Twitch picks: choosing games to play on stream

One of the hardest parts of maintaining a Twitch channel is deciding on games to stream. There are so many factors to consider: the sort of titles your audience likes, the releases which are popular with viewers right now and what you actually want to play.

My other-half and I have been streaming together for around five years now and, if you disregard the audio issues which seem to plague every new streamer at the beginning of their journey, I’d say that choosing the right games has been the biggest difficulty for us. Participating in GameBlast marathon streams for SpecialEffect has given us the perfect opportunity to gain some experience though and our 50-day challenge for the event earlier this year was an interesting learning curve.

Our goal was to stream every day for at least an hour from 05 January to 23 February 2020, to raise funds and awareness for this awesome charity. That meant an awful lot of planning and having to decide which releases would be featured in our extended schedule. After 50 days, over 136 hours of streaming and more than 40 games, we met our objective and managed to raise £600 for SpecialEffect – and came to the realisation that some titles were far better for being played live on Twitch than others.

The most popular session during our challenge turned out to be the evening we spent with Detroit: Become Human. Some of the friends who joined us in chat had already completed it themselves and wanted to see how my story would differ from their own; while those who hadn’t tried it yet were eager to join in by giving their opinions when it came to making choices for the characters. It helped that the plot inspired some pretty strong emotions and those displayed on stream were all genuine reactions (sorry for the swearing).

The choice element could explain why Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure proved to be successful too. A tabletop-RPG title like this – which relies heavily imagination because it doesn’t show the action – really shouldn’t work but allowing the audience to get involved by making taking turns to make decisions enhanced their participation in the stream. The fact that this got our character killed several times during the session made it more hilarious and it was a fun, shared experience with friends.

These shared games result in some of the more memorable streams and Contradiction: Spot the Liar! provided one such session. Viewers joined in with this full-motion video (FMV) title by helping us figure out the location that should be investigated next, which non-player characters (NPCs) shouldn’t be trusted and ultimately who the murderer was. There was also plenty of discussion around the actors involved and how good their performances were; we all fell in love with protagonist Detective Jenks and his expressive eyebrows, played by Rupert Booth.

Moving away from narrative-based releases for a moment, we’ve found that games based around levels or quests also work well for us on Twitch. Taking a break between each section gives you the chance to talk to friends who have joined you in chat, stretch your legs or grab a cup of tea and sneaky biscuit. A good example is Neon Drive: it’s not the sort of thing we’d usually play but it was well-received during our 50-day challenge, with Pete and I swapping the controller between levels so we were both fully involved.

Diablo III is another title made for streaming because you can stop between battles without losing track of the gameplay – but be prepared to receive advice from viewers who are more experienced at it than you. It was a game we started just for fun but then stopped when we realised we were frustrating some of our audience by not playing it ‘seriously’ enough. We’ve had similar experiences with multiplayers such as The Elder Scrolls Online and Sea of Thieves, where people have popped up in chat to tell us how to play ‘properly’.

I love story-based games but, as much those mentioned above have been successful, they don’t always work well on Twitch. The final episode of Kentucky Route Zero was released during the 50-day challenge and I’d been waiting for a long time to play it but it was just far too slow for the stream. I also made the mistake of choosing to play Ether One at 04:00 in the morning during a previous GameBlast marathon: it’s a great game but there was a real danger of me falling asleep because there wasn’t enough action to keep me awake.

Perhaps the worst titles you can choose to play though are those you’re not enjoying. Streaming is meant to be fun and there’s nothing worse than having to sit game which makes it feel like a chore; it’s not fun for you and it certainly isn’t fun for your audience. My least favourite session during our charity streams this year was the evening with Felix the Reaper because the controls were horrible and I just couldn’t get to grips with them. So we made the best decision we could: turn it off and start playing Grand Theft Auto: V at our viewers’ request instead.

So you see, choosing games to feature on your Twitch channel can be a bit of a minefield, but there’s a bit of advice I can give you which will solve all your problems. Forget about playing releases which are popular or cool because chasing followers isn’t going to get you anywhere fast. Instead, focus on playing something you’re actually going to enjoy. Some of the best streams I’ve watched are those where the streamer is genuinely excited about a new game or are playing something older and are willing to share their experience with it.

This is definitely something Pete and I will keep in mind when we return to streaming later this month after taking a break. In the past, we’ve spent far too long stressing over which games are suitable for the Later Level channel and have even made the mistake of choosing things which seem like a good fit over our own enjoyment. From now on, we’re going to stream when we’re feeling motivated to do so – and we’re going to play titles which we’re truly looking forward to getting stuck into.

Hopefully, if we’re having fun, then our friends in chat will too.

Creative Christmas: party playlist

It’s day four of the Creative Christmas collaboration, where a group of bloggers come together to tackle 12 video-game-related questions based around a loose festive storyline. Following on from yesterday’s answer about helping out in Santa’s workshop, the next question is:

It’s now Christmas Eve and you’re throwing a lively party for all your friends, family and favourite characters. Which video game soundtracks would be on your playlist?


My answer

I’m a huge fan of the eighties and love most things to do with the decade. I’d also love to throw the perfect party like those you see in the movies: ones with glitter, streamers and big puffball skirts, where everyone on the dancefloor knows the exact same moves. It’s therefore no surprise my Christmas gathering would be inspired by the decade and feature video game soundtracks to suit the mood.

To kick us off, I’d start with the music used throughout Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It’s so awesome that it even got its own official release. With classics such as Run To You and Waiting for a Girl Like You (not to mention the DJs), it’s perfect for dancing yourself silly and singing at the top of your voice until your throat hurts.

Next up we’d turn to chiptune and keep it old-school by visiting the original Outrun soundtrack. My brother had the title on his Game Gear when we were young and I used to steal it all the time so I could play it (much to his annoyance). My favourite track was Passing Breeze and it takes me back to being a kid when I hear it.

Keeping the vibe going but taking a modern turn, we’d move onto the soundtrack from Neon Drive. This isn’t a game I’ve played myself just yet but one I was turned onto after reading this review on Pardon The Gamer. I absolutely adore its bright visuals and eighties aesthetic, and the music suits them right down to the ground.

Hotline Miami isn’t a game you’d think about alongside Christmas due to its level of violence, and it’s actually not my cup-of-tea in terms of gameplay. But one area where it does strike all the right notes (pun intended) is with its music. This has got to be one of the best soundtracks within a video game and perfect for an eighties party.

To round the evening off, we’d go for the big finale: If It’s Not Alright Now, It Will Be Soon by Chris from OverThinker Y. This is a track this talented man wrote for me when I participated in his Musical Mayhem series earlier this year, and I absolutely love it.

Other answers

🎁   Thero159 from A Reluctant Hero
👪   Joey from AlunaRL
🎅   Athena from AmbiGaming
❤   ClanGeek
🦌   Morgan from Fistful of Glitter
🎄   Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog
🎮   LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release
🤞   NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog
🎉   Dan and Jon from nowisgames.com
🎁   Chris from OverThinker Y
🎅   Retro Redress
🎶   Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie
❤   Brandon from That Green Dude
🦌   The Dragon’s Tea Party
🎄   The Gaming Diaries
🦃   Kevin from The Mental Attic
👗   The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

The Creative Christmas collaboration is open to everyone and further details can be found in this post if you’d like to join in! Tomorrow’s question: The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?