KyoryuHunter – A Retro Horror Streamer With an Affinity Towards Japanese Culture

KyoryuHunter – A Retro Horror Streamer With an Affinity Towards Japanese Culture

KyoryuHunter enjoys streaming retro horror games, where he's carved out a niche within the Twitch community. He also spent four years living in Japan where he was an English teacher. He bonded with his students over games and amassed a large collection of Japanese games to help learn the language. Now Kyoryu is back in the United States and streams full-time. Let's learn more about his journey.

Tell us your history with video games

I grew up playing games like Burgertime and Advanced Dungeon and Dragons on an Intellivision II my parents bought well before I was born. I still have that system sitting on my shelf in my streaming office, though I have no clue if it’s still working. I eventually got my first Game Boy with a copy of Pokemon and later on a Nintendo 64 of my own. Trading and battling other kids in the neighborhood was one of the few times I got to experience any kind of multiplayer, otherwise I played mostly single player games by myself. Over time, I’ve amassed quite a collection of consoles and games that I sadly will never be able to finish, though that doesn’t stop me from trying to add more games I missed out on to the pile. I was a bit of a loner growing up so gaming was always an escape from reality for me. Eventually it became my way to connect with people in high school and university since it was a common ground to start conversations with people. My love for games grew once we got our first PC in the house complete with good old dial up AOL internet.

I started studying foreign languages in high school and later in college with Japanese being one of the more exciting ones to learn. I’d buy random JRPGs from several sites online and try to power through them with my limited understanding of the language. Spoiler alert, I’ve never completed a single one of them. After finishing college, I had the opportunity to work in Japan as an assistant English teacher on the JET Program so I made my way over to a small, rural town in the mountains for work. To help me break down the language barrier, I used to talk with my students about video games to help me connect with them since it was somewhat of a universal hobby. I’ll never forget their shocked faces when they learned how popular characters like Mario were outside of Japan or that one of my favorite games is Animal Crossing.

It was while I was over there that I picked my current gaming name. I wanted something that combined my love for dinosaurs and tokusatsu shows, so I landed on the name Kyoryu which means dinosaur in Japanese. Since Kyoryu was taken at the time, I pulled Hunter from my first stream game, Monster Hunter World, as I was certain that I would be playing it regularly for the indefinite future. It’s been over two years since I last played it on stream as I’ve completely shifted focus to single-player content, but the name remains. To be honest, it’s been kind of strange for me to stick to one name for so long now that it’s part of something much bigger than just a gamertag.

What’s your backstory and how did you get into streaming?

I first got the idea of streaming from a couple friends of mine who were very active on Twitch and YouTube and watching them regularly throughout the week. After seeing a few of their streams, I took the plunge and ordered a capture card and a camera to start my own channel. After I got my hardware setup, I slowly started figuring out OBS after lots of trial and error and even more frustration. I always forget how intimidating and stressful starting out was as much of it has become second nature. Despite knowing as much as I do now, I will never understand how to properly light my half-awake face at seven in the morning. I started out with streams a couple days a week at night lasting for a couple hours at a time, alternating between Monster Hunter World and Final Fantasy XII. After realizing that it would take me ages to finish either game on stream, I started picking some shorter games that would last a couple days and finally hit a groove that worked for me. I blame streaming entirely on the unnecessary amount of games I bought over there with the excuse that many of them were only 100 yen and would definitely be fun to play on stream.

I honestly had expected streaming to be a short-lived hobby, but after making a few friends and growing a small community, I started taking it a bit more seriously. After a few years on the JET Program and many of my friends having left to go back to their home countries, streaming quickly became a big part of my nightly routine. I owe a lot of my early successes to my background as an EFL teacher since it prepared me to keep my composure and maintain a stage presence under stress. I was usually very introverted and withdrawn before taking that job, but getting outside of my comfort zone and being the center of attention in the classroom made getting in front of a camera on a regular basis much easier. After four years in Japan, with the last year and a half being a streamer, I moved back to the US and was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could concentrate on streaming full time. One of the biggest struggles during this was keeping my original schedule in a new time zone. In Japan, I started streaming around 8pm which in my current time zone is closer to 5am. I eventually set a 7am start time, which was initially a bit of a set back with growth and maintaining my original audience. After some ups and downs of readjusting to life back home and the mental health struggles that accompanied it, I started pouring more and more effort into my live content while picking back up podcasting and launching a series on YouTube.

