Stream of Consciousness: Thoughts on Drake Setting Twitch Records

Stream of Consciousness: Thoughts on Drake Setting Twitch Records

tldr; Drake plays video games, Twitch goes bananas. I observe and reflect.

It’s hard not to be in the know of what happened last night. Just by being in the circle of video games, I know that Drake helped streamer Ninja set a record with concurrent Twitch views last night, while playing Fortnite with him. Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster later joined in.

Real talk. I know Drake is a rapper from Canada. I know what he looks like. He is in a meme. I can’t name one Drake song though. I also know Travis Scott is a rapper, what he looks like, and he is/was in a relationship with one of the Kardashians. I can’t name one Travis Scott song. I do know enough about JuJu Smith-Schuster, being I care more about football than rap music. And the Steelers are always on prime time TV.

The same can be said about Fortnite. I know it is a MOBA made by Epic Games, and is commonly #1 or #2 on viewed Twitch games since release. I see it as a more cartoony style of PUBG. That is literally all I know about that game.

Obviously, celebrities are the key to garnering views

This is the main takeaway, and one that will likely lead to much imitation down the line. The funny thing is that in Ninja’s stream, you don’t even see Drake on camera. Sure, it is documented that he did do the Fornite co-op, but Drake not even having to appear on camera broke records. Expect streamers to do everything in their capacity to try to get celebrities in co-ops.

Not just any celebrities

The thing is that you can’t just be a slouch. Like a side character from a 90s show, or drummer for Sugar Ray (not sure why I use this example, lul). Drake and Travis Scott are really famous in music, and JuJu Smith-Schuster gets more press than most NFL players. These co-op guests are at the top of their respective fields, and even appeal to the audience. This automatically makes younger celebrities a bigger hit with the Twitch crowd. Unless you’re someone like Bill Nye.

Good press countering bad press

Fortnite has been in the news lately in a bad light, in the war against video games, due to recent school shootings. I’m not getting into this too much, but this is harkening to 20 years ago with Columbine, as Harris and Klebold were really into Quake or Doom. I don’t expect this war against video games to persist for too long, as nothing was really done 20 years ago about it all.

But this Drake helping hit Twitch records was good news for esports. It showed the industry is stronger than ever as a medium of entertainment consumption. And whatever negative perception of this game, basically regarded an anathema in main stream media, was completely ignored for one night. The power of celebrity can do that, and probably holds more sway than anything.

It must’ve sucked for other streamers

I dabbled streaming Duel Links for a month, until an update on Steam made nothing record on OBS. It is a bit of work to be a good streamer. Some people stream just to dabble in it, but some people are more serious about streaming, keeping regular schedules. These people are either trying to build something, make a name for themselves, make money, etc.

Let’s say last night, you had some great stuff in-mind, and brought your A-game. Your viewer count is lower than normal though. Drake showing up in a co-op probably sapped views from every other streamer, pulling away people with the exception for stream-lurk/sub-diehards. It was an uncontrollable negative externality on any individual streamer.

Good thing for Twitch

I’m sure a lot of people who tuned in were not regular Twitch viewers. Drake posts a link on Twitter, a much more known social media outlet, into Twitch, something only traditionally gamers frequented. I’m not going to pretend to know the numbers of clickthroughs for this, but let’s say it was a lot of views. Twitch has expanded outside of gaming in the past year, and are seemingly doing anything for views. This was a great thing, mostly for exposing Twitch to audiences who don’t regularly use it.

MOBAs

I’ll end by talking about MOBAs. It seems the top 3 viewed games on Twitch at any given time are MOBAs. This is probably happening by now, but game companies should push out MOBAs that improve on what current ones don’t have. It makes sense to make more of a game that is enjoyed much by the viewerbase.

 

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Latest Arena Scoop with Hafu and Mike Donais

Latest Arena Scoop with Hafu and Mike Donais

One year ago, I first reported on some Hearthstone Arena insights, thanks to top player Hafu and game designer Mike Donais playing Arena on Twitch. I became aware of another co-op that went on yesterday, which can be seen here. As a dedicated Arena player, any of these insights are especially juicy and interesting. I watched the co-op to pick up on any incoming news coming to Arena. The following declarations are not official, but come from now Principal Game Designer Mike Donais, so that for what it’s worth.

