“What are you, like, 70?”
I get that a lot.
“Thanks, dude. Yup, I’m 70. Started gaming while I was riding my dinosaur, using a club and some small stones.”
Such is the life of an older Twitch streamer.
I suppose some background is in order. I haven’t been gaming since the time of dinosaurs, but I was there when “Pong” came out, and it was glorious. Sure, it was just two white paddles and a square “ball” bouncing across a flickering, black-and-white television, but you have to remember: we’d never seen anything like it before. “Gaming” when I grew up meant board games. If you were playing Monopoly with your friends on a rainy day, you were gaming.
I’ve watched the evolution of gaming since those early black and white days. From the early arcades, to the home consoles, to Intellivision and Atari, to the Amiga and DOS-based PC games, all the way up to the current consoles. I’ve seen them all, and enjoyed playing hundreds of games on dozens of systems. (That includes the old Nintendo Duck Hunt game, but it’s probably best not to talk about that here.) So, when I discovered Twitch, I was intrigued. I mean, I remembered my arcade days. My friends and I would hang out, saving our space in line for a particular game with a quarter on the edge of the screen, and watch the current player chase some ghosts through the maze. But it hadn’t occurred to me that the interest in watching other people play video games ever extended beyond the people in your living room, or in your party. So I had to check it out, and I was fascinated.
I found myself watching dozens of games, and dozens of streamers; I watched games I played, games I wanted to play, and games I’d never heard of, and loved it. Sure, some streamers were better than others, but the gameplay was always entertaining, and the good streamers – the ones who interacted with the audience – made those entertaining games even more so.
I had to try it, but I knew right away that I faced a potential problem. I’m no spring chicken. Even though I’ve been an avid gamer for my entire life, I’m now in my fifties. When I first thought about live-streaming, I pictured Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to lead a team against Lebron James. Michael was the best basketball player in the game in his day, but “his day” was 20 years ago. So was mine. Would the twitch community want to watch some old guy trying to show off his rusty old skills on a live stream? Well, there was only one way to find out.
In April 2016, I took the plunge and signed up for a Twitch account. I was working my way through Star Wars: Battlefront, learning the ins-and-outs of multiplayer, and decided that would be a good first game to stream. I went live and played to an audience of one – me – for several days.
Now, I’m a stream-of-consciousness gamer and by that I mean, when I’m playing, I’m talking to the game. “Let’s try this door! Crap! This gun takes too long to cooldown! Doggone it! How’d he get me?” So all I did when I went live was do what I do – play the game, talk back to it, and explain why I was doing what I was doing. And a funny thing happened while I was streaming. Viewers started to show up. Not only did they show up, but they stayed, and they began interacting with me through Twitch’s chat function. I found myself enjoying it, a lot. It brought back memories of hanging out in the arcade with my friends, waiting for our turns on the machines, and arguing about which Pac Man ghost was fastest.
Slowly but surely, my follower count began to grow, and what evolved from my decision to take a little risk has turned into the GamerDude family. My followers became people I enjoyed, people I liked talking to, and people I was interested in getting to know. I also discovered that the age-range of my followers is huge – from some in their teens to some in their forties, with a mix of male and female. We play games together and we talk about games but, as importantly, we talk about life. We talk about fast food, and movies, and families. I’ve had people meet in my chat and become friendly on a personal level outside of Twitch. And I have a core of regulars who always come back; we stay in touch, we laugh, talk, and play together, and we have a good time doing it.
As I mentioned, I’ve played games for years. I’ve been in online parties in various games where the game play is hard and the conversation toxic. That was never a pleasant experience, and that’s what I wanted to avoid in my stream. I wanted my stream to be a friendly place, with casual gaming and friendly conversation. I wanted it to be like the old arcade I hung out in, which featured a bunch of friends just enjoying each other’s company. My Twitch family has shown me that it’s possible to have that kind of environment in today’s gaming world, and to me, that’s vitally important. Gaming is supposed to be fun, and I try to make sure that it is for everyone who visits me.
For me, streaming fits into my gaming life perfectly. I love gaming; I always have. My Twitch family brings the enjoyment of the social part of gaming that I used to have in the “olden days” back to the console in my living room, and for that, I’m grateful. The people I’ve met online, and that I’ve played with, and that I’ve gotten to know, have become people I truly care about and, for me, that’s what you’re supposed to get from gaming. And that’s what I’m doing on Twitch.
What do you think?
Duck me – that’s great, we need more experienced gamers? Or should he hang up his controllers? Let us know in the comments below. Written by David Kendall (Twitch: ix_gamerdude_xi) | If you enjoyed this get updates. If you didn’t then why the duck don’t you do better! – No really, write for us!
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