Episode 22: The Uncharted World of Video Gaming in Higher Ed Marketing

Episode 22: The Uncharted World of Video Gaming in Higher Ed Marketing
Season 1

 
 
00:00 / 45:06
 
1X

Can video gaming and the popularity of live-streaming games be used in higher ed marketing? Andrew Cassel talks us through leveling up our marketing skills.

Episode 22: The Uncharted World of Video Gaming in Higher Ed Marketing
Season 1

 
 
00:00 / 45:06
 
1X

Andrew Cassel joins the podcast to talk about his experiments in Twitch streaming for higher education marketing. We touch on everything from how to do it to the effects on lifecycle management for institutions.

The Uncharted World of Video Gaming in Higher Ed Marketing Transcript

Andrew Cassel: I’ll intro. Welcome to the podcast with Jon-Stephen and Joel with this week’s guest is Andrew Cassel. And we’re talking about Twitch. Welcome, Andrew. Thank you so much, Joel and Jon-Stephen for having me.

Intro music plays

Joel Goodman: Welcome to the thought feeder podcast. I am Joel Goodman with me as always is the somewhat-rushed-for-time, Jon-Stephen Stansel. We’re so excited to have Andrew Cassel, the social content strategist from Middlebury College with us today to talk about something that higher ed rarely talks about and that’s Twitch!

Andrew Cassel: Oh, I thought you were going to say mental health but it’s Twitch that we’re talking about.

Joel Goodman: That’s another episode. We’ve gotta plan for that one. Uh, but yeah, Twitch and I think also it’s kind of just, it’s more like emerging media platforms really, but we’re going to focus around Twitch. But I think this conversation has wider implications for how higher ed approaches new ways to communicate and engage their audiences.

And we’re super excited to have you here, Andrew. Thanks for coming on the show.

Andrew Cassel: Thank you very much. Um, this is a topic that’s really close to my heart, and I’m really excited to talk about it with two of the leading minds in higher ed social media. If it’s okay for me to say that. Can you kiss the ass of the hosts? I think that’s part of what you’re supposed to do on a podcast.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Leave us a review

Joel Goodman: J.S. is definitely a leading mind. but uh, yeah.

Andrew Cassel: Hey, he has had his tweets screenshotted and reshared. I think, as he will himself say you’ve made it when that

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And plagiarized, so. Always a lot of fun.

Joel Goodman: He’s had the LinkedIn crossover from people stealing his tweets as well. So yeah, he’s been plagiarized on LinkedIn.

Andrew Cassel: Um, yeah, so Twitch is great. I play video games, myself and, as I was, uh, I was watching, a live stream of Doctor Who, because Twitch is more than just games, they have a lot of like regular television shows and broadcasts that they do on there. And then as I was watching this Doctor Who stream on Twitch, people, because Doctor Who exists out there on your DVDs, or you can watch it on streaming, but there was this feeling of everybody watching at the same time.

And then the chatting in the chat box of Twitch, is what really grabbed my attention for the possibilities for community building for higher ed, because it became more than just what the media was. It was the value added of what people were talking about, the excitement that was going on there.

And so I’m like there has to be a way to stream games and have that community building at the same time. Plus the people who use Twitch are the exact ages of the people that our admissions teams really, really want to reach out to and find a way to connect with. And so, you know, you go where your audiences are and if the audiences are on Twitch, let’s give them reasons to engage with our institutions on there.

And that’s sort of how it started and led me down to, to actually doing it, which is a whole other story.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Awesome.

Joel Goodman: Could we take one step back and just kind of explain what Twitch is for folks that don’t live in the, especially the video game streaming world? Uh, I think there are a lot of people that know that people stream their gameplay, but don’t understand why.

Andrew Cassel: Sure

Joel Goodman: But even just like the platform itself. Where, where can people find Twitch? What does it do? What type of community is being built around it?

Andrew Cassel: Twitch is now owned by Amazon. So if you have an Amazon account, you can log into Twitch. It started as a video game streaming platform several years ago. I forget how many exact years ago, but. And then Amazon bought it because the audience was just huge. So it really is, all it is is a streaming platform.

It gives you a streaming key that you put on whatever your console or into your PC, however you’re gaming, and then the console or the PC talks to Twitch, and then it streams whatever you’re playing.

And so there are people who, you know, usually there’s the face of the gamer appears on there and they have people who subscribed to them who donate to their accounts through Venmo and things like that. So there are people who make their careers doing that. But it’s also there are video game tournaments that are streamed on Twitch. So League of Legends is a really, really big thing of that. So you bring people together, um, and then Twitch has hosted these things and these worldwide tournaments where you can come and watch people play.

But I think Joel, you brought up a good thing, which is one of the things that when I started talking to my supervisors in higher ed about using Twitch to grow audiences and to build community. They said, well, why would anybody want to watch someone play a video game?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: This is my exact next question because I’m thinking I’m flashback to when I’m eight years old and I’m over at my neighbor Randall’s house, who’s just a wizard at video games and we’re playing Super Mario Brothers. He’s Mario, I’m Luigi. He can play forever on one life. And I’m sitting there watching just patiently on my, you know, a little eight-year-old kid waiting my turn to be Luigi and immediately get killed by a Goomba like within the first 30 seconds.

