A Game Developer’s bittersweet experience of being an Animal Crossing Streamer (Part 2 of 3)

Hi there! Welcome to Part 2~

Once again, my name is Timothi Ellim, and I am a video game developer who is currently the acting Creative Director of The Doodle People studio in Singapore. Daily, I work with a diverse team of awesome developers from all walks of life to create interactive experiences that connect generations.

This is a three-part story of my attempt at being an Animal Crossing Streamer during the first month and a half of my work-from-home life due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Every day, I played Animal Crossing for a month live on the internet. Because of that continuous playing and live streaming, I connected to players across the world, and found a community of both lofi music and animal crossing lovers. In the end, the “Lofi beats to play games with by Timothi Ellim” Facebook page reached a following of 2000+ with a total of 1900+ likes. Yet after a month, it all felt bittersweet. Why? Read on!

If you haven’t read Part 1, you can read it over here. If you’ve already read it, welcome back!

Part 2 of 3 — Connection~

Multistreaming and testing the audiences of multiple platforms at once

After numerous searches, I settled for the premium option of using Streamlabs. Streamlabs had multicasting built in, and while it came with a subscription, I decided it was worth it for the convenience.

Streamlabs felt just like OBS but with access to a theme store, its own analytics, and most importantly, quick setup for multistreaming. I still had to set up my accounts on Youtube Live, and Facebook Live, but those didn’t take long at all!

With Streamlabs and all channels set up, I launched my three-pronged campaign to find out which platform had that lofi + animal crossing combination.

The platform that responded the most was Facebook Live. I was surprised.

I don’t use Facebook that much other than for its messenger feature or catching up with family posts. I seldom stay in the Facebook app to watch the continuous stream of viral videos. So I double checked the data. The livestream on Facebook returned a small but significant 15 viewers, when compared with Twitch’s 1 viewer and Youtube Live’s 5 viewers.

15 Viewers!!

I pressed on and focused more on Facebook. The great thing about Facebook was that it had a great suite of analytic tools as well! Here are the Funnel Insights, Audience Retention and Audience Insights:

Funnel Insights helped me understand that most of my viewers left within a minute. Ouch.
Audience Retention helped me understand which parts of the content helped me engage viewers
And Audience Insights helped me learn a little more about who was watching my posts.

Facebook Live and its analytics actually made me feel good about streaming. It made me feel that yes, many of the viewers left within a minute, but at least there were 478 people who viewed the stream. In fact, the estimated reach meant that I could potentially connect to thousands of people.

Focusing on the platform that mattered most to myself and the audience I wanted to connect to.

Thank you Facebook Live. Without the Facebook Live platform, I wouldn’t be writing about this now.

Bit by bit, the Facebook Live stream came together. Within the week, we almost doubled our peak live viewers. With a total of 29 viewers, I felt a certain sort of bliss. It’s kind of elation where you feel unworthy, but then a few people make you feel great. A few kind words are able to get you going.

29! That’s 14 more viewers than 15! It’s happening~ Note that the date is Saturday

Yet I had not yet realized the impact of the different days of the week. The above was on Saturday, and then on Sunday:

Sunday wasn’t too bad, with 22 viewers but -1.3x distribution

Then Monday came by:

Monday coming in with 23 live viewers

Ouch. The numbers didn’t fall but they weren’t growing either. Sure it was the weekend, but I didn’t think Sunday and Monday hit this hard. My guess was that Sunday is family day, and Monday is focus on work day?

Nonetheless, I knew I needed to reach out if I wanted to grow. So I searched for Facebook groups and found tons of Animal Crossing groups! I joined them all and posted when their rules allowed for it.

And success! Posting on relevant Facebook Groups helped!

Yes! With more sharing and posting on groups, the peak live viewers went up to 44. Many were still leaving within 10 minutes but more viewers were increasingly staying around.

Here’s the graph for the 44 live viewers video

Bit by bit, our audience grew

With every video made, I learned more on how to communicate better online!

Here were the changes that helped me the most:

  • Plan the content for the week ahead
  • Set up a schedule with a catchy agenda for the stream
  • Remind the stream’s page followers at the start of the day that there’s a stream.
  • Before the stream starts, post and share the link to pages and groups
  • Go with the flow of the game, things may not work out well sometimes, but that’s the fun of live gaming!
  • Once the stream ends, make snippets and share it with others or to the stream’s page.

And with the changes came an increase in audience!

95 viewers! 95!!!
Performance improved!

Audience interactions and connecting with both new and old friends!

More than just numbers and analytics, the audience was also liking, sharing and commenting live! I was surprised to be able to connect with an old friend from high school as well. Games have the special ability of bringing people together.

Audience interaction via comments!

Another pleasant surprise was finding out that my favorite critter in the game was also well loved by others. In the game, you could collect a critter called the “Snapping Turtle” and after catching my first, I fell in love. As the critters only appeared at certain times and dates, I started blocking out times in the streams to catch them!

These are Snapping Turtles

The snapping turtle episode turned out to be a favorite of mine. I realized that through sharing what I loved, others could connect to me.

Data, Growth, and Human Connection — What does it mean to connect online?

Within a month, the Lofigames page grew, but does growth mean connection? I had used and relied on analytic tools to better connect to those who fell into the categories of liking Animal Crossing and Lofi music. Both of those categories include tens of thousands of people that I could connect to, and yet, that number felt more like a goal.

I felt that the more I used the analytic tools to reach out, the more I lost touch with what it meant to connect as a human. Do we as people in real life investigate what our friends and potential partners like, desire, or want, and then leverage that to create connections? The experience of growing the Lofigames page, while satisfying from a data and growth point of view, felt hollow to me as a human.

Games are a treasure to me. Games are beautiful and open doors to mindsets and worlds that we’ve never known or can never explore. Through games, we can learn more about ourselves, explore to our hearts content, and play with possibilities, life and death. Yet, here I was, playing games to increase the number of viewers or the number of likes on a page.

Why did I want to play Animal Crossing in the first place?

Animal Crossing is to me, a game that feels like an old friend, a safe space that you can return to every day and one that lets you unwind and be yourself.

Animal Crossing is for me, the manifestation of an interactive space that embodies the notion of “me time”.

And with every video, I didn’t want to stream my “me time” anymore.

I had to make a decision if I wanted to continue. That decision hurt.

Continued in Part 3 —>

Interactive Media, Augmented Reality, and Entertainment systems allow me to create interactions that reignite childlike curiosity and wonder in players!