This post follows part one of our look at the influence content creators have in the Star Citizen universe – both in the in-game universe and with the develops. If you are a content creator in any form, I would encourage you to read Part One as it discusses and explores some best practices, common pitfalls, and encourages a productive relationship between creators and the developers. One last note before we begin: today’s post is not meant to be a profound or unique discussion, instead, it is intended to generate some creative thinking and interaction within the community.
While there are a great many benefits of being an active streamer, YouTuber, or any other type of content creator within any community, there are some distinct disadvantages that result due to the public and open nature of the platforms – especially for the live streamers. Live streamers tend to share their location, actions, and thoughts in near realtime as they explore and engage in the game world which results in some interesting situations and gameplay dynamics. If we were to think about content creators as objects in a solar system, we could compare and liken their popularity to gravity. Thus, the more massive or popular a content creator is, the more gravity they generate and the more ‘activity’ they attract due to their size. In other words, one could expect a large streamer or YouTuber with a large following to have their every move and action watched with intrigue and interest.
As has been famously and hilarious displayed in many live streams, stream snipers (those who follow streamers around in-game for various reasons) can significantly impact the ability of the streamer to play the game. In a game like Star Citizen where your assets are persistence and exist between play sessions, there is an increased risk for streamers compared to those streamers who play first-person shooters that reset after every match. Unfortunately, live streamers are going to quickly discover that sharing their location and information to any sized audience will attract attention they may not want. Some viewers may follow around and engage streamers to be helpful (this is the most ideal situation), but many will arguably stalk and pursue streamers to seek attention and interrupt the streamer’s gameplay.
If I think about these interactions from a nefarious perspective, I can imagine a scenario where a popular streamer pays their closest friends and trusted allies to harass other streamers in-game as an effort to disrupt their ability to play the game and attract viewers. You could think of this as ‘purely business’ where the streamer does not want their competition to succeed, but a streamer would likely face community backlash if they were to be discovered engaging in such a plot. Unfortunately, this is a reality that all streamers face as organizations and bands of players alike can seek out live streams and attack the hosts with impunity. Combine this possibility with the recent scandals in games like Fortnite, where stream sniping is considered a bannable offense, and streamers could react harshly on-stream and demand their viewers retaliate against any organization or player that happens to stumble upon the streamer. I am worried about how this situation may impact the community and create drama as players and organizations may find themselves caught in an unfortunate situation by no fault of their own.
Imagine your organization of ten people are currently mining in an asteroid belt and happen to run across an unknown player whom you quickly engage and destroy so that you have the asteroid belt to yourself – it was nothing personal. Your group of ten runs the risk of drawing the attention of the other person’s organization, but they may not care too much about one member’s unfortunate experience unless they are close by or bored. However, if your group happened to kill a popular streamer unbeknownst to yourselves, you may quickly find a horde of players quickly descending on your location seeking to exact revenge on you and your group due to the streamer’s death. Furthermore, you may find yourselves plastered on Reddit and Spectrum as ‘stream snipers’ who should be blacklisted. You and your friends may have meant no harm and no ill-will, but you could quickly find yourselves in a ‘trial of public opinion’ and are ostracized by a portion of the community as a result.
This scenario of revenge could absolutely occur with a non-streamer as an organization seeks revenge for its members, but it is a far more likely occurrence for those who come into contact with streamers simply due to the high-profile nature of the interaction. Even if a streamer does not comment on those who engage and destroyed their mining efforts, the streamer’s viewers will likely arrive shortly to the scene having witnessed the death of their supreme leader (okay, fine, the streamer they prefer). As such, it is my view that interactions with and around streamers will remain extremely volatile and unpredictable – a situation I endeavor to avoid unless I am trying to cause problems. These scenarios should also cause organizations who have members that are popular streamers to be cautious considering the potential that an ‘upset streamer’ could start a conflict or war with an opposing group out of spite.
Pushing the organization point further, as a streamer’s popularity rises within an organization, there is the distinct possibility that they will use that influence to either gain control of the organization or fracture away from it and create their own while pulling many members with them. This is not to say the streamer has good or bad intentions at all. It is merely a warning and reality that comes with individuals who have influence which is partially why many streamers and influential community content creators tend, but not always, to create and operate their own organizations to avoid the tricky relationships that can come from being a member of an organization.
The potential situations that will arise surrounding streamers and content creators are endless as they draw attention to themselves and gameplay mechanics and locations that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. I am eager to see how the in-game universe interacts with and incorporates streamers and, specifically, how streamers adapt to the challenges of being a player whose location is generally always known. There is not much need to carry on this discussion too greatly at this point in time until the persistent universe comes into being, so, until then!
Before we close this discussion, I do want to add one final consideration for those of you who are still with me: live streams are a perfectly wrapped present of intelligence as it offers real-time information on players locations and intentions. Concurrently, new and low viewer count streamers will provide a particularly insightful view into various organizations actions and communications as they are less likely to be ‘tight-lipped’ regarding their gameplay due to their assumed lack of visibility. For anyone willing to spend some time each week keeping tabs on various streamers, there is a plethora of information available for you to discover. Personally, I am not going to waste my time doing this as the number of hours of video I might have to go through to find a meaningful piece of information could be massive (for those hardcore folks out there, have at it). However, taking a quick glance at what everyone is doing every now and then can keep even the most disengaged players and organizations aware of new trends in the universe.