Like why I personally, I do love Twitch, but this was my first question. When it first became a thing, it’s like, why would you want to watch somebody play a video game when you could just play it by yourself?

Andrew Cassel: Well, for me, it’s, there’s the first thing is people like to watch people compete. And so if you’re watching a group of people playing a game that is last man standing game, so you get invested in which character is going to win.

And so it’s this natural thing that we have when we watch competitions, of rooting for someone. Either you want the underdog to win and you can get that last shot and you can win, or, Oh, you’re just dominating this field of whatever it is. So there’s this idea that we’d like to watch competition.

The other thing is we all watch the Olympics on television. We love to watch the summer Olympics. I’m not going to go out and play beach volleyball, but I love to watch people playing beach volleyball. On the winter Olympics, I’m not going to go luge, but by the end of that winter Olympics, I have learned all about what luge is, how luge started, you know, and I don’t remember the name of the gold medalist.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m not, I’m not, I’m not going to break my hip, playing Tetris.

(everyone laughs)

Andrew Cassel: Right. And so it’s, it’s this idea of the vicarious experience of watching someone who’s good at something, do something that you will never be able to do.

Joel Goodman: One other thing with that, I’m a, I’m a very casual gamer. There are specific franchises that I’ll play on my Xbox, but I think there’s a level of, for some people, they really, they really want to get involved in the narrative or the story for some of these games, right?

And so it’s, it’s similar to how you would invest your time into a television series or a movie. I think some people play games like that. I mean, especially like some of the more like action-adventure role-playing games. Like you, you do that for the narrative and the story, and it’s, it’s pure entertainment on that side of things and it’s less about watching someone play it, but. But actually like seeing someone that knows, that is progressing through the story and then not having to necessarily invest the energy and the stress levels and everything else into like losing, you know, a few dozen times because you get shot by something or,

Andrew Cassel: Joel on that, that brings together a couple of ideas that I really love about Twitch for higher ed. One is you’re watching this narrative, you’re watching the story, and then it’s always cool to compare that with somebody else. Oh, look at the little thing they did over here. Or this is a callback to that, the foreshadowing that was in the first cut scene and look how that’s coming together.

So hearing someone give that analysis as you go along and play, is that value-added. Like, Oh, I didn’t notice that the next time I’m going to play, I’m going to look out for that. Or I’m going to go back to my save that was at that part in the game and really look for that. Or, Oh, I didn’t know that book was over there that had that secret lore in there. And so, as you said like you really get into the immersion of these games is something that the shared experience of watching someone do it, it’s like, then for higher ed it’s now, bring a faculty member in who studies that sort of genre.

If it say it’s Assassin’s Creed.

Joel Goodman: That’s my, that’s my game, actually.

Andrew Cassel: And Assassin’s Creed has things that are based throughout history. So I’m a Humanities expert. You stream the game cause they might not be a gamer, but you can talk to them as like, is this historically accurate? And then they might have that fun thing. You know, it was like, Oh, that’s not how it is at all.

Which has its own entertainment value, but then there’s also, Oh no, that’s really how it is. And it was like that. And look, at the work that the developers did to bring the real historical part, like the, you can go and explore this. I don’t know which Assassin’s Creeds are out there. I know there’s a Greek one, right?

Joel Goodman: Yeah, I’m actually, I’m still playing that one, like a year later.

Andrew Cassel: If you’re an Athens, you know, bring in people who are Greek historians. And if there’s languages up on the buildings, like is there linguists at your school, they’d be like, is that say what? Or does this just say, you know, something ridiculous?

So. One of the things I love about the potential of Twitch and higher is what you were talking about, Joel, it’s just those strict one person games, that’s a narrative game, even an open world game where you can explore, you can see the plants. Like bring in botanists. Would these plants live together? And then what I have found is when I’ve done this with faculty members, is it starts opening up this cause you’re sitting there playing, you need to talk about something and then it starts talking about, well, how do you teach students about plants? How do you do this research with plants in the lab? How do you collaborate with other researchers in the work that you do? And so it becomes this bigger narrative of how a faculty member engages with the students, with their peers, how they foster success in the students, all based on seeing a weird plant in a video game.

And then I also love the idea of bringing in like English graduate students. Let’s play the video novel. Like just one of those novels where it’s like, choose your own adventure. You go along and you come up with, you know, you have to make a choice. But there is a narrative structure in there and does it adhere to what you usually think of as a novel and how do you compare and contrast between those things?

Now you’re highlighting the work of that graduate student and the graduate program and giving people who are thinking about, do I want to go to this college or university? Who am I going to learn with there? Oh, this person’s really funny. This person has a great insight into this that I’ve never thought of before. I want to go to that place so that I can study with those people because they’re looking at this media that I engage with and making me think about it in a new way. And that’s what higher ed is all about, right?

Joel Goodman: Yeah.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah. And I think, you know, I saw you presented about this at HighEdWeb um, again, time is blurring altogether. It was last year. Okay. And you, you know, you talked about just some, some connections that faculty made that you would normally think about a video game. And then you mentioned, uh, a professor playing World of Warcraft and getting into supply chain management based upon the crafting element in that game.

