Sunday, September 8, 2019

Why You Should Allow Backseat Gaming (Monday Musings 81)

FuzzyJCats Twitch Channel

Almost all streamers I've met and have immense respect are really against backseat gaming, so this post is to explore reasons why you should reconsider.

I invite backseat gaming enthusiastically because I do need help in games and I don't care if someone says to watch out for x and y even if I'm aware of those particular issues, as well as for other reasons as will be explored below.

Albeit, I don't like story spoilers because other viewers may not know what happens in the end and you really don't want to spoil things. Unfortunately, I've made mistakes during stream where I inadvertently divulged which I then have to apologize.

Of course, I'm not talking about allowing toxic backseat gaming where your viewers are saying that you're a complete loser and waste of space because you missed a secret in game, or other hateful statements. 

Rather, I'm talking about the kind of backseat gaming when your viewers are very excited and enthusiastic about the game and offer tips and suggestions, which then spark a discussion in the community about best weapons, best builds and other gaming matters. This may lead to much needed conversational threads and sense of camaraderie amongst your viewers, since dead air is a death knell.

When new viewers come in and see friendly exchanges about the game in chat, they see that the stream is active and "not dead", and might even join in the lively conversation because they may feel compelled to put in their own two cents.

Now, if you're streaming just for the hobby and you don't care at all about viewers or streaming income, and you absolutely can't stand back seating, by all means, do prohibit it in your streams and ban/timeout anyone who doesn't follow your rules.

However, if you're interested in growing your channel and wanting to get some pocket money from your streaming endeavors, I would consider not just allowing backseat gaming, but perhaps even encouraging.


The key objection to backseat gaming is that it spoils the experience for you as a streamer, but the point is, you're streaming for your audience, not for yourself! Recall that streaming is a form of entertainment.

Another reason is that subconsciously, the streamer wants to figure things out which will make them seem clever to the community to stroke your own ego, but who cares? I found by listening and understanding others (rather than trying to impress by seeming clever and accomplished), people have found me "fun".

I'm emphatically not being a home body, but because I spend hours asking questions about their favorite subjects, such as their children (even as my eyes glaze over, I hate to admit), they enjoy talking to me.

That's not to compliment myself, because the reality is, people want to be seen and heard, and if you give them the platform, they find you absolutely charming.

Next time at a party of strangers, just listen and ask pertinent questions, that person will find you riveting and will talk to you for hours if you let them - they will never make a questionable excuse that they have to go home and feed their cats. Don't be surprised if that person tells their friend that they would like to get to know you better.

Why do people backseat game? There are many reasons, but the main one is because they're very enthusiastic about the game and want to show how much they know, as people want to be seen as intelligent, knowledgeable and helpful, even as backseat gaming grates on almost everyone's nerves. People love to show off and/or share their knowledge and expertise.

Next, what is the purpose of entertaining an audience, of which streaming is a form? People engage in entertainment to have fun and feel good. What better way to do that by allowing your audience to actively participate, and hence feeling good about themselves for being smart, helpful and capable!

Often, when I ask my community what to do in a particular situation or how to get to a certain location due to my horrific sense of directions, they always give me superb advice which adds to chat content.

By telling your viewers how helpful and intelligent they are - and you're not lying because they are exceedingly astute since they also play these games, often spending hundreds to thousands of hours - they feel good about themselves and a sense of accomplishment. Though I think I exhausted some of my viewers when they were giving me directions, so perhaps something I have to dial down in the future. But in general, viewers do enjoy being seen as smart.

The exciting thing is that through the power of backseat gaming, my community literally pushed me through half of Borderlands 2, which is no small feat, given I never succeeded in any FPS! At that time, I could complete Borderlands 2 but it was too mentally exhausting for me to stream since I was inexperienced. Even so, I know I can beat the game off-stream (or even while streaming when I gain more experience) thanks to my lovely community.

The other good thing about allowing backseat gaming is that no one likes to follow rules - freedom here is the key - so if you have a long list of don'ts, it can led to a sense of suffocation. Then there's the inevitable backlash where they do exactly what you don't want them too.

So often, when you hear someone say "Whatever you do, don't touch that",  you're going to want to touch said offensive object, even if in one million years, you'd never think of touching it.

As for objections, I'm sure streamers feel that if they allow backseat gaming, everyone will tell the streamer what to do and the chat will be a chaotic mess. This is actually good since Twitch specifically looks for engaged and active chats! This is Partnership material!

However, don't get excited, because the reverse is true. There are times when I'm practically begging chat to help me find a way, but because they're used to the general etiquette of backseat gaming = bad, they only relent after quite a lengthy period of time, when I'm tearing out my hair.

The other objection I can see is that other viewers might be annoyed with the advice and tips, but at the same time, they can ignore reading the chat comments. They're not forced to be glued to their seats, eyes trained on your chat box.

However, if your community is reasonable, another one of your viewers (maybe a new one) will invariably chime in that there is yet another way to get there, as well as tease you for bad sense of directions. The dialogue tends to go into other intricacies of the game that foster further comments, which is a must if you want to obtain partnership.

Another reasonable objection is that by stumbling about and the community seeing you figure out things your own way could be entertaining, so backseat gaming will prevent that. Again, because the ethos is backseat gaming = bad, even as I'm encouraging my chat to tell me what to do, crickets are chirping until I flounder for up to 30 minutes, maybe for even longer.

Even so, you can thank the viewer and mention that's very smart, but then mention, you'll try it this other way. This is where you can be clever, by finding another solution then what is recommended, in effect showing off your creativity!

The last objection I can think of is what if your viewers are toxic about backseat gaming? Well, timeout or ban said viewer, exactly as you do for any other type of toxic comments on chat, whether it's bigoted remarks, insulting others, or what not.

I can't think of any further issues or problems in empowering your community to give out advice and tips, only positive ones.

What about you? Do you agree, or do you see pitfalls?

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