games with me where the audience could see their gameplay and hear their voice communications in real time, the dynamic was changed. These fans had now become part of the show and they loved it. Why wouldn’t they? I have had a few jobs at this point, in many different industries, and I can tell you
Entertaining is magic.
Once you get a taste of it, you want more. Well, what happened next was that there are only so many hours I stream every session. And further there are only so many fans that I can play with in one game at a time. And sometimes I also do not want to play with fans at all. This is because I want to make some new ones! I can truthfully say that I am exceptionally good at meeting people and it is something that I absolutely love doing. If I only play with the people I know everyday I will never get to meet anyone new. A large part of why I love solo queuing (going into competitive matches by myself) is because I am the opposite of most people.
I love meeting random people. This truly is a passion of mine.
So I started solo queuing again. But then the fans were hurt. They no longer were part of the show. They wanted to be up there on the big screen in the games with me like they were before. But here I was playing with some random people that I didn’t even know?
That hurt them.
And I could tell. Because their names disappeared from my chat; many times never to be seen from again, and if I did see them again, it was never with the same frequency with which they tuned in before. I had lost another classic fan. These fans felt that they were unimportant. They likely concluded that I, Nolan, did not care about them, that they were only a number and as such after they had me I was on towards the next number, e.g. the new players in my games which I would try to convert into fans in order to grow my channel.
I know this is how fans felt. I cannot clearly prove this to you as I am not in their heads as only they are, but after years of streaming you notice patterns and if you are an apt entertainer you learn how to deal with emotions and how fans think. I can tell you that my actions were making my fans feel that they were unimportant: and this was never ever my intention. All I wanted to do was give them good entertainment and at the same time grow my show. This is what the fan does not realize. They just see the party, e.g. the show. They don’t get the grind, the hustle, the tireless work day after day that serious streamers, musicians, actors, writers, entertainers, etc. put into their craft with little to no reward in the moment but only with the promise of possible success in the future. (This is why I highly encourage viewers to stream themselves so they understand the perspective of streamers.)
I stream to entertain and spread knowledge to my fans. This is why I do this. But my goal is to make it. I have large ambitions, and I believe that there is nothing shameful in admitting this. I think it is rather courageous actually, to aim for the stars. But to do this I need to set up my show in a way that does not make my viewers leave, even if it is not intentional.
Results are what matter.
If I am doing certain things, and as a consequence I am noticing a patter of classic fans exiting my channel, then I need to quit what I am doing and re-evaluate my stream model. So to fix this, first I had to recognize that playing with my fans was a major problem. But stopping doing this was not so easy for me.
I have a soft spot for people, and especially so for my fans.
I enjoy making them happy, this is why I love entertaining. This is why I do this every day. If I did not I would not be streaming everyday. It’s why I quit my past jobs working in the vacation rental industry, selling BMWs, and my work in politics. I no longer enjoyed the day in and the day out grind. Not so with streaming, there is something magical about it. Even on the rough nights, which I still have and always will have no matter what level of success I achieve, I enjoy what I do. But back to to the main point. So even though I had come to this revelation a long time ago (that playing fans was a source of conflict for my channel) I would cave in and play with fans again because I felt miserable disappointing them. But then same thing always happened. More fans would come in and ask,
“Hey can I get in a game?”
To which I would often respond, “not today I am solo queuing,” or that “I already have a full team.” Then almost without fail that viewer would disappear from my stream. Remember reader, in this post I am talking solely about my classic fans here, fans I know personally in my the scope of my channel. I could even name names, but I do not think that would be necessary for the post, nor appropriate to do so. Back to the post, this fan coming in was not someone that from the outset only wanted to play with me because I was a streamer. These fans exist and the only way to satisfy them is to play with them, but I am not talking about these types of fans. The fans that I am talking about were loyal viewers who would watch my streams in their entirety just for me and my entertainment or edifying value, not merely to play with me. But by my choice of bringing my fans into my show I turned them into these other types of fans.
This happened because of my decision to include them into the show. This changed their relationship to the stream. And once you go up, you never want to go back down.
But the problems did not end there. That was just the first part. The second major problem of playing with fans was how they felt pitted against one another. Some of my fans were clearly much better than other fans at the games which I was streaming so naturally I wanted to pick them over others, especially if I was doing ranked play. So right here I was starting to discriminate amongst them, which was obviously noticeable to my viewers, no matter how well I might have masked it.
Everyone knows when someone is better than they are.