Or being able to tell about a person’s personality based on the role they play in, in those role-playing games. And we can play a fun game. You can get what I role in World of Warcraft.

Andrew Cassel: That was a huge thing, Jon-Stephen, thank you for bringing that up because one of the things, as you know, a 17, 18-year-old person is about to leave high school and go off to higher education, you know, go to college, they’re barely learning about how they study. And how they learn. And they’re dropped into this environment where there’s lots of support, there’s orientation, there are counselors as peers, but a lot of it is like, you might be shy.

You, you might want to not take the year. It takes to figure out how can I really succeed in this testing. But if you can look back and think, okay, how do I like to game. I’m a gamer that when I’m in a situation, I just rush out ahead. I barrel forward. Everything else be damned. And I’m just going to get to the goal

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Leeroy Jenkins!

Andrew Cassel: Right, you just Leeroy Jenkins your way in there. You’re like, okay, that’s sort of my personality. I do that regularly during games. So how, when I’m a student in higher ed, I’ve got to be careful not to just try to barrel towards the finish line. Like I’m not just getting to graduation. I’m more aware of who I am as a person. And that might help me be more successful as a student.

Or if you play a video game, you play a support character. You love to be a healer. That’s what you do. You sit back, you give health and good feelings to the people in your group. Then you move into the real world of higher ed and be like, that’s who I am as a person.

I know a little bit more about myself. I can be aware of that in group sessions. Like I’ll bring snacks, I’ll bring water bottles, you know, I’ll make sure yeah. That we have the stuff that we need to survive. That’s what I can bring to this group project. And having that awareness going in means there’s a higher chance that you will succeed as a student and then you will complete at your institution.

Which, retention is such a huge thing. And the more that we can set students up to succeed in the beginning, the more we can help them realize who they are. As a learner and as a personality. And being able to have them watch a Twitch stream and see a faculty member that works in e-learning and they’d love to create really supportive learning structures and they play a healer in the game and you as the sort of Twitch host, bring those details out of the faculty member, it helps the viewer be like, Oh, that’s I do always play a support character.

When I go to college, I’m not going to change who I am, I’m going to lean into that. I’m going to be that person, that everybody in my, maybe I’m going to be an RA because I’m going to be who everybody could depend on.

But that’s sort of, but that’s the World of Warcraft things, and looking at how you are as a game player and having someone outside sort of point that out to you helps you grow and become more self-aware as you’re starting this part of your education career.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Well, I always play a rogue. So do with that what you will.

Andrew Cassel: So I think for that, you know, you’re kind of, you’re on the edge. You’re there, you’re that sneaky person in class that doesn’t talk very much, right? But when you make a point. It is a killer point and everyone in the classroom was like, Oh man, that guy, he hasn’t talked all semester, but when he does talk, you gotta pay attention.

And so it’s knowing, it’s feeling like that gets to the point of like, I’m a student I’m so shy in class. Like when do I speak up? I’m a rogue. Like, I’m just always sort of in the shadows, but when I’m needed. When my opinion has importance, I’m there to share it. I’m there to make a difference. I can suddenly do all that damage.

I can suddenly bring all that knowledge to class.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Well, and too, I think it’s, you know, there’s other ways we can connect with our students yet for, from, from a faculty perspective, back in the day when I was faculty and I was teaching English as a Second Language, I had several students, you know, World of Warcraft is global. So I had students who were coming in with very low English skills, but were dropping, like, vocabulary in class, like agility and endurance. And it’s like, I’m just teaching you how to put a sentence together right now. And you know, where’s this vocabulary coming from?

So I started playing World of Warcraft with my students and, you know, letting them in the chat window, ask me questions and, and talk to me like, what is this? Oh, this player over here is asking me this question. What does he mean?

And found that the students who did not talk to me at all were coming up to me in the hallway and saying, Oh, you know, are we going to raid tonight? Um, Which was a blast. It was so much fun. and, and to find, find that that connection with our students is, is, um, I think there’s a lot of value into that, that not everybody sees at first take.

Andrew Cassel: I think that leads right over into taking those sessions that were just you and your students, getting permission from them, of course, and then streaming that on Twitch. That becomes recruitment material that you can use to show this is the type of person, this is the community that we’re building here. It’s not just you might be getting criticized by your parents, by other friends, by peers. All you do is you sit in your room all day and play video games, but they might not understand how you’re actually connecting to a broader community.

And seeing that someone at a place where you’re thinking about going to school, embraces that and welcomes that, it means that okay, mom and dad, you might not understand why this school is right for me, but I understand why it’s right for me. Because when I go there, I know that there’s a cool faculty member who raids with his students, and I want to be a part of that. And then they’ll join in and they’ll come to your school and they’ll pay a bunch of money and then they’ll graduate and be rich and successful and donate that all back to the school when they die.

Joel Goodman: It’s Lifecycle Management right there on Twitch.

