In March of 2015, a very close friend of mine asked me what I knew about streaming on Twitch. My friend Adam had a nephew that wanted to get into streaming, and he was searching for anyone that knew how to get started. It's funny when I think about it, because in many ways that was Adam identifying that I was just the kind of person who would be interesting in streaming. He knew me better than I knew myself.
"I don't know anything about streaming" was the answer I gave, and it was the truth. I had only visited Twitch a small handful of times prior. I didn't even have an account registered for the site. But the question got me thinking about the process, and my curiosity took over. When I got home from work, I started looking into how broadcasters setup their streams. After I familiarized myself with the software and hardware side of things. I watched a few streams to see how others were using the tools. This continued for days as I went down the rabbit hole. How do they change their layouts for different games? How do they do the notifications? It was interesting, even if I was really doing research for a friend. I eventually downloaded OBS and tested "going live" for a few seconds. I didn't really broadcast anything, but I was live for the first time.
After I took a hard look into it, I went back to my friend weeks later to report my findings. I felt like I knew enough to help someone get started. By this time, Adam's nephew had given up on wanting to stream. I was kind of bummed to hear that, because I had all this newfound knowledge that I wanted to utilize. A few days went by, and the itch to do more with broadcasting failed to go away. I'm the kind of person that loves to learn, but I also love to use what I learn. I didn't want all that research to go to waste.
I decided that I would try streaming for fun. My decision was so different from many others that get into streaming, because I wasn't motivated to turn this into any type of career. I already had a career and a family. I was just really excited to play games, meet new people that liked the same games, and use the knowledge that I had gained. I did a few more "test broadcasts" before going live for real for the first time in May of 2015. I started by streaming MOBA games, because those were what I was playing the most back then. I liked the idea of playing team based games while streaming because I wanted to be able to play with the people who wandered into chat. It was a small but reasonable goal, or so I thought.
I almost gave up very early on. I streamed for two weeks before I got my first viewer. Danny "Shaman_Don" came by and hung out for a bit. He didn't even play League of Legends, but another streamer he was watching had been playing the game so he was checking other people out. It was nice to finally have someone stop by, and it encouraged me to keep going. Danny is still around as one of my mods, and biggest supporters.
I finally did get a few viewers, and I met several other people in the Twitch community. I moved on from playing MOBAs to also playing FPS games, single player games, and pretty much whatever people were suggesting. I got some better equipment (donations from viewers) that allowed me to hook up a webcam and a much better microphone. My initial goal was met. I was having a blast making friends and playing games. The problem is that I'm not the kind of person who can just reach a goal and be content. I'm always looking to "what's next." That career I mentioned earlier? By this point I was working and going to school full time for my masters degree because I wanted to teach college courses. The same thing happened with the stream. I wanted to do more with it. I wanted to work on improving the quality of the stream. I wanted to learn how to make my own layouts. I collaborated with an artist to make my logo. I setup a website, and I setup a gear store. These moves were only ever for personal, selfish reasons. I was having fun with what I was doing, and I wanted to get some shirts with my own logo on it. I never really expected other people to buy stuff, nor did I have any illusions about making money from it. It's not like I had a large audience. In fact, my wife had a bigger audience than I did. She was beginning to "guest stream" on my channel, and she always pulled in more viewers. It's not really a surprise though. She's very entertaining and far more animated than I am. She was playing horror games, and I still laugh when I watch those clips back. But the audience was small, just barely in the double digits. I didn't expect anyone to care about my website or gear. It was just for me. Despite my expectations, a few people did end up buying stuff, so I used the money from that to start doing giveaways.
In July of 2016, things really started to change for me. I had finished my masters degree, and I got a part time job as an adjunct college professor. I was going to be teaching at night in addition to my day job. But this isn't the only thing that changed for me. I was accepted into the beta for The Elder Scrolls: Legends. I love card games. I always have. I could write another post about my history with them, and it would likely dwarf this one in length. I also had really enjoyed Skyrim, so I was eager to try the game out. Spoiler alert: I really enjoyed it. When the NDA was lifted, I started playing it on stream. Shortly after that, I started making some YouTube content for it as well. I was just really enjoying the game, and I was excited to share that excitement with others.
Over time, I started seeing some new faces visiting the stream. Even better, I started noticing that they were coming back. The growth was slow, but it was noticeable. My YouTube videos were generating some traffic as well. I was still in love with the game, so I kept streaming it. I kept making videos for it. The community was great. I began meeting people that I thought of as actual friends. There are several members that I talk to regularly, and I met them as a result of Legends.
In December of 2016, I got an email from a Bethesda employee. I was being invited to showcase the new "Chaos Arena" game mode with other content creators. We would be playing it early, and we could make content about it. I was in shock. I seriously thought it might be a fake email. Why would they pick me? I'm just some regular Joe who makes videos for fun. But I got in touch with people at Bethesda, and they confirmed that it was a real invitation. I was ecstatic. I've playtested games early before. I was a game tester for Decipher (they made card games), and for Wizkids (they make miniature games). They would send me content early, and I would play through it and offer feedback on balance and so forth. But I was always subjected to an NDA for those games. This was the first time I got to do something early and tell people about it. I had so much fun playing through that event. It was at that point that I knew there was no going back. I was going to be streaming Legends for the foreseeable future.
Over the next six months, viewership would continue to slowly grow. I was allowed to debut a card for The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood expansion, as well as for Heroes of Skyrim. I was allowed to play on test servers ahead of time and share that experience with everyone. It's been a dream come true. I'm still kind of in awe when I think about it. As I write this, I'm preparing to be a guest on the Bethesda stream for Legends today. I'm going to hang out with Pete Hines and play some Chaos Arena, the first game mode I got to preview ahead of time. The whole thing is surreal, and it hasn't really sunk in yet.
This post isn't just about my guest spot on the Bethesda stream today. There is another reason for the nostalgia. I wanted to recap the journey before I made one last announcement, and before I said "thank you" officially. I'm proud to share that I am now an official partner with Twitch. By the time this article is posted, my first round of emotes and chat badges will be live.
If you're reading this, chances are you were one of my viewers at some point. Thank you for stopping by. Thank you for hanging out with me and watching me play games. I got into streaming to meet people and have fun, and it's because of you that I am still doing it. It's because of you that I get to take part in these amazing adventures. I'm often baffled that anyone comes by at all. I don't feel like I'm particularly entertaining. I don't pretend to be a pro. I'm just a guy who is passionate about games. So I really do appreciate everyone who watches in spite of my flaws as an entertainer. I am thankful that so many of you come back, even with my spotty schedule. To those who can't catch my stream because of my weird start times, thank you for watching the YouTube content. Thank you for being welcoming to not just me, but to my family. Thank you for watching my wife play games. Thank you for putting up with pictures of my kids and dogs on Twitter. Just thank you. That's all I can say. The truth is, I don't really have the right words to articulate how grateful I am.
Darick "CHARM3R" and family
I love all of you