But I didn’t just discriminate based on level of skill, I also did it on the character of the people I played with. Some people I would bring in, often players with high levels of skill, would effectively hijack my show. They would broadcast their skill so loudly by proclaiming every kill they got and would constantly talk and talk and talk into their microphone so that my viewers would hear them. To these people I say,
Go make your own show.
Because you totally can. Open Broadcaster Software is free, twitch accounts are free, and if you are gaming at high levels you likely already have a computer that is good enough to stream. So instead of hijacking my show (or someone else’s) go make your own. Literally no one and nothing is stopping you. And further, often I see that high level players have a higher tendency to exhibit toxic behavior much more so than that with lower level players. And reader, while this post my seem cold, I truly am a nice guy. Toxic behavior has no place in my stream, I am not going to stand for it like I did at times in the past (only because I was too much of a push-over to ban people: nice-guy syndrome at work.) If you are toxic, I don’t care how good at a game you are or how much you money you send to my PayPal. I won’t play with you and I will kick you out of my stream. I have a reputation to uphold and I do that by keeping my channel in line with that. If you want to be toxic, I cannot stop that in general, but I can and will stop it in my channel.
Other fans I would play with would fanboy or fangirl way too much. Every time I would get a kill they would say,
“OMG NICE KILL NOLAN YOU ARE SO GOOD YOU ARE THE BEST”
Naturally, these types of fans I just simply could not deal with. I may be a pretty good player at most games, but I am not exceptionally amazing. And even if I was this is a level of fellatio that I am just not interested in. As arrogant as this sounds, I am far too humble to be around comments like this. It makes me feel more uncomfortable than anything. So I stopped playing with fans like this as well.
This then left me with the fans I wanted to play with. Those that were good players, very respectful that it was my show and not theirs, and often they were funny as well or had some other unique quality about them that made me appreciate their company on my team as well as part of my show. Now I was all good to go right?
Now, all those other fans that I did not want to play with were hurt. I had chosen these select few over them. They felt as if they were unimportant. Now this is not true. I chose to play with other fans over them as their behavior was not fitting with me or my show; it had nothing to do with them being unimportant to me. And I think the majority of people reading this blog post will agree with me here, but this is truth about emotions.
Even if emotions are wrong or unfounded, they are real to the people that hold them.
It does not matter that I explain why I do not want to play them because of toxic behavior, hijacking, fanboying, etc. these people have their feelings hurt. Once that happens they are done with the show, and once again,
I have lost another classic fan.
So here we are reader. At the tail end of this long heartfelt post. I really do mean it when I say that I wish I could play with my fans. I do enjoy the games with them that go well. But I do not enjoy the fallout from what inevitably happens time and time again. I have streamed for just under 4 years at this point and I have made this mistake too many times. I am not going to start off my 10th era of my stream career and the new year off with continuing a lethal mistake from the past. If I did I would be an utter fool. It’s time to do it right this time, so I will stand strong with my tough decision which I made yesterday.
For those of you that used to play games with me or wanted to play games with me in the future, I really am sorry to disappoint you, this is something that I never wanted to do to you, but after reading my thoughts and feelings on this issue I really hope you understand and that I do not lose you as a fan.
I have learned that nothing in life comes without a tough decision. In order to make my stream work this time around I have the tough decision to stream every single day from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM with no exceptions. This has meant for me that I have turned down numerous party and dinner invitations, hang out sessions with friends, and other opportunities. But I am happy to have made that decision. I absolutely love my show and I love you all who watch it. I cannot attain the success I desire without you and my dream is to take it all the way to top, but with my classic fans still very much watching. I don’t want to be another show at the top with only fair-weather fans. I want you all to be here for the full ride and to be able to continue my relationships with you from now till the very end.
So I then made another tough decision, this time in my show itself. At first it will hurt, but in the long run I know that it is best for the show and for keeping the classic fans together. You are all important to me. Sure, I have known some of you longer than others, and some I know on a personal level much more than others, but never for one second think that I am valuing other fans over you. I do this show for every one of you. And anyone who tells you that they are more important to me than you is not a real fan of mine, and I not of them. I despise people that get off on feeling important at the cost of another’s unimportance or emotional suffering. If they spout bullshit such as that, brush it off and know this: they don’t know me. I don’t and will never stand for trash values such as that.
I may not be playing games with you anymore but trust me, it’s not because you aren’t unimportant, it’s because you are.