Andrew Cassel: It is, it all starts with that. And all sorts of that one WoW raid that you did in

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Well, I mean, there, you know, you kind of hit an interesting point of just the communal experience of video games. Like early in the episode I was talking about the very real experience of going to my friend Randall’s house and, and playing video games with him, that it tugs at my heartstrings. I was thinking, as you were describing why somebody would watch Twitch to me, I was thinking of all the times as a child, pouring over issues of Nintendo Power and like looking at the game maps and thinking, okay, I, my mom won’t let me play until, you know, four o’clock today, I get my hour. Here, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m planning that, that, that experience. And she’s okay with me, cause I’m technically reading them tend to have power right now. Um, And, that, feeling of nostalgia is very powerful. And I think, you know, you kind of touch on a point where even something like this could be something used to engage alumni.

Andrew Cassel: I think that absolutely. I mean, once you start sort of pulling the stigma of Twitch, like what are we doing in the video games and how does that do with higher ed communications? Like that, that is your initial obstacle. When you talk about that with administration leaderships and even supervisors in communications, and it’s like, well, why, what purpose does it serve?

How does that help us display our brand and talk about who we are as an institution? Like, well, who are you? We’re authentic. We solve the world’s greatest problems. We have a great community. You can do all of those things. Like it’s, it teaches problem-solving skills. You’re faced with something inside this game that seems insurmountable at the beginning.

And you keep trying it over and over and over again until you find just the right path, the timing, all of that sort of stuff. So the patience and the dedication that it takes to succeed in some of these really challenging games leads right over into the work that you’ll do outside of the classroom.

And that confidence that you can get, like, I, man, I solved that jumping puzzle on that game that I was playing. It took me three weeks, but I did it. I can take care of getting the vaccine for COVID-19. You know, cause I am determined. And when I set my mind at something, I know that I give up, I had the success. But not only, that to bring in the higher ed stuff, but I also had my whole class there watching me and behind me, they were retweeting it and sharing it along the way.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: You know, you bring up COVID-19 but it baffles me why we haven’t seen any sort of school or just a class instead of having, meetings in Zoom, like, meeting on the Plains of Azeroth and, you know, there’s all sorts of little inns and places like you could have this kind of three dimensional…

Andrew Cassel: I have seen a few people, a few faculty members that have done that, but you bring up a great point. Jon-Stephen which is one of the things that we’ve talked about is equity and inclusion. And, you know, running a video game at the speed that you would need to be able to engage in a class in a meaningful way, you might not have that computer system at home.

Or, sure you can — and I thought about this as well with World of Warcraft — there’s a free version that you can play up to level 10. So if you get the free version, you get up to that level and then suddenly everybody else is moving on past you and you’re like, well, I don’t have the money to sub for six months.

So there are issues to be considered when it comes to that. Like it, does everybody have the equipment that you need? Can everybody afford, the space on their computer to download that game? So those things, um, and I know that you wanted to sort of talk about like, why not to do it, and those are reasons to keep in mind. Like it’s making sure that everybody has equal access to the stuff that you’re doing out there.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Blizzard, if you’re listening, like, a partnership with a university. It would be so cool to do. Like sponsor a class.

Andrew Cassel: That’d be great. Yeah. Distribute some games.

So you bring up the word partnership with Blizzard, which would be great, but that’s a big thing with Twitch too, and Twitch and higher ed, specifically. Twitch has this thing they call the path to partnership and you can download the brochure as a PDF for it. You can use that powerful tool, Google to go search “Twitch higher ed partnership stuff,” even while you’re listening right now.

And so they lay out how to become a Twitch partner, and then you have to have a certain number of hours that you’ve streamed that are different, you know, consecutive hours during the week, you have to have a certain number of viewers that all watch the same time. That’s the most difficult part, is to get those live viewers, watching your stream. Even Twitch says, in the descriptions of how they’d talk about their platform that most people watch the streams later.

So there are audience building tools, to make sure that people can watch the stream live. And I can talk about that in a second, but this Twitch path to partnership means at the end, when you’ve followed the path all the way through and they give you, they’ve gamified it, of course, there’s little achievements that show up on your profile as you go along.

But at the end, you get to create a branded Twitch channel for your school. So you can bring in all the colors that you’ve worked so hard to create out there, the typefaces, logos right into there. Then as you move up the path, you can start making emoticons that people can use. So you can have your mascot be an emoticon that people could use in the Twitch chat.

So Twitch really, really, really wants higher ed to get on board and to join them and connecting with this community and use these community-building tools. And they, they encourage you with that sort of stuff.

Joel Goodman: To me this seems like a no-brainer for those institutions that are launching, eSports programs which, have popped up a ton in the last year, plus. It seems like something that they should be doing, but it also, I don’t see it as much, or at least I haven’t, I haven’t seen the marketing effect of institutions pushing this stuff.

Andrew Cassel: You’re absolutely right, Joel. And that’s one of the, like you may, I encourage people who are listening right now to go and search your school and search your school + eSports to see if there are eSports teams out there already working or a student org. And then that can be your start. Sharing about them building that community up, directing people that way. It’s really like an unsung hero of your college university, higher ed institution.

Maybe these student orgs that have these Twitch channels already. Then it becomes that thing, you know, I think we’ve all experienced when we stumbled across an Instagram account that students who started years ago and like, what the hell are you doing with your Instagram? It doesn’t make sense. You have to 200 people that like it. And 50 of those people are the people in your student org. Why do you have this Instagram account?

