Last Christmas I received a gift that caught me by surprise: a capture card for video game streaming. The surprise came not only from the fact that I hadn’t requested one from anybody but also because the capture card came from my dad, a grizzled carpenter who lives on a mountain who I honestly would have assumed had never heard of a capture card before. Turns out his neighbor was bragging to him and his wife (my stepmother) about how cheap he’d found them during small talk one day and they were like “you know who likes video games? Ian and Destiny!” so they just went and picked one up on a whim. It was very thoughtful, very unexpected, and it hastened the perhaps inevitable charge towards a day when Adventure Rules would have its very own livestream.
My decision to engage in streaming has been one which came after a significant amount of waffling back and forth. Streaming makes sense as a thing I would want to do because it calls out to the performer in me. All throughout my childhood and then through college I was acting in local plays – my college major was theater. Performing for other people was something I was expecting to do for a long time. What ultimately led me off that path was the schedule; I wanted a family, and while a theater career and a family are not necessarily mutually exclusive, I realized that what fit my lifestyle best was a more traditional career with 9-5 type hours. Still, the desire to use the skills I had spent my life developing hovered underneath the surface waiting for an opportunity to manifest, and streaming seems like as good of an opportunity as any.
That said, there were things that made the decision complicated. A big one was the idea that if I started streaming, I would also be starting the grind towards streaming-as-career. I wasn’t sure entirely if I had the technical skills to make that happen or, before that, even the desire to stream professionally. Tied in with technical skills was technical equipment. The only computer I own is a small, now five-year-old tablet with a keyboard attachment that can isn’t exactly the optimal machine for demanding activities. We had no webcam, no microphone, and for the past few years never felt motivated to put any of our expendable income towards those things for what would ultimately just be a goofy hobby.
So what changed? On the practical end of things, there came the realization that we didn’t really need specialized equipment in the way we thought we would. Destiny’s gaming headsets work pretty decent as microphones for starting streamers. My tablet may not be able to run video games natively, but maintaining a livestream is a different set of skills and as long as I keep the quality somewhat low it is capable of doing so. A webcam, while probably an overall important tool for streamers who are looking to make it to partner, is not a necessary tool starting out. And with our Christmas capture card, the last possible expense that was holding us back was gone.
I’ve also over the last year or so had the benefit of a growing friendship with fellow blogger and Twitch streamer Jett AKA @inthirdperson, who has in his practical wisdom shared a lot of details that helped to get me off the ground both in the technical sense but also in the motivational sense too. It was him who invited me to make an appearance on his own stream and thus realized that the gaming headset worked fine as a mic. Jett also walked me through finding manageable settings on my tablet and even suffered through the occasional test video. Most importantly, though, he helped me to realize that just because I started this whole streaming malarky didn’t mean I was committing to anything; if my motivation was just to have fun and I acknowledged that streaming with this motivation wouldn’t immediately give me 10000 followers, I’d be good to go.
With the technical barrier gone and the motivational barrier gone, I just needed the right game. The Nintendo Switch seemed like my obvious choice for console but I wasn’t sure what game would be best. I was drawn first to the idea of playing a strategy game since Adventure Rules the blog is a place which offers guides for a few games in that style. I was thinking in particular about Into the Breach for awhile, but when I sat down and did some test recordings I wasn’t quite feeling the game. Did I want to stream Fire Emblem Three Houses? Animal Crossing? Nothing really seemed to capture what I was feeling. Then a couple of weekends ago I dusted off my GameCube on a whim and booted up my favorite video game – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. As I marched through the familiar beginning beats of the game and remembered all the stories from other times playing it in the past, as I did funny voices for my son who wanted me to explain to him what was happening, it hit me. What else would be the first game streamed on Adventure Rules? It was always this. It had to be this.
With a game decided and the technology present, the time has come for Adventure Rules to stream. At the time this article is posted, tomorrow is the day when I will make my streaming debut. Thursday, May 14th, 2020, 8 PM eastern time. To say it feels weird being only one day away is a bit of an understatement, and I’m trying not to build it up to be some big thing. I think I can safely assume I will have one or two viewers because it seems like a few of my fellow bloggers are planning to make appearances, which I cannot express enough is really awesome and much appreciated. Ya’ll have no context for why in the world you would want to watch me, so my hope is to reward your enthusiasm with a stream that’s actually fun! But as I was saying, I think in my head this is building up as some huge unveiling of a big project when really it’s just me, playing video games in an place where my gameplay is visible to other people, talking about what I am doing and chatting with some buddies.
My plan – assuming there’s not some horrific technological disaster during stream number one – is to keep up the Thursday schedule for a month or so to get an idea of two things. One is whether or not this whole streaming business is actually something I have fun doing. Sure it’s fun to hop on someone else’s stream, playing games and cracking jokes while they handle all the technical stuff. But would I enjoy the process of managing my own channel, keeping it active week after week while playing video games for an audience for hours at a time? I won’t know unless I try, so this is an opportunity to see how much I truly enjoy the early days of Twitch streaming. If it turns out I am having fun with it, the second thing I want to learn from this experience is whether the time slot I’ve chosen is a decent one that I can keep up for the foreseeable future.
One element I decided on pretty last-minute – like pretty much as I was typing the tweet announcing the stream – was to do a challenge run of Thousand-Year Door where I wouldn’t be using any of the game’s badges. I felt like a challenge run of the game would be more interesting from a viewer perspective than a more straightforward let’s play, and it would be a great opportunity to show off the many viable strategies that exist for dealing with different combat scenarios in the game. I like the idea of being able to walk folks through these situations and describe the thought process behind my decisions or the mechanical considerations that go into each fight. This is partly to play into my manner of speaking – from friends to coworkers to supervisors, I’ve had multiple people in my life compliment the way in which I am able to clearly explain concepts in a way that makes them easy to understand for other people. I come across as “teachy,” so I figured a challenge run would be a good way to lean into that “teachiness” as I talked to viewers about good strategies for utilizing the game’s items and partners.
I’m excited for tomorrow’s stream, and I figure that I am about as ready as I am going to get. I’m definitely nervous – mostly that some unexpected computer problem will manifest – but outside of that I think that I’ve set myself up for a stream that can go pretty smoothly. I’m playing the video game that I am more familiar with than any other, a game that I have already played through almost all the way again during my free time over the past couple of weeks. I may not trust my tablet, but I trust me to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and to showcase what I uniquely bring to the table as a streamer. If you’re interested in The Thousand-Year Door and want to swing by, you can follow the below link to the Adventure Rules Twitch channel. Thursday, May 14th, 2020, 8 PM eastern. I hope to see you there!