Vicious Fledgling out

Arguably one of the most snowbally cards in Arena history, Vicious Fledgling, is going to be on a banlist coming next patch. It definitely is not the best card in the rare pool when you look at wins, but it definitely was not a fair card. The card won’t be gone entirely, as it will come up in Discover/Random Effects/Transform. I for one will be glad to see it go, as the bad moments seem to come up much more than the good ones.

Mage is mid-tier

Mages got a subpar set of cards in KFT. Their best Arena card is a 3-mana 3/4. This coupled with microadjustments, has knocked Mage to being the 5th-best Arena class. Definitely an unfamiliar position for the class. While you’ll still run into those who have constant answers and board clears, the ones who don’t get victimized more in the low-win pool.

Speed mode?

Never cared for slow Hearthstone play. When asked about the possibility of a speed mode, Mike Donais mentioned that the team has tested it out. He mentioned there were problems with dragged out effects, and mobile play.

A card like Dinomancy

In the background noise of Blizzard HQ, there seemed to be a social gathering going on where Mike was playing Arena. There was laughter (not Brode), and people talking loudly, but indiscriminately. In this, Mike mentioned that Iksar was talking about a card that had a similar effect as Dinomancy. Dinomancy is predictably one of those cards that never went anywhere, is just for fun.

Auto-squelch

Mike Donais squelched every opponent in the run, something I am starting to do more of. He personally is a fan of implementing that feature for Hearthstone, but I have a feeling that decision isn’t up to him.

Robot drafts

Were synergy picks made to specifically combat Arena drafting tools? Hafu and Mike faced a few players who had amazing decks, but made a lot of bad plays. The subject of “robot drafts” came up, in how seemingly players have amazing decks everywhere, sometimes not matching up to skill. Mike mentioned synergy picks meaning to throw a wrinkle to the robot drafts.

Arena patch timing

The next patch, which would get rid of synergy picks, Vicious Fledgling, and possibly more, isn’t coming in the “next week or two.” Mid October or later October?

OP Death Knights

An Arena complaint that shows up every so often are Death Knights, which can swing the game right back in the favor of a player. A big-time “blue shell play.” Mike didn’t imply that Death Knights were leaving Arena, or were planned to do so yet.

DreamHack Austin and Hearthstone’s Rowdy Fans

This week in Hearthstone news, an article published on GosuGamers called “Enough is Enough” detailed the struggles of a Twitch moderator in trying to control a seemingly extremely raucous Twitch Chat for the DreamHack Austin Hearthstone Grand Prix. I don’t think I was able to watch any of it, besides a few games of Kolento vs Eloise, but I am well-versed enough with Twitch to know what the issue is all about. Instead of really taking a whole side in this argument, I’m going to bring up random points, and ramble about them in my point of view.

