I don’t regret quitting live streaming.
Or making videos. Or writing about games. Or any of the other game related things I did for years.
I think it’s been around a year and a half since my last live stream, and more than two since I began to ease off taking content creation seriously. It’s difficult to articulate why I stopped, but the long and short of it is that I couldn’t see a future I wanted.
When I started making videos, podcasting, and eventually live streaming my goal was pretty clear: to share the joy games bring me with other people.
In the beginning every day felt like the first time I went to PAX. It felt like coming home. My life finally revolved around the things I’m most passionate about, video games and making people happy.
But in order to do these things successfully, you need to do some other things you may or may not enjoy. You know, like most jobs.
Some I didn’t mind at all, like learning how to use video editing software and figuring out social media. And some were increasingly tedious, like constantly monitoring comment sections and knowing the next tweet that shows up in my mentions could be a request for me to kill myself.
Ultimately my days became about The Job and not about Video Games. And when I say “my days” I mean all of my days. There are rarely weekends when it comes to making content online. I gave what I did my all – when I wasn’t actively creating something I was figuring out the next thing I would make, reading about upcoming games, or just trying to think of an entertaining tweet.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t exactly a bad life, but it wasn’t making me happy.
So I looked around at the most successful folks in areas I’d dabbled in – live streaming, podcasting, video creation, and games journalism. Plus the jobs in game dev I’ve been interested in (my partner was working on an MMO at the time). And none of them were lives I wanted.
Again, none of them were bad lives. They weren’t horrible or torturous, but I couldn’t see myself being happy in them, even if (and that’s a big if – nothing in online content creation is ever guaranteed) I ended up being extremely successful.
There’s a lot of go-go-going that comes along with successful online content creation. Long hours, jumping when there’s a new beta, putting out a video/stream/story while it’s relevant – ideally before too many other folks put out something similar so you get/retain a decent number of eyeballs. A lot of creators thrive in this rapid environment, but it turned out that I didn’t.
And then there’s the public figure aspect, something it’s difficult to avoid when you attach your face and name to your work. I was never entirely comfortable with this, but I embraced it because I wanted to be for other people the type of person I needed when I was looking for a smile online. Ultimately this wore on me too. The type of harassment that’s unfortunately still inevitable for many folks who put themselves out there was overwhelmingly tiresome.
I had a lot of people tell me not to “let them win” if I ever talked about this harassment, as though it’s some last man standing king of the hill contest, and not just a daily reality that only you can decide if it’s worth putting up with.
So after giving online content creation a solid go, putting my all into it for years, I asked myself some tough questions and made the sobering decision to walk away from everything I had tried to build. I abandoned all of the dreams I’ve had since I was a little girl watching TechTV, and all of the goals I’ve had since my first PAX.
And I haven’t regretted it for a second. I’m happier now. There’s a void in my soul that creative outlet used to fill, but I play video games every day now purely for myself, and my stress levels have reduced dramatically.
Eventually I’ll find something to fill that void, but right now it’s enough just to feel calm when I wake up and play video games for the sake of enjoyment.