If you want to be successful at live streaming, you should pay close attention to…
What is Stream Sniping and How to Avoid It?
Streaming multiplayer titles like Hearthstone or Minecraft is a great way to establish yourself as a video game streamer. However, being a prominent name in online multiplayer circles will eventually draw unwanted attention from hackers, trolls, and other less savory characters lurking in the dark corners of the web.
When this happens, you might become the target of something called stream sniping. This underhanded practice abuses the fact that streaming exposes where you are and what you’re doing in-game, which makes it easy for someone to drop in on your server with the intention of ruining your experience.
To help you understand the nature of the threat, as well as the most effective ways of combating it, check out our guide on stream sniping below.
Stream Sniping Meaning
Let’s start with a basic definition. Stream sniping is when someone attempts to sabotage your livestream by entering the same multiplayer game or server, and messing with you in ways that include:
- Trying to kill you, possibly through friendly-fire.
- Stealing or destroying your items and other in-game property.
- Drawing monsters from all over the map to your location.
- Blocking you from moving.
- Tracking your every move to gain an unfair advantage in a match.
To combat stream sniping, Rust features a Streamer Mode that masks and hides certain information on your display.
How Does Stream Sniping Work?
Stream sniping works thanks to an information asymmetry between yourself and the sniper. To put it simply, when you’re broadcasting the contents of your screen during a game, you’re publicly sharing information not intended for other players (e.g., your hand of cards in Hearthstone, or your map location in Minecraft). If you’re playing on a public server, this means other people can watch what you’re doing and play at the same time, which opens up many possibilities for foul play.
Is Stream Sniping Cheating?
While stream sniping is certainly detrimental to your enjoyment of a game, it is usually not considered cheating. That is, if the word “cheating” means directly modifying how the game runs through hacks and cheat codes. With that being said, stream sniping is frowned upon by the online gaming community, especially by the fans and followers of the streamer getting sniped.
Stream sniping is especially offensive in games where information warfare is a core gameplay element, such as first-person shooters (e.g., Call of Duty) and strategy games (e.g., League of Legends).
Glimpse protects you from stream sniping by giving you full control over who gets to access your gaming servers. Create an account and livestream with your mind at ease.
Is Stream Sniping Illegal?
Stream sniping is not illegal in the strict sense of the word, provided the sniper isn’t engaging in other forms of harassment such as doxing (sharing your personal information online), verbal abuse, or hacking. Even if stream sniping were deemed illegal by a court of law, it would be extremely difficult to prove. The sniper can keep switching accounts to avoid getting pinned through his username, or even deny he was watching your stream in the first place.
Can You Get Banned for Stream Sniping?
While there is little to be done about stream sniping from a legal standpoint, some streaming services enact measures to curb the practice. For instance, Twitch updated its Terms of Service to include a clause about stream sniping, giving streamers the option to report the practice. Whether the policy gets enforced or not is another matter. As we’ve mentioned, it is often difficult to prove that you’re being targeted by a stream sniper, rather than just someone behaving in a nasty or overly competitive way.
How to Avoid Stream Sniping?
There is no surefire way to prevent stream sniping from happening, but there are steps you can take to protect the integrity of your stream. You can:
- Play games with automatic matchmaking, reducing the odds that a stream sniper will enter your server.
- Hide parts of your HUD which contain sensitive information (such as your mini-map) with an overlay in OBS.
- Use OBS to add a delay to your stream in by going to File > Settings > Advanced > Stream Delay.
- Report stream snipers to your streaming platform provider.
- Play on password-protected private servers.
- Use a pseudonym to make yourself more difficult to find.
Online multiplayer attract all sorts of people, including those who take pleasure in ruining the game for others. As public figures, game streamers are especially vulnerable to these attempts at foul play. Until there are better technical and legal solutions for combating stream sniping, game streamers will have to protect themselves in ways we’ve described.
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