Twitch's Stream First turns livestream viewers into participants

Live streaming has become quite the trend these days. While we now stream live events, like sports, concerts, and political debates, the activity really has its roots in gaming. was at the forefront of that new movement, becoming the de facto place for live streaming games. Now that live streaming is more or less an established activity, it wants to stir things up a bit. It has just revealed its Stream First initiative which not only puts streaming front and center, it also turns it into a collaborative activity.

Live streaming already has its advantages over traditional live broadcast coverage. Live stream viewers can usually chat among themselves, sometimes interacting directly with hosts. In some instances, they could also influence the outcome of, say, a game or an interview.

Twitch wants to take that and make it into a more standard feature. With Stream First, it wants to give developers services and tools to make live streaming a first class citizen in their game's feature list. But more than just built-in live streaming, Stream First is also suggesting some rather novel ways viewers can interact in those live streams, as exemplified by the first games that will be showcasing this new idea.

Wastelanders from Schell Games might look like a normal turn-based strategy game played over a chess board, but the real pull will be who the pieces are. Yes, who, not what. Broadcasters, practically two because it's a one-on-one game, take on the role of warlords that get to pick their solitary hero. The viewers, however, also get to participate in the game. Viewers for each broadcaster can enlist as warriors and while the warlords (broadcasters) ultimately decide what move to make, the viewers can influence those decisions as well.

Superfight is yet another wacky game that can probably be described as a superhero pissing contest on steroids. Again, broadcasters are naturally the main players of the game but viewers will also have a say in the outcome. Each player (broadcaster) creates their own "superhero" from mishmash of attributes randomly drawn from a virtual deck of cards. The players then debate on the livestream who would win in a superhero face off. Ultimately, however, the viewers' votes decide the champion. It is pretty much a debating game, come to think of it. Just with ridiculous super powers.

Streamline is described as a fast-paced third person multiplayer action game that belies the insanity of its game rules. Rules that are actually subject to the whim of the viewers. While the core gameplay does carry out in a more conventional death match game, with the broadcaster playing the only character that can own a weapon, viewers can make the game more interesting, or harder, by voting on rule changes. They can, for example, collectively agree to turn the floor into lava or force everyone in-game to walk like a crab for a period of time.

These are definitely very interesting ideas and an admittedly innovative use of the fanbase that has grown around game live streaming. If Twitch manages to pull this off, it could once again establish itself as the king of live streaming, widening the gap from new rivals like YouTube.

VIA: The Verge