The Dark Side of Content
By: Crystal Mills
“Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
A career in esports and video games is a dream for many. Streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Imane “Pokimane” Anys, and Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo have all created massive careers in content creation, and helped push live streaming into a primary source of entertainment for several video game lovers. In addition, they’ve begun to change the way the industry operates.
Ninja, who began in Halo esports, exploded in popularity when he began streaming Fortnite. In 2018, he cashed in millions of dollars through his Twitch broadcasts and even broke records with streams such as his duo gameplay with rapper Drake. When he moved to Microsoft’s Mixer streaming platform, he launched a spiral of exclusivity deals for other streamers, eliminating the pressures of collecting a minimum amount of subscribers and viewers.
Content creators are landing sponsorship deals, both endemic and non-endemic, and developing lives only top list celebrities and athletes have obtained in the past. However, the life of a content creator isn’t just sitting in front of the screen. The work that demands attention behind the scenes is usually what ignites health issues and situations like gaming fatigue and burnout.
Understanding Your Role
Being a content creator isn’t about hurling out random videos and hoping an audience grows. You’re building a brand and an atmosphere that will attract a specific viewership. With the direct contact streaming on a platform like Twitch provides, it isn’t just about entertaining people anymore. It’s about nurturing and cultivating a thriving community.
If you’re a variety streamer then it all begins with your choice of games. Do you normally play shooters like Call of Duty or VALORANT? While the motto is “play what you enjoy,” realistically you’re going to attract a crowd that prefers shooters, especially as you grow your channel. The unfortunate truth is that if you move to a different game, you might not retain an audience, at least not right away. To many people, playing one title every single day grows old super fast.
When it comes to discovering a new streamer, everyone usually comes for the game and stays for the personality.
Look at Ninja, for example. While he began as a competitor in Halo, it was his skill in Fortnite that truly helped grow his channel. However, he also maintains high energy on camera, something many streamers find it difficult to do. A true community will stay no matter what’s being played on-screen, but you have to find what’s genuine and unique about yourself to hook them in.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
The grind mentality needs to be tossed out of the window. There is nothing healthy or productive about streaming 12 hours a day (or overnight), eating a poor diet, obtaining suitable sleep, and not exercising. While you may experience immediate success and drive, it’s not sustainable and could potentially harm your development in the industry.
Because ultimately when you begin streaming, you aren’t just streaming. If you’re serious about creating content, you’ve already started working on multiple avenues of publication. You’re editing videos for your YouTube channel. You’re posting clips on social media. Maybe you’re even creating content for Instagram or TikTok. It all blends together, and no one has the energy or motivation to work on editing after a 12 hour streaming session.
When you feel like you have to be on top of your game every day, everything else is neglected, and your love for gaming will quickly transform into something bitter.
“The problem with being a YouTuber or an online entertainer is that you constantly have to outdo yourself,” YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg said. “I think a lot of people get swept up in that … that they have to keep outdoing themselves. If you make videos every single day, it’s really tough to keep people interested, and keep them coming back.”
Katrina Gay, National Director for Strategic Partnerships at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told Polygon in 2018 that “No one tells you how many hours you should be working.
“You have to discover that for yourself. Maybe it’s after the fact, when you’ve realized, ‘I’ve overdone it and I’m not as healthy as I should be.’ You have to pause. The process of learning how to do that and when to do it is tough, but necessary. When people are learning to do that right in front of you, like YouTube, it’s modeling healthy behavior for an entire community.”