Twitch is an interactive streaming service that has given thousands of people notoriety as far as gaming goes. We know and watch many professional Twitch streamers, but what really goes on behind the scenes? It's not all fame and fortune and while streaming is an exciting habit to have, there are many rules that accompany it. These are rules put in place to protect not only the streamer themselves but to protect those who are tuning in and watching, too. It's all recorded live, so there's no way to backtrack or fix a mistake that's made on-air. This has caused many problems and brought to question whether or not streamers should need to follow the rules that have been set in place.
While many are just common sense, others are unspoken suggestions for streamers who want to continue widening their audience. Not everything on this list is a hard and fast rule but if a streamer doesn't follow it, they could be looking at a significant drop in viewers or a least a poor reputation on Twitch. Things such as games on the "banned games list" or any hate speech, curse words, etc., could result in termination or suspension. However, there are some rules that are a bit tougher to follow, like responding to a viewer who enjoys egging gamers on. This doesn't mean the rules are always followed, but Twitch makes a valiant effort to uphold them. Some streamers have actually made a living out of their serious love for gaming, so let's take a look at what they need to do in order to keep their livelihoods while supporting an ever-growing channel.
Obviously, no streamer has the right to give away the personal information of anyone whether it be a friend or another fellow streamer. Additionally, streamers are not allowed to give away their own personal information, either. We're not sure why you'd want to in the first place, but according to Twitch's community guidelines, this is a hard and fast rule that streamers must follow. In order to keep their channel unaffected, many streamers will avoid personal topics altogether... Probably for the best.
Twitch isn't a place where streamers can show off the new outfit they've just purchased off a trendy site. It's also not a place viewers go to see inappropriate streaming, which is why guidelines specifically state that all streamers must be dressed modestly and in a way that would be age-appropriate to everyone. There's no age limit for viewers on Twitch, which is why it must remain PG-rated for the most part. You never know who's lurking in a live chat and you could have a room full of viewers over 21 or less than 14.
By "negative way," we mean anything that involves calling out a viewer. Regardless of what a viewer may be saying—whether they're intentionally egging on a streamer or just trash-talking—a streamer is not permitted to retaliate. The best and more effective thing a streamer can do is either close their live chat or report the account responsible.
Responding to a viewer at all can end up turning into a dispute, something Twitch desperately tries to avoid.
It's tough to keep quiet, but it's the mature thing to do.
This is a big no-no when it comes to streaming. Some streamers have found that they can add "donation buttons," which can ultimately turn some viewers off. When it comes down to it, unless a streamer has a solid reputation, viewers are there to watch someone else play a video game. They're not logging onto an account to donate money or tip a gamer who's not well-known, and it's certainly not impressive asking for them to do so. This can be much more hurtful than it is helpful.
Twitch does have a "banned games list," which includes most games that feature a highly adult nature. Streamers are cautioned against choosing games to stream that have a strong nature in general, such as strong gore or sensitive trigger topics. Ultimately, it's up to the streamer to decide and they have the option to stamp a warning label on the stream prior to going live. However, as far as banned games go, there's no way around it—if these games are streamed, it goes against Twitch's guidelines.
Surprisingly, Twitch streamers are not permitted to use their personal accounts to promote others, whether it's another person or a particular product. This can result in breaching non-compete clauses and Twitch has simplified things by preventing streamers to do this in any form. It's not likely that viewers will ever hear a streamer saying, "head over to so-and-so's account," because they're really not allowed to do that. Additionally, they're not permitted to promote products that they use... Asking a streamer what they use is different, of course, from them persuading viewers to purchase it.
It seems that everything has a copyright law nowadays, from Instagram to YouTube and everything in between. Twitch follows these same rules, as any social media site will, and for good reason. Any song or video that's playing in the background of a stream, especially a popular and paid-for stream, will likely result in a copyright battle. If no recognition is given to the content used, this can quickly turn into legality as the streamer has not given credit for sources they're using in the live stream.
Obviously, a streamer is not permitted to promote another competing site to promote themselves or others.
Mentioning their own social media is one thing, but pushing it on the viewers is another thing entirely.
Streamers must remain loyal to Twitch and their live streams without adding competition from other sites or sharing content that can be found on other sites. This wouldn't be smart for a streamer, either; viewers would likely head to other sources and viewership would decrease as a result.
No one appreciates spoilers and Twitch is extremely strict on this. Some professional streamers do have access to game content and demos before the actual game is released and it can be tempting to raise viewership by streaming it. This is a severe breach of Twitch's guidelines and can result in serious consequences. Some games have taken precautions against this, such as Atlus with the release of Persona 5—gamers will notice that recording gameplay has been blocked throughout the entirety of the game.
This is not a written law by Twitch, but it is a highly respected unspoken guideline put in place by both viewers and streamers. Viewers trust their favorite streamers enough to not call them out if they're "lurking," an otherwise poor name for those who enter a stream simply to watch and not to interact. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this as some people may just have anxiety or shy away from interaction, but a problem arises when streamers call out someone's username for doing it.
Another guideline that has been put in place by viewers, but it's one that many streamers respect. Greeter bots are known for greeting those who enter a stream so that the streamer doesn't need to do it themselves. While this is thoughtful in a way—such as when someone enters a stream mid-gameplay—it's also highly impersonal and can be rather annoying. Many viewers discourage this simply because they want a human and personal experience, not a purely robotic one.