Um, so once you start discovering these little student things, then it, you ha you’re faced with the choice of, do I let them do their thing and fail, or do I try to bring them into this broader communication strategy of yes, your eSports are great, we’re going to “yes, and” it, and we’re going to bring some live streams in there with faculty members. And that gets to the flexibility of Twitch beyond just games. So even this podcast that we’re doing right now, it could be live-streamed on Twitch. Just us sitting here talking, I’m sure that we’ve all experienced in our families. Do you know what people watch on YouTube? Any fricking thing!

(everyone laughs)

Joel Goodman: Well, so I was talking, I think it might’ve been when Michael Fienen was on our show, a few episodes back, but he was talking about how they — or, he may have said this on Twitter, I don’t know. All communication is the same, but he was talking about how they, they do this on Discord. They record their podcast on Discord. And if you can do that over Discord and still get good audio quality and also be streaming the video, Twitch would work the same way. I mean, discord is also, you know, similar-ish in what Twitch does.

Andrew Cassel: And Twitch is fine with the live part of it. I think that’s a really big, important part of the, the live experience and Twitch is seeing that chat and the chat is such a huge part of it and people contributing and going on there. And I think, um, Jon-Stephen talked a little bit about the like, why not to do it.

And that’s another big, you know, anybody can say anything they want and chat. And so if you’re streaming a thing with faculty members and you know, people are like, this faculty member is racist. They nothing but microaggressions in their class. I can’t believe they even still teach here. you know, anything that we do opens us up to the community that we’re communicating with.

So there are risks for all of those things. There’s also, um, I dream of one day having a Twitch takeover where students do like here, I’m going to stream on the Middlebury Twitch channel, for this month and that’s great. I love that idea.

Once I started thinking about it, I was like, okay, well, what game are you going to stream? Because I don’t want you streaming “University Zombies Attack” on the college’s Twitch channel. You know, there’s, there are limits to put on there and then it’s like, okay, I’m going to, it’s midnight, the admin’s not looking. Now I can stream whatever game I want. And then that is going out under the college’s auspices and that could like screenshots coming back. I can’t believe you’re supporting that. Look at what you’re doing out there. Um, you, you talk about being a place of equity and inclusion and here they’re playing Grand Theft Auto and beating up Black prostitutes. You know, you don’t want that.

And so it’s like with any takeover, you have to find the right person. And the one thing about Twitch is only one key works at a time. So if you happen to see that someone is streaming something that you don’t want them to do, you can go in and you can change the key, and then they’ll be cut off immediately from the platform.

So there are things that you can do, but it is, there are lots of dangers with this particular platform. But I think for me, the benefits far outweigh those dangers. If you, if you approach it right. As you do anything carefully. With strategic intentions, what do you want out of it in the end? And that’s one of the things that the Path to Partnership really helps establish. With the goals in there, you know, you want a hundred viewers at the same time. How do I go to a hundred viewers at the same time? You promote your streams. You use that, the moments, and the highlights, which Twitch can create for you to lead people back.

Like “we played World of Warcraft last week with Jon-Stephen. We almost made it to the final boss. We’re going to be writing again this weekend at this time, Eastern. Join us.” And so you share those clips and those highlights across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to connect with those old WoW gamers that are out there like, wow, that’s still around? I want to watch them raid. I used to raid Molten Core back in the day, and I can’t wait to see how they’re doing it now.

So you can use all of the tools that you do for any audience building and direct them to like this thing is going to happen on this day at this time. Just like a theater performance music, performance, dance performance, like this is a performance. And you want the audience to show up just like you do for anything.

So use all of those tools that you’re so good at using to have people attend these performances. And that’s how you grow your Twitch audience, the live Twitch audience to show, to watch the live streams. Then they’ll start following you. They’ll get the notifications. When you go live on Twitch, they look forward to it.

One of the, best things, but it’s one of the most validating things is when you talk to a student, you’d be like, Oh yeah, we streamed that on Twitch last week. And you h”ear the students say “the college has a Twitch channel?!” And like, yeah. It’s like these days, like, “the college has a TikTok?!”

That’s not quite as cool as having the Twitch channel, but And then they go and they tell their friends, Oh, I watched the college’s Twitch channel. And isn’t it cool that there’s this Twitch channel and look at all this stuff that goes on there? So it’s a way to not appear. So stuffy.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: So let’s get down to brass tacks of, you know, I figured out what I want to do with it. It aligns with our goals, all of that stuff. And now we get to the fun part of actually starting a Twitch channel. One, what do I need? And two, how do I buy video games on the P-Card?

(Andrew laughs)

Andrew Cassel: Those are great questions. All right. So here’s what you need.

First, you need, what you basically need, is just one computer. It’s best if you have two computers, one computer that can do the streaming. And one computer that can play the game. So that the game computer isn’t weighed down with all this stuff that goes on for the streaming.

So with the streaming, the tool that I have found that used, that I love to use is called OBS. Open Broadcaster Software. It’s a free Open Source Software. That, they maintain it. It’s really user friendly. You can bring lots of inputs out there. You can edit all sorts of stuff, shift things around, so you can become like a video DJ mixer, you know, bumping back and forth between inputs and things like that.

So you have OBS and then from OBS…

Joel Goodman: Fun fact

Andrew Cassel: Oh yeah?

