Tell us your history with video games
I’ve always been interested in video games. As a kid, my parents were pretty strict in terms of letting me use technology for fun so I never got to experience console gaming at all. I didn’t even get to look at an Nintendo DS without them scolding me. It was actually my sister that helped break down that barricade. She introduced me to this game called ‘Maplestory’ when I was super young, maybe about 9 or 10? We would play together at home in two separate rooms. I would be using the desktop in my parent’s room while she would be playing on her laptop in her room and we would communicate with each other by yelling. It would annoy my parents to no end! It was how we bonded. Without my sister, my parents probably wouldn’t even let me touch a video game. She was always the persuasive one in the family. It was really special because my sister and I never had much in common. She’s 11 years older than me so that already makes it hard to find similarities sometimes, but Maplestory really connected us together. That was the only game my sister ever played, but we still talk about it from time to time because it brings back amazing memories. Without Maplestory, we probably wouldn’t be as close as we are just because of how distinctly different our personalities are, which is what makes that game so special to me. I still go back and play sometimes to relive the nostalgia. It really is something truly close to my heart.
I got introduced to League of Legends when I was about 12, and the rest was history from there. I spent hours upon hours playing after school on my old Toshiba laptop. I even tried streaming when I turned 13 back then, but only got about 5 FPS when I was live. I just loved the competitive aspect of gaming and the rush I got when I made a cool play or got a victory. It was a thrill that I hadn’t really experienced before, and I loved the feeling. Right before I entered high school, I convinced my parents that I needed a computer for school and with a $800 budget, built myself a gaming PC. I still have some of the parts from the original PC in my build now. Gaming has become such a crucial part of my life ever since then. It was an escape from reality and a true passion that ended up being so vital in my future career plans.
What’s your backstory and how did you get into streaming?
I started making YouTube videos when I was 13 years old because I was extremely in love with League of Legends. I had heard parody songs from YouTubers such as Instalok and Lunity back in the day and was inspired to make some. Parody songs, in an essence, are cover songs of popular mainstream music but the lyrics are changed to match the themes of various video games. I made League of Legends parody songs for years, gaining a small following on Youtube. As the years went by, I started losing interest in League but didn’t know where my channel would go without it. I started streaming on Twitch then, trying to expand my category of games to include ones that I now love. Like I said, my first stream was on a Toshiba laptop with 5 FPS playing League, but we have come a long way since then I think!
I really didn’t think too much about my stream setup at the time. I was really young and clueless about the entire streaming space. All I remember is making everything on my channel unbearably pink. There was so much pink back then. I really plastered it everywhere. I was very on and off with Twitch for the first few years. I mean, I was on the platform starting when I was 13. I had a lot of growing up to do. As I progressed through high school and my first years at university, I never placed a particular focus or emphasis on streaming. I always saw it as nothing more than a hobby. I would stream consistently for a month or so then disappear for 6, leaving my viewers dazed and confused. Many people came and went because I was never consistent in a schedule, game, or anything at all. I went from League to Overwatch to Fortnite to BDO to story games. I never truly found a niche until much later.
I discovered GTA RP in 2019. I had always been an avid lover of the roleplay space, probably because I am a fiction writer on the side and love to expand on stories and characters. I was fascinated by the idea of roleplaying inside a video game, especially in a modern environment like GTA is. I decided to give it a try and became instantly addicted. I played on a few public servers, but I never felt satisfied. I never actually stayed on a server for too long because I was always looking for something more. That’s when I found out about NoPixel. I became obsessed with watching streams on Twitch, and was invested in the storylines going on at the time. I waited a few months before applying because I thought I was inexperienced and not good enough at roleplay to join.
In July of 2020, I decided to gather up my courage and apply. It was the middle of COVID and as someone who was extremely extroverted and much of a busy body, I was having a lot of difficulties staying inside. Due to how much I was playing on the server, I decided it would be a good time to start streaming my adventures in roleplay. The growth and support that I received from the community from day 1 was insane. After those 5 years on twitch, I had been sitting at 2000 followers. Now, in July of 2021 almost 1 year later, I am sitting at 27,000 followers. To say that it’s been a crazy journey would be an understatement. After 6 years on the platform, I reached Partner status, and it was all thanks to NoPixel.
