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My Time as a Streamer

Here’s the slippery slope that led me down this rabbit hole: I found an article talking about how Facebook is going to do away with the “Other” message inbox – meaning the inbox generally where all the spam sent to your Facebook inbox goes. They hadn’t quite done away with it yet, so for curiosity, I decided to rifle through mine. I expected to find a lot of junk. …I did find a fair bit of junk. What I didn’t expect to find were some really sweet messages actually directed to me.

They weren’t anything new, per se – they were just waiting for me in a place I wasn’t expecting. They were all one of two types – either a fan trying to add me on Facebook, or a developer reaching out to me to express thanks for playing their games or to offer me something.

I had also stopped streaming games for several months, and things kind of dropped off. Now they’re starting to pick back up again, but I haven’t read such nice messages in a while – and these felt worse because I never got to respond to them.

I’ll write a nice italics flashback to how I got started doing all this – feel free to skip over it for TLDR reasons.

One of each of those two types of message. I still am very flattered to receive them.

I started streaming video games about two and a half years ago, I think it is now. My first video ever was just posted on my own personal YouTube channel, and it was of me streaming Slender when it first came out. Watch it here. My friend kept me company to help keep my nerves steady. I already knew I loved playing horror, but more than that I wanted to be able to experience playing those games with my friends back home in Ontario. I missed them dearly and a lot of them told me how they loved watching the Slender video.

This led to a few more videos. SCP-087B was the second, and I followed up with several more horror games. My friends and I played Joust, and I posted that. I branched out into FarCry 3 and made that my first unofficial series (that linked clip has several good samples of the connected hijinx it provided).

Then I found out about what Twitch was, and I just dove right in headfirst. Instead of posting a video and talking to my friends back home about it later, I could tell them an EST time to tune into my channel and play with me in real time. It really brought me closer to the friends I missed so desperately, and went a long way to cure my homesickness. I got hooked. I never had a set schedule, but I filled all my free time with it; any time I’d usually be placing a skype call back home to family or friends, I’d just fire the stream up and off I’d go.

What I didn’t expect was that total strangers, people who I knew nothing about, also wanted to watch me play video games and talk to me. At first there were just passers-by, and then people I didn’t know at all started following me.

It snowballed a bit and I collected just shy of 200 followers on my channel – a very comfortable number that wins me anywhere between 2 and 20 viewers any given time I fire up the stream to play a game.

It really brought me closer to the friends I missed so desperately, and went a long way to cure my homesickness.

My first reaction was sadness – that I likely missed the chance to reach out to people to thank them for their messages and to let me know where they can get a hold of me for questions/comments on the channel (I’m still replying to all these people, those replies are up to two years late in some cases).

Then I realized a couple things. First of all, that I was not at all prepared to professionally handle fan or developer interactions. This is because I did not expect to have any.

Secondly, I realized that even if I had been, this probably happens to people with actual, real followings all the time. No matter whether or not they’ve set up fan pages everywhere and clear instructions on how best to get a response, their Facebook other box is still gonna be filled up too.

I think what worried me the most, and still does, is that my hyper casual approach to streaming comes off as flippant to anyone watching the show trying to interact with me. I never purposefully ignore any messages, even the mean ones. Part of having such a low number of viewers and fans means I can have actual, meaningful interactions with all of them every time, and that’s a joy to me, and one of the reasons I’d never want to get any actual real following.

I do still stream; I’m actually streaming a lot more now since my girlfriend is interested and enjoys playing games with me. I still do it for the same reason: I get to connect with my sister in Sask, my friends across Ontario, and even my uncle in the UK all at the same time. If other people do continue to take a liking to it, I just hope I can do right by them.

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