Joel Goodman: I, I helped, uh, PSEWEB stream their conference a few weeks ago and used OBS for it. I use OBS weekly for other streaming things, but it’s, it’s got tons and tons of uses and I will back up everything Andrew said. It’s, it’s pretty easy. It really is pretty easy to use and really flexible.

Andrew Cassel: Yes, it’s an amazing tool. So you, you, um, well I guess the basic first thing, Jon-Stephen, and I take all of that back. The first thing that you do is, you go to twitch.com and you create an account.

Joel Goodman: .tv Isn’t it?

Andrew Cassel: I bet probably is .tv

Joel Goodman: Yeah, I think it’s twitch.tv.

Andrew Cassel: You’re probably looking at it right now. So you go to Twitch, just Google, Twitch, Google Twitch, and then start an account. Using, I think if you have an, I have an email [email protected] that I use to create all these accounts, don’t attach it to you. Create it to the account that you use to start other social media platforms. and so create that account. So once you’ve created the account, download OBS, get the stream key from your Twitch account, lock it into OBS, then you’re good to go.

So anything that you stream on that computer, OBS can do, the simplest thing to do is a display capture, right on your monitor. And this is the best way to avoid real fair use issues: don’t include the audio for the game you’re streaming. That is in some ways the riskiest thing. If you’re just streaming the video, then you’re not using all that copyrighted material to be marketing your college or university.

And that is a huge concern for the people that I’ve talked to about this.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m dating myself with all the video game references, but all the songs on Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I mean, come on.

Joel Goodman: Oh, hey, the remastered version of that is coming out in like two months. Or a month, actually, I think it might be next month. It’s I think it was September. It might be this month.

Andrew Cassel: So imagine that imagine if you had some dude, like the there’s a, there’s an old, you know, grizzled 60 year old skater guy or girl faculty member be like, Hey, let’s play some Tony Hawk Remastered. You’d be like, Oh, yeah! for that.

So the fair use issues are a big thing. Not having the audio in the stream, um, helps balance that out and it can take some of those things into account. So stream the display from the monitor through OBS onto Twitch. Then you can add a webcam, which we all have now. Cause we’ve been working and learning from home so much. You can have a little bit picture and picture thing of you as the streamer down in the bottom. Right. Then it starts getting to how much do you want to spend?

And we were all sitting here, I can see you through the video software that we’ve all got headsets and microphones on. You know, they cost varying amounts of money. Again. you can do it with just the microphone that’s built into the thing. So as long as you have a computer, the Twitch account is free, OBS is free.

You asked about games on the P-Card. If you get games on a P-Card, I don’t know how you’re doing that in these budget times. I envy you. But the thing is there are free games out there on Steam. So if you download Steam, then it takes a very, very careful curation thing to find just the right free game that you can play, that is worthwhile, that connects with the strategy that you have for using Twitch, that there are faculty members…

The way that I got around it was — not got around it, but worked within these restrictions — was, before I worked at Middlebury, I worked at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which was a, it started out as an agricultural college. So we were celebrating our Centennial for being an agricultural college and they still have a strong agricultural program. And I got served an ad for a farming simulator game. And I’m like, well, this just matches up great. I’m gonna have a faculty member play this farming similar game. Talk about, you know, they’re going to be awesome at this game cause they’re a farmer in real life. We are just gonna own this game.

And so I went to my supervisor, they, Hey, can I have $15 to buy this farming simulator game? She’s like, “No.” Like, Oh, okay. So back onto Twitch, looking through the free Twitch things up comes this game called Cell to Singularity, which was an evolution Sim building game with free components. And there was also a strong, biology program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And so I reached out to an evolutionary biologist who was really, really good at Twitter.

So finding people to stream. Look for those people that are already using the internet, they get the internet, they know what the internet is all about. But not like, “Oh, I don’t have social media channels.” Like you gotta have, you gotta have a shoe-in at the beginning so that other faculty members can see it and be like, well, I want to be a part of that thing. You’ll be like, yeah, I know. So like, why is that the expert getting out there and not my expertise getting out there I’ve written through any more books than they have. I have three more letters next to my name than they do.

You know you got to lean into that faculty ego to get the guests. so we start streaming this evolutionary simulator game that was free on Twitch. So that was a free game. I used the free OBS. I used the free Twitch account. I used my own computer that is already used for work. And I brought them to the place where we were going to stream. So I brought it together.

You can do it with the stuff that you already have. And then once you start proving it, maybe you may be able to get more budget to support like a full-on studio system, a full-on computer system. You know, if you’ve got an alum that works at blizzard or any of these games companies, you know, reach out to them, can you sponsor our Twitch broadcasting studio? You never know. I mean, that’s all sorts of stuff. You never know, but that’s what Advancement is for, right?

But, Jon-Stephen you asked me the basics. You need a computer to stream the game. A free game on Steam, there’s plenty of them out there, some of them, you will find one that can work for you. That OBS software is free, and then the Twitch is free. And all those things together, you can start streaming games, this afternoon, person who is listening to this right now and really excited.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: You’re making me want to get back into World of Warcraft now.