Tell us about your channel and community

My channel primarily focuses on terrible, niche retro horror games like Clock Tower and Illbleed with the occasional, self-indulgent dose of more typical choices like Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong. I do consider myself a variety streamer, but I do restrict the games I play to certain genres or time periods. I like to group games together into themes for each week while keeping with my niche of retro horror. For example, I did a Haunted House week in October that included Luigi’s Mansion, Illbleed, and Ju-On: The Grudge. All vastly different types of games but all fall under the retro horror umbrella. This helps me keep things fresh without being locked into one specific game nor does it make my content too inconsistent. I almost never play any type of multiplayer game on stream anymore, but I have played Resident Evil Outbreak a few times with friends a couple years ago. Offline I almost never play anything remotely horror, not because I don’t like them, but because I just don’t have the time anymore. I like to pick one or two long JRPGs to play through over the year to give me something to work on that doesn’t feel like, well, work.

My community likewise enjoys seeing some of the weird, rough gems I find while sharing their own janky favorites with me. I try to keep the atmosphere open and accepting for anyone to jump in and feel welcome and I have my moderators to thank for making that possible. Sometimes I wonder if people come by to watch me or to just to chat with the mods. Although the community is very diverse in many respects, the lively banter and mood of the group is very inviting for newcomers to hop right in and join the fun. I’m very grateful for the group I have as many of the games I play on stream would never have had the chance to get my attention otherwise. That’s honestly my favorite part of streaming; getting to know more about the members of my community and their favorite and least favorite games. It makes for fun, sometimes weird conversations that lead to some interesting hot takes that carry over into Discord.

Tell us about your brand and how you’ve been able to obtain success

To be honest, the only thing I intentionally worked on to be part of my branding was my dinosaur mascot as my content has evolved quite a bit from Day 1 to now. For me, it was more important to have my stream focus more on myself as a person rather than the specific game that I play. As far as my on-stream presence, I’m more or less the same person on and off camera, although I’m a bit more animated when the camera is on. I wanted to make sure I give off the same energy as the content I personally enjoy the most. I’m not the biggest fan of crafted personas or gimmicks as I gravitate to other creators whose channels give off the vibe of hanging out with friends. I’ve always felt that being yourself is more inviting and engaging which has only become more true as I’ve gotten older.

Starting out, I had absolutely no idea how I was supposed to get noticed on the platform. It’s no secret that Twitch and YouTube do not have the best systems in place for newcomers or smaller creators to get noticed and it only gets harder over time. One of my biggest struggles, which is still somewhat present now, is the time that I stream. Until I moved back, I was streaming late at night in Japan when most English speakers are asleep or at work and it made growth very, very slow. I struggled with trying to pick specific games that I thought would pull in more viewers, but it quickly became clear that you can’t expect people to come watch you if you are not taking the time to support others. Much of my growth came from networking by visiting other streams, being active in other streamers’ communities in Discord, and supporting my friends. I also made sure to pick moderators who were friendly and welcoming to everyone that stopped by, which made a world of difference in seeing people come back each day. It took me about a month and a half to reach Affiliate and then a bit over two and a half to hit Partner this past December. I’ve been a full-time content creator for a bit over a year now, which greatly helped me focus on my content at the expense of less free time, but I’m happy I can continue down a career path I’m passionate about.

How do you balance streaming and life?

Streaming, planning, editing, and recording content take up the majority of my time every single day. I wake up around six or six thirty every weekday morning, make coffee, and hit Go Live at seven o’clock. All of my set up for streams takes place the night before so I have very minimal tech work to do each morning. I usually stream for around six to seven hours before I end for lunch and raid another streamer. After stream, I try to hang out in a few channels while I decompress before starting on another project. I do my best to make a couple YouTube videos each week in addition to recording my podcast every other week, so I keep busy while still struggling to make the best use of my time, but I’ve always been a bit of a procrastinator. I make sure to take off streaming on weekends, but I tend to be stuck at my computer doing one thing or another so I don’t give myself enough breaks. I’m thankful to have several close friends as moderators who often remind me, occasionally very directly, that I need to take some time away from my screen. If that’s one bit of advice I can give anyone aspiring to be or currently are a content creator, give yourself a break now and then. I need to take that advice myself more often than not.

