Interactive Video Game Live-Streaming
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Lately, user-generated video game live-streams have exploded in popularity and become a common source of entertainment. As a result, video game live-streaming has attracted increased attention as a research area. In recent years, there have been several studies focused on how to drive engagement and enhance the audience experience in gaming live-streams by applying different types of interaction mechanisms. However, there is of yet little research that investigates the usage of interaction mechanisms for directly influencing the game that is being streamed. Meanwhile, tools to implement such mechanisms are available, and some applications of this have already been demonstrated. There are strong indications that both viewers and streamers desire such interaction mechanisms. However, due to the nature of how today’s streaming services operate and their limitations, designing these types of mechanisms comes with a number of challenges tied to stream delay, arbitrary number of viewers, and user interface design. As of today, there are not yet any established best practices on how to overcome these challenges while retaining an engaging audience experience. Therefore, the main goal of this research is to investigate how to achieve an engaging audience experience in scenarios where viewers of gaming live-streams can influence the game that is being played directly through an interface on the stream, with a large focus on the aforementioned challenges. To achieve this, I used an iterative approach, first performing a preliminary design exploration study, where I designed and implemented three different interaction mechanisms, and then a second evaluation study, where experts evaluated the mechanisms. The mechanism types were majority vote with discrete options, heatmaps, and interface around interactive items. All of these interaction mechanisms showed promising results, with varying potential for enhancing the viewer experience depending on their execution. Interface around interactive items seemed to be the mechanism that yielded the best results overall, with the highest chance of having a positive impact on the audience experience. The research suggests that interactions where viewers do not expect instant reactions can be highly effective for compensating for delays, and clear communication of the game state can be helpful. Exploiting the crowd mentality by creating situations where viewers are incentivized to work together towards a common goal can also be effective, both for accommodating for different audience sizes and for masking the delay. The user interface should be clear, understandable, and intuitive, with relevant feedback and instructions provided. Overall, interactive overlays seem to have the potential to significantly increase the viewer experience in gaming live-streams, especially if the interface is well-designed and does not detract from the gameplay.