Most of the time Dylan Beck works as a game designer in New Zealand. Like a lot of people, he goes to work at nine in the morning, gets off at six and goes home. Unlike most people, this is usually not the end of the work-day for Dylan, a.k.a. Rudeism.
Whereas most of us would spend our weekday nights playing #VideoGames in quiet isolation, Rudeism turns on his Logitech C920 camera and starts streaming his online escapades to his 25,000 followers on Twitch. Sounds tough, you think? Usually it isn't.
"Turning on my computer to start streaming after a day of work is actually never an oh shit feeling. Though there are times where I have to put on a face for the first five minutes in order to get in the mood," says the 26-year-old streamer.
We sat down with Rudeism, who's something like the McGyver of Twitch, for a talk about the hardships of juggling a channel with a daytime job and real life obligations.
To Enjoy Your Own Company
Rudeism started to stream in July 2015 playing games like Hearthstone and Rocket League. For a time he only had the five occasional viewers and earned a new follower or two each day. According to him, that period of a streamer's career can be difficult.
"Building up a fanbase of followers is definitely one of the harder parts of streaming. Just the fact that you have to sit there talking, even though there might be no one listening, can be frustrating. It's like keeping a conversation going in an empty room."
But talking to yourself is something you have to get good at when you start up a stream. Being able to have a conversation with yourself is essential, as when a viewer drops by, he or she generally doesn't want to watch a silent person playing a game.
Finding Your Streaming Niche
The future of Rudeism's stream started to look brighter after he managed to play Rocket League using a guitar from Guitar Hero. One of his viewers posted a link to his stream on Reddit, which really set things off.
Now he uses his skills as a game designer to build his own unique control methods, playing multiple games at once through them. He has beaten Skyrim using only voice commands, got to level 100 in World of Warcraft using a dance pad and played Winston in Overwatch using real bananas.
"I guess I found my niche when I put together my skills as a game designer and streamer. I always try to come up with these rather stupid challenges for myself, and it has allowed me to differentiate myself from other streamers, which can be difficult and tiresome since there are so many people competing for attention," says Rudeism.
It Eats Up Your Time
It's unavoidable in all aspects of life; if you want to be good at something, you have to sink a large portion of time into it. This is especially true as a streamer, since you need to establish a foothold with your viewers in order develop an audience for your channel. You do this either by being unreasonably skilled, wholly original, funny or just very strange, but you won't get around the fact that you need to have a reliable streaming schedule so viewers know when to find you.
"I think reliability is key, especially in the start up phase. People should know when your stream is there for them on a regular basis. Consistency helps build up your viewer base, but it's also what can impede other aspects of your life," says Rudeism.
He doesn't stream full time, but he'd probably do it if he didn't love his job as much as he does. Even for a part time streamer—who spends 12 hours in front of the camera and about 8 hours preparing each week—the obligations of a Twitch channel has consequences:
"It's probably not that big of an issue if you stream full time, but when you have another job on the side, the balancing of the stream, work, social life, your girlfriend and other aspects is very hard, and it can definitely be difficult to consistently maintain a streaming schedule."
A Volatile Business
Rudeism spends around eight hours a week coordinating his stream, talking to business partners, initiating related projects, updating overlays and maintaining stream quality. It's all off camera, and it takes a lot longer than the average non-streamer might imagine.
According to Rudeism, that's also one of the downsides of streaming. To spend so much time preparing something that you're not sure will even pay off.
"It's an unstable business. You don't how many donations or subscribers you'll get each day, and I imagine it could feel a bit unsafe to base your entire income on something so volatile. It does work for some people though," says Rudeism.
Transmitting The Right Vibe Can Be Difficult
In order to maintain a successful stream, Rudeism has a couple of rules he goes by. First and foremost, if he's not in the mood to start streaming he won't.
"If you want to succeed as a streamer, you should enjoy the work. People can tell if you don't. Different streamers have a different approach to the job, but I want to create a positive stream with a friendly chat, and in order to do that I have to project those feelings myself."
To make sure that's always the case, Rudeism doesn't stream if he's not feeling up for it or if he's too tired, sick or even hungover; he usually streams six hours from 12 pm on Sundays, so if he's out Saturday night it'll occasionally effect the next day's stream.
"I'd rather tell my followers on Twitter that I'm cancelling the day's stream because I'm feeling burned out, than having a stream which I'm not enjoying. The viewers will usually see right through that, and it won't support the positive vibe I want my stream to have," says Rudeism.
You Never Know Who Might Be Watching
Even though Rudeism chases a positive buzz on his channel, he mentions that trolls are unavoidable when you stream. It's something you should just learn to deal with as a streamer, because even though people can get rude, it's nothing a quick ban won't solve.
The worst experience Rudeism has had with malignant viewers was when he accidentally showed his address and credit card information when trying to purchase a new dance pad.
"It was stupid really, and something you should never do no matter how nice your chat is. I immediately called up my bank who shut down my card, but in the minutes gone by someone had already tried buying some stuff online with my account details."
The incident also resulted in Rudeism's address being revealed and reviewed by several users on Google+.
It's Still Worth It
But despite the hardships involved in streaming full or part time, Rudeism is still glad he's able to do the job.
"It's very fulfilling and something I wouldn't be without. I feel lucky to have my game designer job, which fulfills one kind of purpose for me, and my streaming, which fills another need. It gives you this form of instant gratification when people watch and appreciate what you do," says Rudeism.
And the best thing he ever experienced as a streamer?
"It was definitely when I hit level 100 on the dance pad in World of Warcraft. It had been a fun but at times also insanely infuriating leveling experience, and to finally reach the final level, while the stream was going crazy and people were cheering me on, was really great."
[SongCloud credit: Performed by Old Wave, written and composed by The Beach Boys & Brian Wilson a.k.a. god]