Infamous for its Kappas and Keepos, twitch.tv has stormed onto the entertainment scene as the platform of choice for video game and entertainment live streamers. With live streaming market share at 43% and the fourth largest internet traffic during peak hours (after only Netflix, Apple, and Google), twitch.tv and its community are redefining modern video entertainment. Part of the platform’s success can be attributed to twitch streamers’ early adoption of chatbots, which provide them with social and moderating tools that aid in the crafting of ideal stream environments.
Traditionally chatbots on twitch have acted as moderators, social interactivity points, or some combination of the two. Common bots that fit within this definition include Moobot, Nightbot, Deepbot, and Ankhbot among others. Bots can remove unwanted content from twitch chat, report the playing song to interested viewers, and otherwise maintain or optimize the content within a stream’s chat.
The limited definition of chatbots as either social or moderating tools has expanded within the last few years, primarily due to the emergence of perhaps the highest profile trend to hit twitch; TwitchPlaysPokemon and TwitchPlays streams. TwitchPlaysPokemon utilizes a chatbot that inputs emulator commands based on what stream viewers have entered in chat, effectively creating a third type of chatbot; gameplay chatbots. Gameplay chatbots fall loosely within the social chatbot category, but their feature set differs from standard social bots. Instead of connecting viewers to a streamer, gameplay chatbots give viewers control over the stream’s gameplay and environment.
Many people have developed their own gameplay chatbots inspired by TwitchPlaysPokemon. These bots use Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to send commands from twitch chat to a program of their choice. Typically the programs are input systems used to relay commands to a game emulator. Classic games have been those most commonly equipped with gameplay chatbots due to a combination of nostalgia, streaming delays, and community play.
Inspired by the potential of gameplay chatbots, we have expanded the functionality of a popular gameplay chatbot to allow for additional entertainment opportunities. The result is a gameplay chatbot that connects twitch chat to arduino controlled servos, that creates a chat message log within a csv file, and that allows streamers to turn chat interactivity on and off without quitting out of their chatbot program.
Our expanded functionality gameplay chatbot contains the feature set streamers are used to, but allows for greater experimentation. For example, streamers using our chatbot could activate a physical donation or subscriber response in addition to responses on the stream’s overlay. Upon receiving a donation, streamers could configure our gameplay chatbot to wave a small flag, fire a nerf dart, or cause a 3-D printed statue to take a bow. With the data collection feature, streamers can track when chat is most engaged in their stream, what types of interaction they most frequently request, and how active specific users are. Finally, if streamers desire to cease receiving gameplay input from chat, they can shut down their chat’s gameplay chatbot without pausing their data collection.
The functionality we added to an available gameplay chatbot provides ample ground for additional experimentation. We believe expanding upon our work could further increase the entertainment value of gameplay chatbots on twitch, and provide streamers an additional tool for interfacing with their chat.