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Mixer

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Mixer App Poster Image
Livestream platform is packed with features and no lag.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The app is generally straightforward, showing content directly on the screen for viewers to preview. The live chats are also simple and easy to use, with a lot of options for viewers to interact with the streams. Navigating through some of the menus can get a little complicated, especially if trying to set up a broadcast from your mobile device. 

Violence

Parents should pay close attention to what kids are watch via Mixer. While the platform does allow channels to be categorized by content, such as Teen and Mature channels, it’s still best to pay attention to content. Streamers may play an all ages game one day and a graphically violent game the next.

Sex

Due to the wide range of content on livestreams, parents should monitor their kids’ viewing. Some channels may stream footage from games that include more sexually charged content than others.

Language

As with other content, this is a particular area for parents to monitor. While streamers do have access to moderation tools in their channels, it’s still possible for someone to sign into a livestream and use inappropriate language without warning, regardless of a channel’s rating. Some language may also come up uncensored in game footage or commentary.

Consumerism

Viewers can support their favorite personalities and channels through online donations, or through paid features available for use in chat during livestreams.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Although it’s rare that viewers will come across streamers that are smoking or drinking on-air, it’s possible that there may be references to alcohol, smoking, or drugs in the livestream chats or in the footage of the various games being broadcast.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mixer is a livestream entertainment platform available on iOS and Android platforms, as well as its website, Xbox One gaming console and Windows PCs. The platform allows viewers and streamers to come together in a diverse community focused on gaming. Streamers can broadcast game footage, live events, etc., while interacting in real-time with viewers via online chat and commentary. Content and channels usually have self-appointed rating categories, including All Ages, Teen, and Mature. Parents should still closely monitor what their kids are watching on Mixer due to the variety of live content being broadcast at any given time. This can include footage from games that may include explicit violence, sexual content, profanity, and other mature content. There's also the possibility that, despite moderation tools, some inappropriate language or conversation could be viewed in the online chats.

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What's it about?

MIXER is a Microsoft-owned platform that allows gamers to broadcast their gameplay or original content as live, online streaming content, complete with features that allow viewers to interact with the livestream in real-time. Viewers, meanwhile, can follow their favorite channels through the apps, getting notifications when programming goes live, watching the programs on their favorite devices and taking an active role in the programming through online chats and other interactive features. Whether you want to check out all the latest game announcements and events, get some good tips on how to play your favorite game, or just have fun checking out some cool teamwork in a four person split-screen co-broadcast, Mixer’s got plenty of content for your game broadcast or viewing needs.

Is it any good?

It should come as no surprise that, if there’s a game out there that someone’s playing, there’s an audience that wants to check it out. While Twitch might be the current king of the livestreaming market, Microsoft’s Mixer brings with it a host of exclusive and powerful features that make it a real contender for Twitch’s crown.  One of Mixer’s biggest features is a massive benefit to both broadcasters and viewers alike: the FTL protocol. While there’s a lot of technobabble behind how exactly FTL works, the simple explanation is that it allows the broadcasting of content in a livestream with virtually no lag. Usually, when watching a stream, there’s a buffer of five to ten seconds or more between when something happens and when viewers actually see it (and vice versa). This can make for awkward interactions in things like live chat. With Mixer, though, instant interactions open up a host of new possibilities. Audiences can even take part in interactive streams where they can have an impact on the gameplay in real-time. This also allows for some other unique functions, such as split-screen co-broadcasting support for multiple players. It’s one thing to watch a one person in squad vying for control of a battlefield, but it’s something altogether different to see four members of a team working as a cohesive unit onscreen all at the same time.

The Mixer app serves as a massive hub for livestreaming content. Through the app, audiences can follow all their favorite channels and get notifications when those channels go live with new material. They can also check to see which games and programs are trending, and even participate in interactive chats. Viewers earn “Sparks” by both broadcasting and by viewing streams, which can in turn be used to buy “Skills,” fun effects like fireworks and animations to share in the chat. Using these Skills doesn’t just add an extra layer of interactivity to the chats, but also shows support for the channel and can even generate extra income for the broadcaster. And Microsoft is constantly adding more new features to Mixer to enhance both the broadcasting and viewing experience. Still, Mixer isn’t without its issues. For starters, navigating through the deluge of content can be a mess. Between trending channels, recommended channels, followed channels, and the like, it’s sometimes hard, especially in the mobile app, to tell what is what. And even though channels might have content descriptions or ratings, there’s not much to stop a younger viewer from stumbling into a channel that might be broadcasting footage from a more Mature-themed game, or into a chat that might not necessarily be age-appropriate. While these are issues that face almost any livestreaming platform, it’s definitely means that parents with younger kids should keep a close eye on exactly what those kids are watching and/or following.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about responsible viewing habits. What types of content are acceptable or unacceptable for the kids in the household? How can parents monitor what their kids are watching, and what should kids do when they come across objectionable content?

  • What are some of the positive benefits to taking an active part in online conversations? What are some good rules to have to for kids to safely interact with others online, and how can kids protect themselves from threatening or offensive interactions?

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