Tell us about your channel and community
My community, the Cookie Jar, is the sweetest in the entire world. It genuinely feels like such a close knit family. Everyone knows each other by their names (or whatever alias they’re comfortable with sharing) and knows personal anecdotes and facts about each other. New viewers are bombarded with our signature ‘syraHey’ and tons of love. It’s a small but loving community. I’ve always been adamant on telling my viewers that they’re my friends because the amount of joy they bring me is immeasurable. It’s definitely a place where you feel safe and welcomed for sure, and everyone is extremely friendly and open with each other. I try to bond with them as much as possible through playing games with them (we have a Minecraft SMP for the community), and chatting in our community Discord daily to give updates and just have fun talks with everyone.
I typically stream GTA Roleplay on NoPixel, but I’ve been expanding into variety lately. I’ve been having a blast on the OTV Rust server lately, and my viewers have been enjoying the fresh perspective of a new game. Aside from GTA and Rust, I also love to stream Valorant, Knockout City, and even Just Chatting. I love just chatting with the community and hearing what they have to say or having debates and open discussions.
Even if I’m not streaming, I’m still gaming most of the time. I played GTA RP for over a year before I even pressed the ‘live’ button, and I don’t doubt I would still be obsessed with the game at this point in time even if I didn’t stream. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many hours in the day recently from streaming, work, school, and trying to make content on other platforms, so I don’t get to play as many games as I want to. I would love to play more FPS games such as Apex Legends or Warzone, but I need to find some more time. Hopefully soon I’ll get to try them out more (even though I have horrible aim.)
Tell us about your brand and how you’ve been able to obtain success
I’ve never really thought of brand or brand image, if I’m going to be honest. I’ve always tried to be as authentic and transparent as I can be. I think that my roleplay character, however, has kind of curated a brand image for me on its own.
I primarily roleplay a character called Elena Vega on NoPixel. She is an outgoing, crass, loud, and completely all over the place character that is known for spur of the moment witty comebacks and talking too much smack for her own good. I think because of how often I play this character, a lot of viewers have started to kind of mesh us together. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a part of me in Elena, but I am not that ballsy in real life. That being said, a lot of people tell me that my character and I have similar energies. I am extremely loud and outgoing, and I sometimes forget to use my built in filter and blurt out things the moment I think of them. I think that may be the brand that I’ve got going on. Some call it being a ‘crackhead’ even.
I think the biggest reason for the growth I’ve had this past year was definitely consistency. I made sure everyone knew where I would be and when I would be there. I streamed pretty much every single day at more or less the same time, so everyone was aware of where to find me. I wanted to make it known that I was your friendly, neighbourhood Syra that you could come to at any time to chat and hang out with. I also started going out of my comfort zone and trying to collab with other content creators and streaming together with them, which made the entire stream a lot more enjoyable for viewers due to the different personalities and playstyles that they got to see.
I think the biggest challenge that I’ve had during streaming, that I still struggle with immensely, is self doubt. I always have a case of imposter syndrome and I feel like I don’t deserve to be where I’m at. It’s always something I’ve struggled with even outside of streaming, so it’s been hard to not let that perspective cloud my judgement and my energy and have it not affect me while I’m streaming. I’m taking baby steps everyday to try and not feel this way by reminding myself of how hard I work and listening to my community.
When I started streaming, the Twitch Affiliate program didn’t exist so I couldn’t tell you when I got it. I think I was eligible from the get go. As for Partner, it took about 6 years. I know that it’s a daunting number, but everyone’s journey is different, and I never took it seriously until a year ago. So if we’re looking at from when I actually started trying, then it probably took about a year. Currently, I’m a full time student and I have a part time internship so I’m unfortunately unable to do streaming full time. Hopefully by the time I graduate in 2023, I’m able to pursue streaming full time because this is truly my passion. I don’t think any other career path would be able to fulfil me and make me happy like streaming. So, fingers crossed!
