One of the things that I am planning on doing this year on Checkpoint is interviewing friends and family in order to better understand their relationships with things like video games and films but also to understand some of their challenges and motivations that they have in 2022 or have faced in the past.
The below interview is actually one done last year for the TripleXP blog but while that blog has currently been paused, it’s an interview that I have been given permission to share, and feel should be published. For those of you who aren’t aware, TripleXP is a bi-weekly podcast ran by three of my friends (Shane, Mike & Colin) that talks about similar topics that Checkpoint does; video games & the industry, TV & film as well as ‘human interest’ pieces (a bit of a stretch). Although helmed by these three, it also has a great active discord (drop me a message on Twitter if you want in) of people who just chat about crap, support the channel and sometimes we even make guest appearances on the Podcast. As a result though, a cool little community has been built and Sarah, who you will meet in a minute, numbers as one of the founding members.
She is a great member of the team and although she hasn’t been streaming recently she was good fun to watch and showed how great streamers do it. Within the Discord and TripleXP team she has run some pretty inspiring quizzes that have reduced us to tears and her artwork is of a level that you will never forget as it is seared into your brain… but with all that said, lets meet Sarahforthewine.
Name: Sarah (no surprise there)
Skillset: Tech Support, Audio/Video
Primary Consoles: PC, Switch
R: Welcome Sarah! Right, before we get into Video games and stuff, lets start with you telling us something we may or may not know about you!
S: I was born and raised in South Korea! I was born there and my parents decided to live there for a while. My mom is Korean and my father thought that it would be important for me to speak the language so they sent me to a Korean language school before I was sent off to a private school on the military base. I didn’t know any English at all when I started preschool and picked it up by just hanging out with my kids during the day! I don’t remember anything about it but I can’t imagine I had a lot of fun since I didn’t understand anyone, haha.
R: That’s mad that you picked up your English just by hanging out with kids. To be honest, you never would have known that that’s how you learnt to speak English, let alone that English wasn’t your first language! I know a lot of people who have English as their first language and they can’t even string a proper sentence together so that’s pretty impressive.
R: So, now that you have bragged about your grasp of two languages, tell me, what is your favourite video game and why?
S: My favourite video game of all time is Persona 4. I’ve never played a video game like that in my life, and found that growing relationships was more satisfying than shooting people. I loved the lore and the backstory of every character. I’ve played JRPGs before, but the way this was done was so different. I loved memorizing which shadows were weak to what moves and it was the first time I was soooo invested in a game’s story! The twists the game gives you are insane and things that happened to different characters feel so intense because you get so invested in everyone. Favourite series of all time!!!
R: I’ve not actually played 4 but having finished 5 I would love to go back and try it but I also don’t know if I will ever have the time to put into a game that size again… That said, if it was remade or remastered there is a high chance I would give it a go. I know what you mean as well about the relationships v shooting – its very easy to have a mindless game which can be short term adrenaline bursts when often the substance of a good game lies in its ability to make you empathise and care about the characters to the point that their story sticks with you long after the credits roll.
R: With the idea that good games stick with you, if you could delete one game from your memory so you could play it all again, what would it be and why?
S: Bioshock. 100%. I’ve played games with different twists but when the one for Bioshock happened, it literally turned my world upside down. It was the first time, after playing a game, I sat there and questioned everything I did and thought about every move I made and how each move impacted the rest of the game. When I first tried to play it, I was younger and the first 5 minutes freaked me out so bad that I couldn’t continue. It took me 2 years to pick it back up and I’m glad I did because I don’t think I would have been ready to really understand what happened when I first tried to start it. I would love to play that game over again for the first time and feel that surreal feeling I got.
R: I agree. That game was something else. It really makes you question the agency of both the character and you as a player and how much your decisions actually meant in the context of the game. Given it is now a pretty famous twist as well, I imagine reliving that would be pretty intense and surreal to experience that all over again.
R: I mentioned at the start as well that you have streamed in your time but as a female streamer, what sort of issues have you come across in your career and how do you deal with them? You hear a lot about women who stream having a tough time when they go live to the point that it makes them quit or impacts their mental health so it would be good to understand if you have had any issues in a hopes that it raises awareness for such behaviour.
S: I think I’ve been lucky as a female streamer. Of course I’ve gotten my fair share of trolls, but it never got to the point where I was having to deal with them every day. I think I got a bad egg once every few months. However, there were some CREEPY moments. There was one guy, I’m not going to mention his name, that seemed like he was nice but would say weird things like how he could shut my computer off at any moment and kind of talked like he knew some of my personal information. One day, I had had enough and went to his page to check out what he was about AND HE HAD MY FACE EVERYWHERE. Banner, twitch offline picture, avatar, in his bio, his profile picture…IT WAS ALL ME. And it wasn’t professional photos or anything, it was just screenshots he had taken during some of my streams. IT WAS SO CREEPY. So I blocked him and thought it was the end but then he showed up on Twitter and Twitch at some point. There’s this other guy that shows up once every 3 months asking me if I’m dominant and if I could send him pictures of my feet and then gets sad if I don’t reply. He doesn’t bug me but I’m just like….who the hell are you haha? One time, I was doing an IRL stream, someone came in and said I looked like an ugly whore! Our friend GMT was in there and I was just like YEAAAHH UGLY WHORES!! And GMT wrote back UGLY WHORES UNITE!! And it just became a thing from there haha. I’ve been really good with stuff like that. I don’t get bothered by someone coming in and being mean. I’ve definitely had my fair share of people telling me how ugly I am and how much I suck at video games but I found the best way to go about it is to be like “lol omg i know right” and they usually just drop it. People can say whatever they want about me! I have pretty thick skin so it’s easy for me to deal with. I can’t imagine what it would be like for people who have a harder time letting stuff like that fly over their heads.