It's highly frowned upon when streamers waste time doing things other than what they've promised they'll do. Gaming is what most viewers log onto Twitch to watch, which is why a streamer who takes up 30 minutes talking or droning on about something completely random can be a turn-off.
This aggravates viewers and will definitely result in a decrease in viewership, preventing anyone's channel from getting off the ground.
Additionally, it's a huge letdown for those who were promised gameplay.
Calling donations "donations" rather than tips is something that many viewers request streamers don't do. Donation goals are cautioned against unless a streamer is completing a challenge for the sake of their viewers. Donation goals in regular gameplay just don't make sense, since viewers are not gaining anything from it. Anything such as a speedrun, critical mode, platinum, etc., is a respectable reason for donations. A regular gameplay stream requesting donations just comes off as impersonal and desperate, while also being distracting.
No one wants to watch that person in a live chat. Streamers are not permitted to enter another streamer's channel, regardless of their personal status, to promote themselves. This isn't just frowned upon, it actually goes against the guidelines of the site. Self-promotion through another's account is not allowed and can be of the highest annoyance to viewers who are attending a weekly stream. It's also incredibly inconsiderate and can annoy the owner of the channel, whether they're aware of your presence or not.
Spamming anything is off-limits when it comes to Twitch. Professional streamers have strict guidelines to follow when it comes to maintaining an honest and permittable channel. Allowing viewers to use spam words in a live chat goes against guidelines and is incredibly annoying to others viewing the stream. A streamer who allows this to happen without reporting or blocking an account is just as responsible for the spamming since they don't take the necessary actions to remove it. Spam belongs in a can, not in a live chat.
Steamer pictured: Tofusenshi
This was touched on earlier, but debating with a viewer is definitely bad news bears. Streamers are not permitted to interact negatively with their audience, no matter what's being said.
This could result in a poor reputation for the streamer as well as suspension of an account if things get heated.
It's all too easy for a streamer to slip and say something inappropriate, which could mean their reputation and channel are both on the line. Additionally, permitting someone to continue speaking negatively in a channel without booting them is just as bad.
Not only will a streamer be known as the person who ruined a game for people, but it could result in a negative view of their channel as a whole. Most people notice that streamers will go to YouTube when new games come out rather than Twitch immediately because viewers will have the option to watch a YouTube video on their own time. By broadcasting live on stream, viewers are more likely to accidentally have a game spoiled simply because they've chosen to watch a weekly stream.
Eating anything while streaming isn't the greatest idea. While nutrition is important, it's not something that viewers log onto Twitch to watch. Additionally, streamers might not realize how they appear on camera as they're wolfing down an entire sandwich. It's pretty unattractive for viewers to watch and also takes up a significant amount of time. If a streamer has their mic turned up, this can also result in a less than pleasant experience for all those listening in, too... Go off-camera for lunch instead.
It's pretty frowned upon for a streamer to spout on about their own popularity on their own channel. This is viewed negatively by everyone and viewers will even request that a streamer avoid doing this, for the sake of maintaining their own dignity. It can be distracting from the actual stream and will also alert viewers to the fact that the streamer only cares about how many people are logged onto their channel. It's encouraged that nothing is said while the streamer is live.
This should be common sense, but some people just can't help it. What a streamer makes from their own stream is personal—at least it should be, anyway. This isn't something that should be discussed while live streaming, nor is it anything that anyone outside of the streamer themselves should be aware of. What Twitch pays their professional streamers is a contract between the streamers and Twitch, and that shouldn't be invalidated in any way, shape, or form... Even if a viewer requests to know.
Some streamers might not even realize that something in their background is offensive. This is why many professional streamers will have either a specific room dedicated to their streaming space or refuse to have any background at all.
Any type of posters, references, or banners can come off as offensive without a streamer realizing it.
Additionally, this could come off as a promotion, which is also not allowed on a Twitch stream. Many backgrounds will be devoid of anything, regardless of the streamer's interests.
It's perfectly fine to critique a game, especially when playing it for the first time or trying to convey something to the viewers who are watching. However, it's not okay to put down another gamer, or a game, for that matter, without a legitimate reason. Promoting negativity for no apparent reason can result in low viewership but can also result in problems with Twitch, if viewers complain about it enough. Streamers must be cognizant of what they say and how they say it in order to maintain a respected channel.
This falls under the guideline of personal information since, in order to request gifts, viewers must have an address to send them to. While this is perfectly fine and dandy to do on YouTube with a streamer's personal channel, it's not okay to do on Twitch.
Twitch exists for one purpose only: To promote gaming, a skill, or hobby.
It doesn't exist to enable streamers to gain monetary or physical items through their views, and shouldn't be based on what a streamer can find in their mailbox.
It's rare to find a streamer who openly flings around explicit language, mainly because Twitch doesn't allow it. While personal streamers can do what they want with few viewers noticing, professional streamers have a reputation to uphold.
This means that cursing is a no-go, considering there's no way of knowing who's watching and what age they are.
Twitch doesn't allow offensive language and this is an absolute rule that streamers must follow. Occasionally, things will slip out—but it can't become a habit.
Streamers are not allowed to determine what type of audience they reach. While particular interests can factor into the audience they draw, they're not permitted to publically declare that they want their audience to be a certain demographic. Streams must be all-inclusive, regardless of who the streamer feels comfortable speaking to or gaming in front of. Streams can attract a random crowd and this is something that a streamer is powerless against unless a viewer is openly offensive or starting trouble.