I’m honestly very glad that I was able to take this line of work given the current state of the world. Being in the middle of a pandemic, I don’t feel as anxious about staying indoors or not seeing friends and family as often as it’s not really feasible to do that right now. Luckily, my significant other and my family have been very supportive of this career path even though they don’t really understand it all that well. My father thinks Twitch is a person, my mother texts me to ask me if I’m still Twerking in the afternoons, and my girlfriend wants to know what game I played with my friends today. Recently my friends from back home have been getting into streaming themselves so the void of not being able to see each other has been filled in a way by watching each other stream. I’m not sure how long I can maintain this lifestyle as it’s a relatively volatile career in the grand scheme of things, but I’m definitely going to enjoy the ride as long as I can.

Tell us what tools you use for your stream

I use OBS integrated with StreamElements as my main software with alerts and channel bots handled by both StreamLabs and StreamElements. I commissioned all of my art assets, logos, and emotes from my friend and channel artist, borbdraws, while my overlays were all designed by myself. Although I don’t typically stream games from my PC directly, I like to keep a light load on the system so I can do so now and then. I don’t use many extensions, though I did implement CrowdControl during one of my recent streams and it was incredibly fun for me, but even more so for the people in chat who were making my life heck in game. I do like to use the native Channel Point system on Twitch to let my viewers have other means of engagement outside of simply chatting and watching. For example, I have a plethora of gaming and character hats that people can redeem for me to wear for a skosh. It occasionally becomes a competition of who can get me to wear a certain hat before someone else. Another invaluable set of extensions a streamer can use are BTTV and FrankerFaceZ to add custom and animated emotes for everyone to use. You’re a bit more free to add weird or temporary emotes that are entirely specific to your channel without using up a sub-based emote slot considering how limited Affiliates are in that area.  

As far as analytics are concerned, I wish I could say I don’t look at numbers or anything, but that’s not possible when you are a full-time creator. I have, however, limited what I can see while I’m live on Twitch. I’ve turned off things such as view count and follower count as they can easily alter your mood and presence on stream. Seeing a fluctuating or even lower view count will easily bring your mood down and change your behavior whether you think so or not. Follower count for me has always been a weird thing to focus on as it’s not a real indicator of failure or success. I try not to base my content on viewer averages, but when you come to a point where you are pushing for Partner, you tend to make decisions based on those numbers. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are not being truthful.

What are your top 3 streaming tools? 

The three streaming tools I cannot stream without are my Retrotink 2X-Pro, my secondary Logitech camera, and my collection of retro consoles (I know that last one is cheating, but give me this one). Before getting my Retrotink, I was relying on cheap, low quality upscalers for my games that were so inconsistent that some games were just unplayable. I almost always use original hardware for the games I play, so the combination of the two opened up my streaming arsenal to nearly my entire collection. My secondary camera doesn’t get as much use now, but it’s been an invaluable asset in sharing a live feed of the geese that live outside of my apartment near the lake. It’s a bit too cold for them now, but now and then we get to take a break from the game we’re playing to watch the geese do goose things outside for a skosh.

What advice would you give to small channels trying to reach Partner?

If you start streaming with the intent of getting partnered, you will probably have a hard road ahead of you. Instead, focus on building connections with others, finding a community to support, and working on personal growth. Pick things you are passionate about, whether it’s gaming, art, music, or whatever category you are in. Don’t focus too much on numbers, which I will admit is difficult, but it will definitely improve your performance on air if you aren’t seeing a live view count tick up and down. It’s also important to diversify your content into different platforms. Edit some clips and original content into videos for YouTube, branch out into TikTok, be active on social networking, and above all, raise up those around you instead of putting others down. Even when you’re not live, having content on other platforms keeps you relevant and introduces your brand to more people.  

If you could change one thing about Twitch, what would it be?

One thing I wish Twitch would do is to make it easier for people to find and make communities. It’s very difficult to find similar-minded people on Twitch with their limited tagging system that isn’t as inclusive or as visible as it could be. It took quite a while to get an LGBT+ tag, which is also very broadly implemented, and other communities are still waiting for their representation on the platform. It’s important to use your platform to raise up the voices of others who are not being heard. I hope Twitch can be more accessible to more groups in the future as that is still a major oversight on their part.

KyoryuHunter Stream Setup

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