R: Its great that you can handle it like you do but that all sounds rough no matter how you are able to cope with it. It’s a shame that some people out there don’t understand and respect boundaries and that you need to adopt that attitude at all. This is a side of streaming I have never been unlucky enough to experience, for obvious reasons, and I have never had the misfortune of seeing but I have heard that people can act like that. It sounds like you take it on the chin but its a real shame you have to act like that in the first place.
R: Aside from the challenging people that you have come across in your time streaming, what got you into streaming and what has your journey looked like? Also, where do you see it going, if anywhere?
S: My streaming journey has been a lot of fun. I went from knowing nothing about audio/video stuff to being able to set up a whole stream in 30 minutes. JB (my partner) wanted to stream and I just gave him a list of things he would need to buy and after he bought everything, I set it all up! I know a lot more about how streaming works in general. I also realized how important it is to just be yourself. I’ve made such amazing friends being me instead of trying to be someone I’m not. Earlier on in my streaming career, I tried to play a persona. I thought it would be easier to do that than to just be me. It just became work and I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Once I just played games and said whatever came to my head whenever it did, people started to stay and wanted to talk to me. I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years now. I had a pretty slow growth but the people that have stuck around have been around since the beginning almost! It first was a thing I was trying to make a THING out of, but then I realized I just enjoyed the company. I was a hermit (still am, but I have an SO roommate) and it really helped me to socialize. It also helped me become less of a pansy and allowed me to venture into more horror games. Now I really love them and play them on my own time! I then dabbled in cooking streams and it was getting a good amount of traction but…I don’t know. I just have so many things I want to do. Waking up early to stream just wasn’t a priority anymore. Now, I’d rather wake up early to work out. That’s more satisfying to me. I don’t think that my streaming journey is over, but it definitely is on pause for now.
R: Given your experiences and your time spent streaming, what advice would you give novice streamers? It can be quite daunting getting into it and often getting in front of the camera for the first time doesn’t come naturally to some people so how do you overcome that? And finally, where do you think your journey will take you next?
S: For novice streamers, please don’t pay attention to any of the numbers. If you’re streaming for numbers, you’re never going to have a good time. I didn’t get 10+ viewers until after 2 years of streaming. I did it because it was something I enjoyed and I had more fun getting to know the people than watching the numbers go up. The less you care about the numbers, the more exciting streaming is. Also, try to work on not letting the trolls get to you! Try to remember that they’re probably having a hard time in some aspect of their lives and are using a computer as a way of letting that go. Of course it’s not okay to let someone bully you, but just try to remember that they’re probably being bullied too. Have a little compassion and instead of fighting back, just make them feel like everything is okay. There are some people that’ll stop because what you said touches them, but some people are just going to be annoyed that they didn’t bother you and will try to bother you harder. It’s hard when anyone says anything bad about you, but it has nothing to do with YOU. It has everything to do with them. Another piece of advice is: play the games YOU want to play. I tried to stream games that people wanted to see and it just wasn’t fun. People don’t want to watch someone play a game that they aren’t enjoying. The more you care/like what you’re doing, the more people will feel it. Just be yourself, play what you want to play, and don’t do things for other people. I think that’s the most important. To do it for yourself and nobody else. Otherwise, it’s going to feel like a job and it’s just not going to last. Like I said, I’ve taken about a month off from it at this point but that’s because my priorities have shifted. I enjoyed every second of my streaming career (it’s probably not over!) and it really is because I just do what I want and say what I want. The friends I’ve made through twitch will be friends I cherish for the rest of my life.
R: Makes absolute sense – it’s all about personality. If you play the games you want and you enjoy yourself then the chat that follows you enjoys themselves too. At the end of the day, most of the time people don’t come to watch miserable streamers so if you can get that energy going then its a great start. Its then about that slow build and enjoying yourself and not burning yourself out!
R: Hopefully we will see you make a glorious return to Twitch and on the podcast, but of course if not, your socials are up at the top and you can be found in the TripleXP discord as well! Thanks for your time and chatting and I am sure it’s not the last we hear from Sarahforthewine!
As mentioned at the start, this was an interview that was due to be published in 2021 but given Sarah’s experience in streaming I think its important to share these stories when you can to raise awareness of the darker side of platforms like Twitch. Since this interview, we have had the leaks of the earnings where there was a clear divide between male and female streamers as well as plenty of controversy around women in streaming. It’s important that, where possible, this behaviour is highlighted and reported to ensure Twitch becomes and remains a safe place for anyone wanting to stream.
I will be looking at doing an interview a month, with February’s looking like it will be Shane, one of the hosts of TripleXP. If there are any pressing questions you would like to put to him, then let me know!
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