Game/Life Balance U.S. welcomes guest contributors to share their perspectives on trends and specific subjects related to video games, the gaming industry, and finding a balance between games and “real life.”
As if juggling a passion for video games and our daily responsibilities wasn’t tough enough already, today we have the temptation of streaming to contend with.
Whether you’re a broadcaster or a viewer, streaming services like Twitch have given gaming a new dimension and made it easier than ever to get involved, but where can you find the time?
The solution comes down to game choice. If you want to launch your own stream or simply find one you can watch regularly, you have a few routes to go down.
For story-focused games, it’s best to pick a something that can be broken up into episodic chunks with natural stopping points, or a game that gives you a lot of control over when you can save your progress, leave and pick it up again without disrupting the playing experience.
For competitive multiplayer games, shorter match-times are key, as they let you jump right into the action and take a break whenever your time is up.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at four games that are ideal for short streaming sessions.
The critically acclaimed follow-up to Psyonix’s extravagantly-named “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars,” it’s not hard to see why Rocket League boasted more than 40 million active players at the start of 2018.
The premise is beautifully simple; up to 8 players are split into two teams and given rocket-powered vehicles to score points by knocking a ball into each other’s net. Think soccer, but fast-paced, frantic and with more explosions.
Psyonix have continued to update the game with new play modes, seasonal competitions, and options to modify the game’s physics, dramatically expanding the game’s replayability and, with matches lasting just five minutes, Rocket League is perfect for squeezing in some playtime.
Rocket League isn’t just great to stream; its format and popularity mean it’s become huge in the esports scene, so there’s no shortage of professional matches to follow and learn from.
While not every gamer may have dabbled with Sid Meier’s Civilization series, you can guarantee they’ve all heard of it. Currently, on its sixth installment, the turn-based 4X strategy series has been enrapturing players since 1991.
While the gameplay and graphics have obviously seen major improvements since its inception, the basic premise has remained the same. Choose an ancient civilization from the annals of history and compete with real or computer-controlled players to evolve your society from an early settlement into a global superpower.
There are numerous routes to victory, allowing you to decide whether to influence the world as a cultural powerhouse, reach for the stars as a technological giant, or crush your opponents through military domination, but Civilization is all about the journey.
The Civilization series is great for short streams, as you can effectively end your session after any turn; however, you should be forewarned just how addicting the gameplay can be; there’s a reason its players coined the phrase “One More Turn Syndrome.”
The Hitman series is another with a long history of consistently innovative games, maintaining strong critical reception through every installment.
The games do vary slightly in their structure and 2016’s installment is probably the best suited for assassinating targets in short session due to its episodic nature.
On the surface, Square Enix have presented the game as a linear story but, truthfully, the backstory and tenuous links between each level are superfluous.
While each level tasks you with eliminating one or more individuals, there are dozens of paths to their demise, making it worth exploring every option to reach your goal.
Optional targets and bonus modifiers give Hitman excellent replay value, and completionists will be able to pick the game’s bones clean for hours.
Not many games manage to combine such depth with innovative gameplay and short play sessions, but this one manages to tick all the boxes.
Set in the World of Warcraft universe, Hearthstone is an online, free-to-play collectible card game that pits two players and their 30-card decks against each other to be the last man standing.
While Hearthstone does offer in-game purchases of new card packs, Blizzard have gone to great lengths to maintain playability for those who don’t wish to spend cash on the game, and players can earn gold through victory to buy new sets and expansions.
The game is another to have blown up in the realm of esports, with prize pots reaching $1million and regular tournaments being streamed online. Hearthstone is great for gamers short on time, as matches tend to last an average of ten minutes, with a 90 turn limit to prevent them from dragging on for too long.
On top of that, it’s also available on mobile devices with cross-platform support, so you can always squeeze in a quick session on your lunch break.
As a viewer, finding streams that fit your busy schedule is as simple as finding an engaging broadcaster who understands how to create bite-sized sessions of appropriate games; however, if you’re streaming yourself, there are a few more things you can do to grow your Twitch channel while using your time efficiently.
Create a streaming schedule and stick to it; if you want to attract a loyal audience then they need to know when you’ll be online, and it also makes it much easier to manage your own time.
Additionally, many streamers spend hours fiddling around with overlay setups and features, but there are some fantastic free Twitch overlay options online worth exploring that will take care of the hard work for you, giving you more time to focus on the fun part; playing video games.
Streaming is not an exact science, so getting the balance right may take time, but with the right game choice, careful time-management and a pinch of self-discipline you can effectively fit streaming into your lifestyle, no matter how hectic it may be.
Evan Kaden is a rare breed of freelance writers who, believe it or not, doesn’t drink coffee! As a writer and hardcore gamer, Evan is thankful for the many opportunities he’s been given to express his passion for the gaming industry. Currently playing through the new God of War and loving every minute of it.