Playing games and entertaining an audience simultaneously is a skill set that’s new to the 21st century as Twitch streamers reach into the tens of thousands of views daily, and TheHunterWild aims to make the most of his connection with his viewers.
According to Hunter, he started playing games when “I was single digits years old. My parents got me an NES. I remember hating most of the games because they would kick my butt left, right, up, and down.”
Indeed, old-school gaming of that era created replayability through being wildly difficult. “The games were so brutal,” Hunter affirms, “but that’s carried over to the way I play games now, where I tend to play on the hardest difficulty.”
“If they’re not challenging enough, I create challenges for myself,” Hunter says of playing modern games. If it’s too easy, you make rules for yourself to me it harder.
That idea brings up one of the fantastic things about modern video games. “That’s one of the things I love about gaming in the 21st century; there’s so much diversity. Within each game, there are often modes that allow you to focus on the environment and the narrative or increase the challenge.”
“We can craft the game to suit our desires and have fun,” Hunter says, “That’s what gaming is all about, having fun.”
Dev To Stream
The Hunter Wild’s been on Twitch since 2014 and, at the time of this writing, is passing 63,000 followers on Twitch. But what was he doing before then? “The first career I had as an adult was as a game designer. I started a company when I was 19 to make games, and I left to pursue a degree in philosophy.”
“There was also the nature of games,” Hunter explains about his departure from development, “that to be successful at that time, they needed to be violent. I consumed games like that, but I didn’t want to craft a game like that.”
Becoming a Twitch streamer wasn’t a life goal at this point. “The game that allowed me to discover Twitch was Hearthstone. I started playing the game when it was in beta. I found someone on YouTube who said they also do Twitch streaming.”
“I came over to Twitch and found my biggest inspiration for streaming, Ducksauce,” he says. “I would watch him every morning and would start my day with a smile. That connection was like a calling; I could do this for other people. Live a career in service to this broader idea of co-creative experiences and community connections.”
Hunter wasted no time and “jumped right into it. It’s formulaic but really fun. You have to listen to your inner voice and do your own thing.”
The basics of streaming on Twitch aren’t very different, but those who are good at it, like Hunter, balance playing a game while being decent at it and communicating with a live audience that’s chatting away in Twitch’s chat window. “It is all-consuming for the mind.”
Take A Slice
“A lot of this is an alignment of values I hold in my life with my career,” Hunter says about his life as a pro Twitch streamer. “There’s a big struggle with the reality that in this career, your job is always personal. You don’t have this detachment from your identity and your vision for what you want to do as a content creator.”
Managing the personal with the public persona is a big focus for Hunter. “The community leadership part is a huge quality for me that ties into my underlying philosophy for how life should be best lived, which is in conjunction with others. It’s coming together. It’s co-creative experiences. And in the 21st century, an age defined by the infinite potential of connectivity, we also find ourselves in loneliness.”
“I want to connect the disconnected,” he says without reservation. “In streaming, the core content is video games, but the real stuff I want to focus on is that connection with the tribe; community building.”
Hunter explains it in delicious terms I think most everyone can understand. “I envision this as a pizza. The things I want out of the pizza are the toppings. The dough is great, but it’s mostly just an edible plate. It’s gotta be there, but the real meat of it is all the conversation, the vulnerability, the authenticity, and sharing stories.”
“I can do this too,” he realized early on. “I have this same kind of drive. I need to find the people that will resonate with me.”
Hunter’s community focus takes center stage internally as a matter of personal philosophy, but externally too. Being a streamer comes with perils that are easy to miss. “It is very challenging, and it’s a topic that comes up a lot in the industry. At StreamerSquare, it’s something that we focus on a lot, which is the ‘always on’ mentality of always having to present yourself to your audience.”
StreamerSquare started in 2014 and helps current and future content creators learn everything they need to know to make their streams the best they can be, including everything from lighting to self-care. “I think one of the big issues at hand is authenticity, not always trying to show your best self but your most genuine self for and with your community.”
“Sometimes that means having to take a day off to safeguard your mental health,” he explains, “a part of that communication is being forthright and saying ‘I’m taking a mental health day.’ Everyone needs them.”
The importance of that statement “I’m taking a mental health day” serves several purposes. “In part, it’s to tell them, when you have these days, you’re not alone.”
“All these big personalities that you see, the highlight reels of life, also come with the downsides of being human and having difficult days or even difficult years,” Hunter declares a certainty for all people. “Navigating that is important, and so is actively taking days off, so you don’t burn out. There’s a positive way to navigate that and a toxic way.”
Hunter’s gaming roots stretch back to the early days of Nintendo. “Formative games for me are SimCity and a bunch of the Sim titles. Legend of Dragoon, a Playstation 2 title. I would love to see a remaster of that game.”
“The game that I played the most that got me into game development,” he shares, “was Dark Age of Camelot, which was an MMO that had a three-realm system for PvP. You’d go out into these big, open areas and have epic battles. The developer used a Kickstarter to work on Camelot Unchained.”
Hunter’s a big fan of Kickstarter, which has helped bring great games to life. “It’s a great setup because it allows the ideas to connect with individuals instead of pitching an idea to one or two people at a studio.”
Hunter streams daily. So, what’s coming next? “We have several irons in the fire with StreamerSquare that I cannot talk about, but I wish I could because it’s so exciting. For TheHunterWild, we have a big year ahead of us with game launches. So, launch titles are one of the focuses of my channel. We do three days of back-to-back 12-hour marathons for the new games that come out. It’s a big year for new launches that it’s difficult to fit into the schedule.”
Fans of Hunter have a lot coming their way. “We are expanding and growing the Patreon massively. I’m adding my fine art back into my life. I put fine art to the side when I started streaming, but now I can incorporate that back in and bring my creativity to people who want it. I get to add my creations to lives directly. I’m working non-stop on art with a public feed on Facebook that’s cataloging the process from the failures to the triumphs.”
Are you watching TheHunterWild on Twitch?
Thanks to Hunter Wild and Impact24
for making this interview possible.
Read more interviews from Ruben R. Diaz!