I’m so glad that you could join me today.
The Bob Ross phenomenon is truly an entrancing and confusing beast. For those of you who do not understand, your life is about to become much brighter. Ready? So twitch is releasing a new ‘creative’ section under which your stream can be categorised. The ‘creative’ section is a directory under which people can stream their nerdy-but-not-necessarily-actual-gaming efforts, such as creating fanart or working on concept art for upcoming games. The release of it happens to coincide with Bob Ross’ birthday, so to celebrate all 400+ episodes of ‘The Joy of Painting’ have been streamed at twitch.tv/bobross . And we, twitch, have fallen in love with it. The stream was easily picking up 60,000 concurrent viewers per episode and sailed past 100,000 with the final episode. In fact, it was such a successful happy accident that twitch has bought the licensing to stream the show regularly on Mondays, bringing a whole host of Bob Ross inspired emotes with it. Not to mention the fantastic efforts of twitter parody accounts, such as the wonderful @FGC_Bob_Ross
There’s no such thing as a dropped combo, just a happy little reset.
— FGC Bob Ross (@FGC_Bob_Ross) October 29, 2015
What can we learn from Bob?
Now, I’m no sap. Green as I am when it comes to twitch, I was able to identify some things which the world of twitch was able to adore in Bob Ross. And in it, I think we are all able to learn from Bob Ross and consider adopting his style and mindset, not just into our livestreams but into our lifestyles. After all, the most important part of any stream is the person running it – what they’re like, their mannerisms, etc. First of all, I think Dan Teasdale from @deliciousbees on twitter summed it up best: “Twitch Chat on one side, Bob Ross calmly painting on the other. The unstoppable force meets an immovable object”. Bob Ross is so unique, and an antithesis to so much of twitch that even with his mild mannerisms, he stands out. Bob Ross doesn’t look to compete or ‘git gud’. So much of twitch streaming has to do with trying to meet some otherwise-arbitrary standards set by the game we play, and emotions run high when we fail. Bob however has painted a rock. It’s real pretty I tell ya. Competitive streamer xxButtsMonkey420xx has just got sniped as he spawned and now he is ranting at the viewers about how games suck and his opponents are “fagits”. Bob Ross is feeding a squirrel in his pocket. Variety/entertainment streamer FAZEpoopsmear69 has just made his 11th sex joke in 5 minutes. Bob Ross is telling us that Alaskan trees are pretty neat. Bob Ross does not fit in. But when someone as big as Bob Ross does not fit in, they stand out. It’s not intimidating, it’s just a delight to behold. There’s no pressure, we just relax and let it happen.
Now, Bob Ross is not the perfect streamer. For one thing, he has the disadvantage of having been dead for 20 years. He also does not seem to read the chat. Well I say we’ve got to give him a friend. Like I always say, ‘everyone needs a friend’. As he ignores the tides of ‘RUINED’ that drown out the twitch chat, he sets an example of how we can behave on our own streams. For one, his relaxed nature is incredible. Some streamers exude energy when they stream, and that’s fine. However, some don’t, and that is fine too. For those that don’t, Bob Ross demonstrates the perfect streaming technique. The dulcet tones of his voice go a long way to soothe people who listen, and the happy little world of Bob Ross is just an enjoyable place to be regardless of the content. If your average twitch stream is cocaine, Bob Ross is marijuana, and he can simulate that with an atmosphere which we too can replicate. Bob never reads chat, but it certainly feels like he is conversational. Things he says resonate with us all. Genuine, friendly interaction with the stream as well as a calming atmosphere can go a long way in making new viewers not only enjoy themselves, but feel accepted and welcomed in the world.
You control the message, You build your world
The fact is that we as streamers are responsible for everything we broadcast. We have the power to affect the lives of everyone who watches. If we make someone feel happy today, they may be more confident later, and with that confidence get a job, and with that job pay for education, and with that education become a doctor, and as a doctor save lives, etc etc. Too often we underestimate the potential impact which we can have on the world, but the fact of the matter is the reach of our influence goes far and has impossibly unpredictable consequences. Didn’t you know you had that much power? Bob Ross lived as an example of a world he’d want to live in, and we could aim to do the same. When you’re a smaller streamer, you may be tempted to allow that one viewer to get away with saying things like ‘rape’, ‘retard’ or racial slurs. “It’s not worth the effort to confront them”, you tell yourself. But we do not know how much influence these negative words have. While internet veterans may be desensitised to that kind of language, it may still be one of the main barriers keeping women, minorities or other demographics out of gaming. It actually takes very little effort to tell someone to please refrain from using that kind of language. In most cases they will do so, so why not do it? You can do anything you want to do. This is your world. Do you honestly want to have a world which is off-putting for legions of people? We can all shape our stream. And really there is no valid excuse not to.
Embracing your style
Our final lesson from Bob Ross is something that we can strive for in our real life as well as our streaming, something a bit more permanent. Read the rest of this article and it seems up your street? Well good. It’s probably the hardest part to adopt in terms of mindset. Bob Ross sees everything as a mixture of learning and experimentation. There is no hard and fast goal, there is no need to win at something. I think, for some people at least, we should try that too. It does not suit everyone, some people need the direction given to them by goals or else they go nowhere. But for some, the constant revisionist ideas of Bob Ross – just trying to learn by doing — will be a great way that naturally fits into your approach to streaming. A lot of people on twitch will be put off if they feel like their chat or their gameplay has to be up to a certain standard. And of course, that isn’t always true, there are some standards where you’ll be happy to welcome anyone at all. If you’re focusing too much on being the best you possibly can and always capitalising on your gaming skill, it can be alienating for a lot of viewers on twitch. People who are new to the game or just generally bad at games may feel intimidated and like they are unwelcome in this ‘elite society’. People who are excellent at the game will have contempt for how your kills per life are tragically only single digits. For some streamers this is fine, people who want to compete in their games have to suffer this as a trade-off for the extra views you’ll get just for being great at the game. But for some of us it serves no purpose and is an attitude we can eliminate from our lives not just for the sake of streaming but for the sake of carrying around less stress in our day to day existence.
This is not hard and fast advice. As I’ve tried to point out, some people do not suit the ‘Bob Ross style’ and that is okay. However you think it should be, that’s exactly how it should be. However there is a reason that so many people gravitate to Bob Ross and I am not entirely convinced it’s just his hair.
Now, I think that’s it for this article. I guess I’ll just sign it, call it finished, and I look forward to seeing you again. Happy streaming, God bless.