  • Twitch Chat is inherently crazy and insulting
    • Owing to years of having slow internet, I never watched Twitch for long periods at a time. I regularly watched ADWCTA/Merps talk about Arena for a time. I will watch tournament games to kill some time at work. I enjoy watching Ben Brode stream when he’s on. Despite being on Twitch not very often, I know that Twitch Chat is the embodiment of chaos. When you have a smaller crowd, there tends to be general civility, with interaction with the streamers/mods. You can have questions answered. But when the crowd seems to go past 1000, things start to get weird. For big events in Hearthstone, the crowd definitely goes in the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. Streamers like Forsen also have very large crowds. At some point, I realized it is best to have Twitch Chat hidden because of the constantly crazy crowd.
    • I’m 26 going on 27, so I am in the upper age window for people using emojis. I personally don’t use them or really understand them, because I am behind in the times. I admit that some of the core emojis in Twitch like Kappa and Kreygasm are entertaining and fun. But when the chat is just flooded with emojis, they just become annoying.
  • “They’re just 12 year olds”
    • I see this defense for Twitch Chat everywhere, and it honestly is a poor excuse to make for anything. If 12 year olds went around kicking people in the shins in public for no reason, and their parents say “they’re just kids,” would you be satisfied? And the average Twitch demographic is likely more manchild than an actual 12 year old.
  • Racism or trolling?
    • I had no idea who TerrenceM was prior to starting this blog entry. I went on Google Images and found out he is black. Unfortunately, that revelation made the entire discussion “make sense.”
    • I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in Baltimore. I was here when the riots happened last year. I do public health work with predominately Black families, for home visits about maternal health. I’ve been all around the rough parts of town, depicted on The Wire. I am aware of what concerns the population have here.
    • I also know what it is like growing Asian American. Thinking back, I faced a ton of racism as a kid in school. In Baltimore (where most people are either Black or White), a lot of people aren’t familiar with Asian Americans, and think I wasn’t born here, and expect an accent or a weird foreign name from me. But given my “chill nature,” none of it really affected me or drove me over the rails.
    • No matter what your thoughts on race(s) are, it is undeniable that racism is everywhere. The outlets for racism are different depending on your beliefs (e.g. the police, media, social norms, employers, people in general, etc), but know that it exists.
    • Flashfoward to DreamHack, and you have TerrenceM, a black guy, in the finals vs Chakki, a white guy. If you are familiar with who the pro Hearthstone players are, almost everyone is White or Asian. There also is an emerging eSports scene in Latin America. So let’s assume the Twitch Chat audience is from the Americas, Europe, and Asia. It is fairly obvious (and unfortunate) that the black guy is going to be picked on by the chat.
    • I am not too familiar with racism in other countries, but I would assume that America is further along in race relations, given there is more diversity in America, with different people living among each other. I have heard of simian-styled heckling of African soccer players playing in Europe. I don’t know how washed up NBA players are treated in Chinese basketball or European leagues. The racism projected by Twitch Chat, on all races, is representative of worldwide racism.
    • Given world events (a euphemism) and words said by people like Ted Cruz, imagine if a clearly Muslim, Middle-Eastern person was competing in the finals. I have seen enough comparisons to Madder Bomber, and a certain Twitch emoji, and a certain Arabic phrase to know that it would be probably 20x worse than what happened in DreamHack Austin.
    • And the last bullet point here. I have no idea how prevalent the racism and bigotry was in the DreamHack Austin Twitch Chat, because I didn’t see it myself. I would assume not everyone who sent in something offensive actually feels that way. I would expect a fair number of trolls. But we don’t know how many of that denominator were the real racist and bigoted people, projecting their actual beliefs.
  • Free speech?
    • The argument of what constitutes as free speech is something I am not knowledgeable enough to weigh in on intelligently. I would levy that it is okay to disagree with something respectfully, but not in a way that is insulting to others participating and watching. Of course, most people in the Twitch Chat would likely be unable to express disagreement without coming off as insulting.
  • Herd civility and cloaks
    • I have attended enough baseball games to know that most people watching the game there are civil. Even if you are wearing the colors of the “away” team, you are probably not going to get harassed besides some friendly booing or thumbs downs. If you behave well and are respectful, and you will not get assaulted at a baseball game. This “herd civility” is protective. There are enough families around, and overall nice people, that will enforce an aura of respect.
    • Like it or not, the Twitch Chat is the crowd that is watching an eSports competition. And everyone is wearing a cloak of internet anonymity. It is likely impossible to expect everyone to act a certain way, when everyone is somewhere else in the world.
  • What can be done?
    • The mods of any Twitch chat have a difficult task when handling a large crowd. Apparently people were hit with bans for offensive language for that particular chat, and it seems to be a regular thing in Twitch. In DreamHack Austin though, it was said that a certain mod “was joining in”the hateful dialogue. Clearly, you need responsible people to handle the enforcing.
    • A ban from Twitch chat is just a slap in the wrist in the end though. One idea would just be shutting off the Twitch stream for an offender for a period of time. ISP tracking and delays aren’t new technology at all. Of course, Twitch probably isn’t willing to do this, because they want people watching their stream, not drive them away. And any punitive measure is a slippery slope, given how “Big Brother” your streaming service appears.
    • Clearly, firm rules are needed for a Twitch Chat to improve. Certain Reddit subreddits like Competitive Hearthstone are known for very strict rules, but the end product is rather good. Any filtering bots need to be more discriminating of offensive language. Excessive emojis also need enforcement.
  • Final thoughts
    • Though it is up to the community to improve themselves and behave on Twitch Chat, it is foolish to expect behavior change because of what happened.
    • It is ultimately up to Twitch to make any changes to help clean up their chats.
    • Company reputation is an important thing when distinguishing a firm from a rival. Twitch Chats having a toxic reputation could be damaging, but this is hard to say, given there isn’t really a gold standard for eSports streaming services.