What’s a ‘gimmick’?

Here’s a quick test. Think about the word ‘gimmick’. What comes to mind first? What does it mean to you?

There’s some sort of a negative ring to it, isn’t there? Well, that’s how most people tend to think about the word ‘gimmick’. They usually feel it’s just a trick or device meant to attract attention or publicity towards some product, individual, event or idea.

But in fact, gimmicks can actually mean a whole lot more than that. If you look closely, they are used in most industries, covering a wide range of things and activities.

Let’s check out what role gimmicks play in the world of video games and entertainment. In the gaming industry, the Nintendo Wii – and later, the Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move – was seen as a gimmick, with motion controllers being written off as a fad. Then, in the entertainment industry, 3D movies were seen as a gimmick, as many people felt it was being used to attract more moviegoers. In the world of salesmanship, gimmicks can come in multiple forms, such as a ‘sale day’, which pulls a lot of customers who would otherwise not pay attention.

Let’s now focus on the video gaming industry, especially on the art and craft of live streaming video games on popular platforms such as Twitch. Ask Twitch-focused gamers, and they are likely to tell you that ‘gimmicks’ aren’t just about seeking attention – they can be very useful and effective.

When is a Gimmick Bad? When is it Good?

Many gimmicks can certainly be bad, with some being nothing more than cheap distractions that wear thin and age quickly. Bad gimmicks are cheap, have little thought behind them, and don’t offer much in terms of substance. After a point of time, people see through them very easily. But a gimmick can be said to be good or successful if it manages to hold the attention of audiences for an extended period of time.

Fact is, the evolving world of live streaming is packed with gimmicks. They can be seen everywhere. The big difference between a gimmick that works and one that doesn’t is in their execution. So, let’s have a look at some great ideas of gimmicks that work when it comes to streaming video games – which you can try out yourself.

1) Playing with Added Challenges

blindfolded playthrough of Super Mario 64
Streamer Bubzia executed the fastest blindfolded playthrough of Super Mario 64.

A wonderful way to spice up your playthrough of a game – especially a retro one – is by playing with additional challenges or out-of-the-box rules in place. This is one of the most popular gimmicks that streamers often try out, as it makes watching their streams feel much more exciting for the viewers. And from a gamer’s point of view, it can make playing games much more fun.

Here are a few popular streaming challenges that you could try out on Twitch and/or other platforms:

  • Speed Runs – A speed run is a session of playing a certain game extremely fast. It’s one of the most popular types of challenges that gamers attempt on live streams. In fact, speed runs are so popular that many Twitch channels are entirely dedicated to speed-running specific games.
  • Artificial Hard Modes or Challenge Runs – Another great challenge that you can try out is to create your own Hard Mode for a game, in which you try adding an extra challenge to artificially make it more difficult and thrilling to play. One example of this is the famous Nuzlocke challenge for Pokemon games. What is the Nuzlock challenge? It’s a set of difficult, self-imposed rules that players introduce in their Pokemon games, such as only catching the first wild Pokemon in an area that they find, or releasing Pokemon after they faint, and other similar restrictions. There are plenty of streamers who solely stream Pokemon Nuzlocke runs, and they can grow fairly large audiences by doing so.
  • Playthroughs with Unique Controlling Methods – This is an odd gimmick, but one that works surprisingly well for many streamers. Some streamers have used abnormal controlling methods for playing through games with an added challenge, with one prime example being Peekingboo – a streamer who solely plays through games using a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) dance pad. Other streamers have successfully tried out similar challenges, such as using Guitar Hero guitar controllers or even the Donkey Konga bongos as controller alternatives.
  • Blindfolded Runs – Believe it or not, some brave gamers have gone as far playing through games in their entirety while wearing a blindfold! Obviously, it’s not something for the faint-hearted. And incredibly, it has been attempted in the past.

2) Roleplaying as a Character

BennyFits is a family-friendly channel on Twitch that features a puppet streamer.

An effective gimmick that many streamers often utilize is ‘roleplaying’ as a character – either original or pre-existing. YouTube streamer Dr. DisRepect is one of the most popular examples of this. Often referred to as Dr. D or The Doc, he live streams as a fictionalized version of himself. His larger-than-life character draws crowds largely because he offers something that is exactly that – larger than life.

Another great example is that of BennyFits, a live streamer who roleplays as a puppet. The stream identifies itself as a “streaming monster”, which makes for an equally entertaining and hilarious broadcast for viewers.

You can draw attention on a stream if you decide to roleplay as some sort of a character while live streaming. And it doesn’t have to be something as ambitious as learning how to become a puppeteer. Even something as simple as dressing up in a costume, or portraying yourself as an actor, can become a hit.

3) 12-hour/24-hour Marathon Streams

12-hour or 24-hour Marathon Streams


A popular gimmick that streamers love are ‘marathon streams’, which are typically 12 hours or 24 hours long in duration. These marathon streams are often done to celebrate reaching certain milestones. Streamers usually try out 12-hour streams for reaching the Affiliate status or for making it to a specific Follower count. This is a great way for streamers to celebrate with their fans, and it also allows their streams to be discovered by new viewers.

Here’s a note of caution for you, though. We don’t advise live streaming for so many hours without taking multiple breaks. That’s because spending such long hours at a stretch streaming is definitely not good for your health. If you decide to do a marathon stream, remember to eat well, drink plenty of fluids, and take regular breaks to catch some fresh air. Because marathons are never easy!

4) Special Streams for an Event, Holiday, or Charity

Live streaming to mark a special occasion or holiday is a great way to gain additional viewers. For example, consider dressing up in a Halloween costume for a Halloween stream! Many streamers do this for publicity, and it has been found to be effective when executed well.

Streaming for a charity or a humanitarian cause is another excellent idea. Audiences love contributing to a good cause. So if you want more viewers than usual, streaming while accepting donations on behalf of a charitable cause is a great move. There are many resources out there for hosting a charity on your stream, and doing so on Twitch is fairly easy. It’s not only a great way to boost viewership numbers, it’s also a way to help give back to a cause that you truly care about.

5) Get Weird with it

In a stream in April 2021, QTCinderella parodied other hot tub streams.

There are plenty of other gimmicks out there that work, other than the ones we already discussed. One that became quite popular in 2021 was the infamous ‘hot tub stream’. While it became quite controversial and drew a wave of negative feedback from viewers and streamers alike, the hot tub gimmick continues to be a popular one. In fact, it even got a dedicated category on Twitch entitled Pools, Hottubs, and Beaches.

Hot tub streams are actually important because they show that it’s still possible for streamers to become successful through the use of innovative gimmicks.

It’s Time to Try Them Out!

The world of streaming games is full of examples of how gamers can grab eyeballs and thrill audiences with creative and fun gimmicks. If you’re into streaming games to Twitch from Xbox, Playstation, or mobile device, then you should check out Lightstream because you won’t need a capture card or a high-end PC to do it. So, what are you waiting for? Power up Twitch, grab your console, and go for one of these tried-and-tested gimmicks or create your own signature one.