Last week, on the Boardgame Opinions channel, we ran our first livestream. It was Mark’s idea. It seems to be becoming more and more popular. Video gaming seems to be driving it, but there are a decent number of channels livestreaming boardgames as well now.
I had my doubts. Would people really want to watch us playing a boardgame? In the end I just thought, “What the heck? Even if no one watches, we’ll still have fun!”
Well, much to my surprise, people really did watch. And commented. The interaction with the people watching is something I’ve never really experienced before and made the whole experience so engaging! Let me tell you about it…
First of all, I’ll tell you now, from a technology point of view, livestreaming is challenging! Mark had come to the studio on a previous evening to test all the equipment with me.
You really need at least two cameras: one to see the people playing and one overhead view to see the game up close. Then you need microphones. Good quality audio makes a big difference.
All of this then needs to run into one beefy computer, with a good internet connection to collate all the video and audio and send it to YouTube in one consistent stream. Believe me, there is a lot that can go wrong here!
Well we managed to make it through the test evening fairly well and got everything working nicely by the end. On the night of the actual livestream, we got to the studio an hour before the stream was due to start to set up the game and make sure all the equipment was okay. It took every minute of that hour to get in a position to hit the “Go Live” button!
We use Streamlabs OBS to control all the video/audio sources and it worked really well. It makes it very easy to switch between cameras, alter mic volumes, add “Starting soon” slides and much more. As long as you put the work in beforehand to set it all up properly!
The game we decided to play (after much discussion!) was Pandemic: Iberia. It’s my favourite version of Pandemic. As someone who’s played a lot of Pandemic over the years, it still manages to feel fresh. Crucially for us though, it’s co-operative.
Why does that matter? What we really wanted was an opportunity to interact with the people who normally watch our videos. If we play a competitive game where we’re each making our own decisions, it’s difficult for the viewer to really get involved.
The beauty of a co-operative game is that people can see what we’re doing and say, “Wait! You should do this!” Mark and I were by no means experts at the game. Mark had never played it before and I always seem to lose!
So we tried to say, “This might be a good idea… maybe?” and then invite people to help out. And help out they did – it was great! There were other random conversations going on in the comments and people would ask questions, but the ability to interact with people during the video was so refreshing.
Steve had to work at The Dice Cup (our local boardgame cafe) that night, but even he watched on the cafe’s computer and was commenting when he could.
The game itself also went really well. It was super tight towards the end
(as it always is) and I really thought we weren’t going to make it, but a couple of inspirational moments from Mark and the viewers (I take no credit) and we won! Woohoo!
Another benefit of livestreaming is that there is no video editing to do afterwards. It just becomes available for anyone to watch after you’ve finished. Video editing can be very time consuming, so this was greatly appreciated!
We were so enthused afterwards that we’ve planned our next livestream already. As a way to engage with people and work collaboratively on something, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Do you like watching livestreams? Do you enjoy interacting with the people in the video?