I’ve been playing DayZ over the past few days (weeks?).

I’ve been playing DayZ a lot. It hurts me financially to do so. I don’t really make enough solely on subs to sustain myself (though the additional income via computer building now is kind of nice), and I do need to stream to sustain my income. So why the shortage of streams lately?

When I started streaming a long time ago, the reason why I started streaming was because I knew it was something I could be good at. I’m a naturally funny person, I’m smart enough to make jokes and I’m reflective enough to understand what I need to change when it comes to entertaining other people. These are qualities that I’ve worked on since a very young age; since I started playing games with a friend growing up, when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old. Me and a couple little black dudes that lived near my grandma grew up playing NES->SEGA/SNES games together, and it was always a good time. Growing up some more from that, I made friends with Chris, who lived behind my house for some time, and then Frank and Kyle as I got to middle school.

A lot of my life revolved around playing games, and a lot of the skills that I picked up in life were acquired from playing games. The only reason I did as well as I did in school (despite being a horrible slacker) was because of my early addiction to games like Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, Parasite Eve, Shining Force, etc…If you can read and comprehend text quickly, you’re set for everything up to grade 12.

As I grew older, games continued to be a central part of my life. One of the most entertaining phases was around 5th grade, when I was playing MUDs online. MUDs are essentially text-based RPGs, where you leveled characters in worlds and interacted with other players. The entire purpose of a lot of these games (especially on SWR-based engines) was to discovering bugs or flaws that would yield large advantages. Things like crafting containers with 5,000 characters, dropping them in a room, then waiting for an enemy to walk in, auto-view the container (causing him to disconnect due to buffer overflow), and then kill him…these things were relatively common place. It was amazing fun. It was one lateral thinking exercise after another. What if your character gets punished and sent to hell? There was typically no way out, not unless an imm (that stands for “Immortal”, the admins of MUDs) removed you. But you could create a second account, acquire a grenade, hide it in a container (so an imm wouldn’t see), break a rule to get that account helled, then drop the grenade in hell after activating it to kill the original character helled, causing him to respawn out of hell. There were literally a million little bugs, both discovered and (I’m sure) still undiscovered, that players could exploit to screw each other over.

Regardless, through all of these games that I grew up playing, I was always playing games with other people. Even though I was a “nerd” in a lot of respects (played games, was in band, loved music, etc…) I was amazingly social. Even the jocks in school knew me well for rastlin’ the jammies of a lot of the other kids. It’s amazing with how much shit I could talk and get away with in high school; people would always let it slide by because I was funny, though. Really funny.

So streaming is obvious to me. I can play games, and I can have people watch me play games and enjoy it. It’s not work to me. It’s cake. I can make jokes while playing (I’ve been doing it all my life), I enjoy the challenge and competitive aspect of playing games, and I tend to like most of the games that I play. Opening a door to invite others to take part in that experience is almost the natural evolution of everything I’ve been doing in my life.

DayZ reminds me of a lot of the older games that I used to play. I’ve been playing with some t2 subs over the past few weeks and it’s been amazing. There’s a lot of jostling of jimmies, a lot of joking around, a lot of talking shit, and a lot of fun playing. It feels like I’m actually playing and enjoying games again with other people who play and enjoy games. It sounds silly to say it that way, but that feeling is completely absent in a lot of the games I’ve been playing recently. I’m not under the illusion that a lot of people play with me at the moment “because I’m Destiny”, etc…but at the very least it seems they’re enjoying themselves as well, and they don’t have any problem giving me shit as well.

Everything about streaming and being a relatively popular figure carries so much vitriol with it.

When I’m playing League of Legends, I just want to play League and improve my game. I don’t want to play several games in a day where I wind up in queue with someone going “Oh great it’s this faggot, Destiny”, or “rofl this fucking kid feeds all day”, or even have them on the enemy team “rofl go back to sc2 scrub” “why the fuck are you so bad, how is your stream even popular.”

I am almost a sociopath in regards to both my personal relationships and when dealing with strangers over the internet. I’m not a person who logs off every night, frustrated from solo-queuing, and cries on his pillow because of random internet haters. But after a while, it starts to wear on me, and it makes the entire experience so “not fun” anymore. I can only queue so many games in row with people talking shit over and over and over again before it becomes dreadful to me. It’s not fun to verbally combat person after person, especially when we’re not even engaged in a 1v1. It’s become hard for me to even tell how much I’m improving or not because I play so many games where it’s constantly 2v3 or 2v4. Coupling that with the constant onslaught of verbal abuse, it just makes it impossible to have fun playing a game. I don’t feel like anyone else playing ranked games even enjoy playing, or even want to improve. It’s just a constant shit-fest of people bitching at each other. There are a few games that are fun to play, because there will be a couple of other people in the games that are clearly having fun, but the majority of games are just filled with people who either know me and want to fuck with me, or who are just generally lame people to play games with.

In case you’re wondering, SC2 was more or less the same as well.

Playing games in Diamond I was literally the most fun I’ve had in League a long time because there were actually players more popular than me in a lot of the games. It was an amazing feeling, watching other lanes getting camped over and over again because the person was a popular streamer or an LCS player. Or being in a game where no one really “knew” me as well as the other popular players.

The biggest problem, though, is that it’s not just the players that are sucking the fun out of the game, it’s the audience a lot, too. I don’t necessarily mean my stream viewers (although there is evidence of it happening there), but mainly the entire community of people who rally around “e-sports”. Obviously we tend to “nostalgia” the past with rose-tinted glasses, but gamers were a small enough minority (at least where I grew up) that people were just that…gamers. If you played games, chances are you could play games with other people, and enjoy yourself doing it.

All of these conversations have happened to you at one point in time if you played a lot of games as a kid:

“Oh, you play games? We could play Halo some time!”

“You’re a gamer? Who’s your favorite character in SSMB?”

“Mario Kart? Do you know about the shortcut jump on Rainbow Road?”

This whole fierce allegiance that people feel to a particular video game is so unlike anything I’ve ever grown up with in my life. The idea that you can alienate different gamers because they play a game that’s different than the game you play is such a foreign concept outside of this whole “e-sports” shit. I guess it kind of started a long time back with hardcore 1.6 kids, but I feel like it’s more present today than ever, especially with League becoming as popular as it is.

Even during sub game days, it’s impossible to just have fun in games. Everyone acts like every person has to play perfectly at all times. If someone is playing a champ that they’ve never played before, or I’m jungling a champ I’ve never played before, the chat is full of stupid shit whenever something goes wrong. It’s almost like people have completely forgotten that playing games is just supposed to be fun. It’s so annoying having a chat full of people who act like they are LCS players, all giving insane, destructive criticism at every single opportunity. This isn’t something that’s even unique to my chat. It happens in the LoL forums and it happens in the lolgens as well.

Starting on Monday I’ll return to my more strict schedule of streaming by 1EST for 8 or so hours, but I’m kind of doing it begrudgingly at this point. It’s so hard to look forward to a day of games filled with people in search of their 5 minutes of fame. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to go back to being relatively unknown with 50 viewers, just so I could enter every game as “another person”, rather than “omg Destiny”.