(Joel laughs)

Andrew Cassel: Good, then my, my job here is done.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: No! I have a three year old. I do not have time to to raid.

Andrew Cassel: That’s alright, there’s WoW classic out there now you can totally get you. If you get a six-month subscription, you get a special Mount. So just buy-in for six months, you get it.

That’s, it’s that excitement that you feel right now, Jon-Stephen that is what, when people start seeing that experience and you go and you pitch this to faculty members pitch this to leadership. It’s like, Oh, I don’t have, you’re going to have the game for me? I don’t have to buy it. We’re going to come in for an hour at a time? That’s a meeting time? I can come in and play during this time, but I don’t have to bring it back into my house.

And that was after I streamed WoW with a couple of the faculty members, one of them saw me at the coffee shop. He’s like, I can’t do that again. I’m like, why? Did you not have a good time? It’s like, “no, I had too good of a time. And my addiction was so strong that it’s like shooting heroin. And I don’t, I want to bring that into my life. There are other games that I will play with you, but not that one.”

So that’s, that is a concern because video game addiction is real.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Well, you brought it up at the top of the show. You know, we don’t talk about Twitch and we don’t talk about mental health. So like yeah. Coming full circle. What do we need to know about that? And how can, how can we set ourselves up as positive role models to combat some of these more addictive elements of video games?

Andrew Cassel: It’s bringing in, you can bring experts from your mental health professionals in there to talk about it as you’re, as you’re playing. Like I’m going to bring in, I’m going to play this game and you can talk to me about like what particular parts of this game, how are they feeding into this addiction? Like, is it the crafting portion? You, you pick like you have a new recipe, you’ve got to level up that recipe. But in order to get that recipe, you can either buy the ingredients or find the ingredients.

And so the game is built to make you play it. And so the, some of those ingredients are rare. And so now if you really get into this, you know, and people, OCD is real.

You know, and if the gamers lean into that with the design for the game, how can we make people play for hours at a time? Well, there’s one rare element that only if you go out there and you find it, can you make the next level of this potion.

So bring in a mental health professional to talk about that as you’re going around and searching, and be like, you know what, maybe you can’t, you have all this gold that you’ve accumulated. Maybe you can use that to buy the element and you don’t have to find it. “But no, I want to find it like I that’s what I want to do!” I want to, let’s talk about that compulsion to find it. And so having that discussion and having a, you know, a young gamer, see that, talk to me about, you know, what, maybe I don’t need to go and find that that element.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Or even on the transverse of that, I’ve heard stories of, of, Health professionals work with veterans services for dealing with PTSD, working inside a video game, particularly World of Warcraft, uh, and giving the, you know, these veterans an outlet, and, uh, build a community where they can talk, openly talk about these things where they’re, it’s an area where they’re, they’re comfortable.

Andrew Cassel: I think there is this, the gaming community has two sides, just like everything does. There’s gatekeeping, there’s cruelty. There’s people saying you’re not a real gamer, girls don’t game, all that sort of stuff. Like there is that element of the community, it’s undeniable. But there’s also really rewarding friendships and groups and support groups out there that comes from in part the anonymity. Because when you’re playing a role playing game character, you don’t know what my gender is. You don’t know where I am. You don’t know what language I speak. You know, unless you’re on a specific language server or things like that.

But there’s this idea that now I can talk about things that I usually can talk about with these people that are so supportive that have been through the same thing. So a big part of it is finding that community that enriches you, and then blocking and muting those jerk phases out there that just want to talk shit and you don’t want to hear it.

So just block them and you can find a community out there for you. There’s so many different kinds of games. We’ve touched on the massively multiplayer roleplaying game. Like World of Warcraft. There are so many others out there like that, where you get to do this role-playing and explore and level up and face huge obstacles. And have to work together as a team.

And that’s another thing like as a gamer, if I’m out there and I’m the Guild Leader, guess what? I’m going to be a great member of a group project at college. And I can lean into those same skills. Like how can we bring everybody to raid at a certain time? That can be really hard to pull everybody’s schedules together. But if you can balance that you can use those skills at college. So that MMO, can really, really help in all of your learning, but then say you don’t like that. I just want to play an open world game where I want to run around. I don’t even want to do the main quest. Like that’s another thing to keep in mind as a…

Joel Goodman: That’s half of what I do with Assassin’s Creed is just run around and not play any of the storylines.

Andrew Cassel: So if you get assigned a task, you’re like, okay, I know what my homework is. My paper’s due a week from now, but you know what? I’m going to read, you know, this magazine article about the author of the paper that I’m going to write on. I’m not going to write my actual paper. And then in the last minute, you’re like, Oh, I need to finish that thing.

So knowing about yourself and knowing that you’re a person who’s like, Oh, forget the main quest I want to go do, I’m a completionist. So I’m going to get every single side quest before I even touch the main quest. That’s a dif, that’s a different sort of person. And you can learn who you are about doing that. And you can bring that to your experiences at college.

And then there’s games like where you are driven along the storyline and you there’s not open world. Like one thing happens after another. And if that game really appeals to you, then you like structure in your life. You like to have a clear, defined goal, and you like working to that goal steadily. You don’t want to get distracted with all those other things. And so all of these different types of games exist out there.

