New Year, New Stream

I've been on hiatus from streaming for close to a month now. My next stream is slated to go live on Wednesday, January 10th now that we're past the holiday whirlwind; typically that time slot is dedicated to my World of Warcraft guild's Ret Pally Rehab raid team as we blast our way through whatever dungeon is hot right now (Antorus, at the time of this posting). I love my guild and I love the community and I love the privilege of gaming with everyone live and on-camera.

I hate that damn stream.

It sounded like a great idea at the time, and I think a lot of people even consider streaming in the first place because on the surface it sounds incredibly easy. Step one: open broadcasting software, step two: open game, step three: pewpew with an audience, right? Anyone could do this all day!

But a big part of streaming is keeping up your energy. Part of that is making sure that you have people in your channel to chat to you while you play and give you something to do, an audience to play to and with. Even when you have that, the longer your stream goes on and the more there is for you to need to focus on -- as there is when you're raiding -- those energy levels start spiraling downward faster than you'd expect. It's a constant battle of wanting to be social, but also wanting to be the best raider I can be to help my guild reach their goals.

(Insert joke about why choose to be a ret paladin, then, here.)

My energy levels are also a bit lower than usual because of major depressive disorder. I had a severe breakdown over the holidays and am getting the help I need to start walking down that road to recovery, but that also means I need to take time for myself and do what I can without pushing myself over the edge of the proverbial cliff. Three hours of bouncing my attention between Discord, the game, and Twitch chat, in addition to conversations off-camera that just happen naturally... well, I hope at least a few of you can see how that could get overwhelming and tiring very fast.

Ben's schedule has him getting home for the raid pretty much just as I'm about to go live. We like each other an awful lot and enjoy having time together, which is something that makes raid night extra special for us since we're able to indulge in a hobby we both enjoy. Dinner is a sacred thing to us; it's the first time all day we've had a chance to sit down together. When I'm streaming our raid, I often don't even get to eat dinner until our break at the halfway point since I don't want everyone to see me shoving food in my face on camera and I'm really terrible at eating and gaming at the same time. I could eat earlier in the evening, but that goes against my desire for Ben and I to have that Mutual Pizza-Devouring Time. Once the break happens I have about ten minutes to scarf down my whole meal, so I can't even really enjoy it. Then, since the raid goes till 9:30 at night and Ben's up early for work in the morning, we don't get that much quality time together afterwards. I go to bed exhausted, feeling like the whole evening was wasted and that I didn't even get to see him at all.

So this all leads to the question of why do I stream at all?

Easy answer: the people.

I don't stream to show off my prowess at a game, although I have a lot of respect for the professional gamers and hopefuls who stream for that purpose. My days of hardcore progression raiding ended right before Icecrown Citadel dropped and I realized that it had gone from being fun for me to being a job or a chore; I don't want to ever let it get to that point for me again. I stream because I want to chat with cool people on the internet and do stuff with them, to have a safe spot on the internet for people who love videogames to talk about the action onscreen and even in their own lives, a haven where we can all kick back and be friends even though we may be thousands of miles apart. I want to have fun. I want us all to have fun. I feel guilty when it takes me a minute or two to notice that someone's sent a message in Twitch chat because the audience is my priority.

After all, without the audience, I never would have made Twitch affiliate, and I'd be missing out on a lot of amazing friendships, some of which have even spilled over into the offline world! Without all of you fabulous people out there I'm just playing alone in a small corner of my apartment, talking to myself. That's nowhere near as fun as the alternative and I want to be able to focus on that.

So I'm not ditching the Wednesday stream, and there may be some Wednesdays when I'm feeling exceptionally perky and want to stream the raid -- but that's going to be separate from what I'm officially christening Wildcard Wednesday. The stream will happen earlier in the afternoon, between 3 and 4 pm PST, and it may be me cruising through D3 or getting smooshed in Hearthstone or doing vanity runs of World of Warcraft, but ultimately, it's going to be what I want to do, which I feel will help me be a happier and better host to my audience. Just thinking about it is making me want to stream again instead of filling me with the existential dread that often popped up on Wednesday morning, which I'm taking to be a very good sign, indeed!

You can catch the action on my Twitch channel and keep up-to-date on when I'm going live by following me on Twitter and Facebook. I really hope you'll join me in making 2018 a year of fun, friendship, and games!