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(Pocket-lint) - Over the last few years, more and more people have been getting into streaming on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.

Gamers love the idea of making a living doing what they love. Everyone knows it's not as easy to make it though. It's not as simple as just downloading OBS studio or Streamlabs and pressing the go live button. 

You need a professional set-up with all the right gear, a decent microphone so you can be heard and a heck of a lot of time and patience to dedicate to your craft. Not to mention the charisma to keep an audience engaged and coming back for more. Still, if you're willing then it can be an exciting thing to get into. 

There are things to be aware of though and one of those is stream sniping. 

What is stream sniping?

If you've been playing PC games online for a while then you know there are a lot of trolls and horrible individuals out there that like to spoil your fun. These folks love to grief and cause mischief that might bring them pleasure but generally ruins it for everyone else. 

Sadly, with the rise of streaming popularity these trolls have moved into a new game - stream sniping. 

Put in basic terms, stream sniping is the act of using your stream against you. If you're playing any sort of online multiplayer game then you're open to being the victim of stream sniping. This is particularly common in competitive games where knowing an enemy's location can make the difference between winning or losing a match. 

Did you ever play a split-screen game with a friend or loved one and take a cheeky look to see where they were to give you the edge? The flick of an eye being enough to let you win the game is sorely tempting. Well, with streaming you're basically opening yourself up to anyone doing that to you from anywhere in the world. 

All someone needs to do is open up your chosen streaming platform and click on your live stream to see what you're up to. Chances are if you're using standard settings then they've almost got a real-time feed of where you are and what you're up to. 

If you open up the map at any point or are sitting and camping in a particular spot or even just near an obvious and easily identifiable location then it's easy to find you and beat you. 

But I'm only a small streamer

It's easy to think that stream sniping is only really a problem for large streamers. Those trolls may get a bigger kick out of getting the upper hand on someone who's broadcasting their gameplay to thousands of viewers after all. But it's an issue for small streamers too. 

Sometimes stream snipers are just doing it for the win, sometimes they're on a mission to purposely harass and annoy a particular streamer. 

What can you do about stream sniping?

There are a few things you can do to mitigate some of the issues of stream sniping. Many popular games have dedicated settings aimed at streamers. These sometimes include things like streamer mode for in-game music (to avoid copyright strikes) but also settings that will hide the name of the server you're on, allow you to conceal or change your in-game handle and more. 

Rainbow Six Siege, for example, has several tools for combating streaming sniping. This includes various settings to prevent snipers from queuing into a game with you by hiding your region and latency and settings for randomly delaying your match matching when you click to join a game so it's harder to end up in the same lobby. Other settings include giving streamers the ability to hide names, clearance levels and avatars too, making it harder to find you. 

These settings alone don't necessarily fix the issue though. They help but they're not foolproof. If you're in an easily identifiable place then you're still easy to find and kill, troll or whatever else the stream sniper is planning. 

Pocket-lintWhat Is Stream Sniping photo 1

Delay your stream

One thing you can do to combat stream sniping is to add a delay to your stream. Ideally, you want to be able to engage with your audience in real time, responding to comments as they happen in chat. But this can be problematic if you're opening yourself up to stream snipers. 

Of course, if you're playing a competitive game and focussing hard on the game then you might not be responding to chat as often as you could anyway, so adding a delay might not matter. 

You can easily add a stream delay in OBS, Streamlabs and XSplit. 

For example, in OBS follow these steps:

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  • Click on the settings tab
  • Navigate to advanced
  • Look for the setting marked stream delay and click enable
  • Add a duration that you want to be added to the stream and experiment to see what works. 

What else can you do about stream snipers?

If you have a problem with regular stream snipers and you know who they are then there may be other things you can do. 

Some games allow users to report other players for toxic behaviour. This includes reporting players for stream sniping, which let's face it is another form of cheating anyway.  

You can also turn to your chosen streaming platform for help. Twitch, for example, has Gaming Content Guidelines which players and Twitch users need to be aware of. Twitch's guidelines include rules against stream sniping:

"Any activity, such as cheating, hacking, botting, or tampering, that gives the account owner an unfair advantage in an online multiplayer game, is prohibited. This also includes exploiting another broadcaster’s live broadcast in order to harass them in-game, such as stream sniping."

So if you know someone is stream sniping you, report them. 

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Writing by Adrian Willings.