You can stream all of these games for your higher ed marketing and communication skills to help students learn about. If your school is right for them and to help them learn more about themselves, so they will succeed once they enroll and they will finish at your college.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: So you’ve got me thinking, not just what kind of student am I, what kind of social media manager am I, like? You know, based on what games are like, what characters I play and stuff like that. I think that would be a really interesting, uh, blog post or something that kind of dive into.

Andrew Cassel: There’s a lot, the games reveal a lot about who you are. And if you have the chance to look at somebody playing a game and they’re playing with the same style, the same character, the same sort of way that you play the game, it really gives you a lot to think about like it’s Oh, I do that. I do that in my outside life as well. Because you’re not playing the game in that moment, so you’re not concentrating on everything that’s going on. You have that one step back. And so it can really be relevatory about your own personality and how you approach the world, how you approach learning, how you approach decision making, group working. Um, what you need to judge your own success.

Do I need to max out my level? Do I need to have every best in slot item? Do I need to go around in the city of Athens and find every single hidden statue that’s out there? I don’t know if that’s an Assassin’s Creed thing or not…

Joel Goodman: It’s usually a mark on a statue, but pretty close.

Andrew Cassel: So then I played Horizon Zero Dawn, which I loved that game. Open-world, action-adventure game. And there was lore that you had to go around and find these little recordings of things that had happened for the end of the world.

My girlfriend and I sat down there, she had the map of where to go find the lore pieces, and then she would direct me. We had some of the worst fights we’ve ever had in our life. Like, “No over there behind that hill, behind that go the other way. Wait, what are you doing?” And like what “this is where you said to go.?

“No, I said go that way.?

“Well that way doesn’t help me when I’m looking…?

So, we learned a lot about how we communicate with each other, uh, during that. Um, but it’s, it’s, this is the sort of community and the fun that comes from playing games. And one of the things that’s so hard to do with higher ed marketing and communications is finding that fun that takes it beyond the just a level of “here’s something you need to know.?

Or especially now with the balance of, you know, hybrid learning and in-person learning. What are the restrictions on campus for your students this semester? How long are they going to be spending in their rooms? And what can you do as a communicator to give them this community?

Is now the perfect time to start a Twitch channel for your college, because you can say, all right, you’ve tested positive. You’ve got a 14-day quarantine, but we have a Quaran-Twitch you know, every weekend that you can now be a part of because you’re in quarantine on campus. And so it gives this sense of community that, okay, I can’t do it all. I can’t go to parties. I can’t go everything because I’m limited in what I can do to help keep my fellow campus community members safe.

But what I can do is, and I can engage. And the college is giving me this platform to do, they are supporting me in a way that I never expected. And when I tell my friends about what my college experience was like 10 years from now, I’ll be like, yeah, I went to college during COVID. Yeah, I was quarantine, but you know what? I played Twitch every weekend with my fellow quarantine members. And that’s something that I will never forget. Here’s a million dollars, college.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Excellent. I think that’s a perfect note to end on, especially the idea of fun. And cause, especially so many of us in higher ed communications right now just need some, just fun for a little bit. And I think this is a perfect outlet for it and a good place for us to find both fun and community.

Andrew Cassel: I think the thing that I will say about that is yes, the end result is fun, but you need to address it, bring all of the seriousness and the planning, all of that stuff that you do for any social media campaign, that needs to be in the backend. But keep that fun goal in mind. What are you doing to make it fun?

And then you can use all of the skills that you got for all the not-fun communications that you’re doing to make it fun for the users, for the community, for the students in the end.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Excellent. Andrew Cassel. Thank you so much. Do you have any plugs? Where can we find you? Where can we find you on Twitch? Where can we find you on Twitter?

Andrew Cassel: I have just started the Middlebury College Twitch, so you can certainly follow Middlebury College on Twitch if you want to be one of the first followers. This is sort of a plug. I will plug MiddCraft, which students started over the summer recreating the Middlebury campus in Minecraft. And so that’s actually going to be, my first stream is running around in Minecraft, on MiddCraft.

I’m on Twitter, @AndrewBCassel on Twitter. And then, um, and so those are the plugs that I would give, Oh, I guess I could plug. I am, presenting as part of HighEdWeb this October (2020) . I’m very, very excited, to be part of the online, programming for HighEdWeb.

It’s my favorite conference to be a part of. I’ll be talking about working with admissions this March after everybody got sent home at one of the most crucial times of the admissions process. So really excited to share that with the community.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Awesome, looking forward to it.

Joel Goodman: Thank you so much for listening to the Thought Feeder Podcast. If you enjoy listening to our shows, we would really appreciate a review or a rating on Apple Podcasts. You can subscribe to us there. You can also follow us on Spotify. You can find us pretty much anywhere. We have our podcasts listed in every aggregator you could possibly think of. If you’d like to reach out and talk with us or talk with our guests online, we are @ThoughtFeedPod.

You can also find back episodes and transcripts of every single episode that we do at thoughtfeederpod.com. We want to thank Andrew Cassel again for being on the show today. Thanks so much, Andrew. We appreciate ya.

Andrew Cassel: Thank you. Oh my God. It was so great. Thank you.

Joel Goodman: Thought Feeder is a production of University Insight.

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