What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received from a viewer?
Do what makes you happy and stop focusing on what makes the viewers happy, because if you’re enjoying yourself, the chat will enjoy their time too.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you because of your streaming?
The support that I’ve gotten from my community and Twitch overall for my music is insane. I showcase most of my progress with music and premiere my songs on Twitch all the time, so music is a big part of my Twitch journey. My friend actually sent me a video of a local clothing store in our area playing my song ‘summer blues’ one time, which was absolutely mindblowing. Thought I’d share!
How do you balance streaming and your day-to-day life?
I am so bad at balancing everything, if I’m going to be honest. I’ve gotten much better at it since I started streaming consistently a year ago, but it’s still hard especially since things are slowly returning to normal now after COVID. I try and make a to do list everyday and plan out a Google Calender of when I’m going to stream, post videos, as well as allocate time for my classes, school work, and work projects
I am currently in my second (going into third) year of university, so the work load is absolutely insane. I also have a part time internship as well, so my mornings are completely packed. Before I stream, I make sure that I have everything that I need to do for the day for school and work completed. I make sure all assignments or assessments that are due that day are finished and that my work projects are ready for the team meeting the next day. I stream mostly at night time just because I always have to allocate the first half of my day for other work (unfortunately.) Recently, my workload has increased so I’m unable to stream as long or as much as I want to, but I try and stream at least 4-5 days a week and average around 5-6 hours per stream. I usually start at about 7PM EST so I have sufficient time during the day to get all my errands and work done beforehand so I can focus fully on streaming.
I usually only take days off from streaming when I have major assignments due for university or if I have to finish a project for work, so I really don’t have days off. And in the days that I take off from streaming, I am trying to edit Youtube or TikTok videos to keep my other platforms active. It’s a lot to do, but I like keeping busy. I don’t get much social interaction these days outside of the Internet, but it’s also because I’m being COVID conscious. I have a baby niece and elderly in my family that I have to care for, so that’s also a big reason why I don’t have much social interaction nowadays (plus all the work and streaming of course.)
My family was never really supportive of streaming and gaming when I was younger. It wasn’t until I brought home my first Twitch paycheck that my parents actually let me keep gaming. They were super close to actually confiscating my computer and selling it because they were scared I would be too distracted in school, but I was able to maintain my grades so they let it slide. Now, they are much more open to it. They’ve seen how passionate about it I am and have also been able to see how streaming has helped me pay off debt and maintain my current living so they really have no complaints. They just tell me to also pursue side hustles in case gaming doesn’t last forever, which I totally agree on. I hope to be able to full time stream one day but also dip my toes in the business side of things (e.g joining an organization, talent management, etc).
Tell us what tools you use for your stream
- OBS Studio. So much customization, which I really enjoy.
- StreamLabs. I love using the Streamlabs labels, alerts, and jars. They’re super useful and customizable.
- Streamelements is my go to bot because I have an easy to use interface so I can readily change anything (and my mods can too.)
- My viewers actually made most of the graphics that I have on my stream. One of my moderators actually made my overlays. All other graphics I’ve made by myself from Photoshop or Canva.
What are your favorite streaming resources?
I actually take a lot of advice from @swiggis.tv on Tiktok. He’s taught me a lot about the proper resolution for my stream and a lot of technical stuff for OBS and Twitch. I’m really bad with technology so I relied on his help a lot when trying to better optimize my stream and its performance!
Which 3 streamers inspire you the most?
- Fuslie - She’s been such a big inspiration for me for so long and I’ve recently had the absolute pleasure to be able to befriend her. We met on GTA RP and her positive energy is absolutely contagious. She’s always such a friendly and outgoing person and radiates such good vibes on her channel and makes everyone feel so welcomed even with her large viewer base. She’s definitely someone I look up to. I aspire to be able to be as kindhearted and sweet as she is, as well as achieve that success that she has.
- Valkyrae - She has been such an inspiration for so many female streamers in the space with all her amazing achievements. She is such a hardworking individual and has opened so many doors for women in this industry. With her various other side hustles and projects and her involvement in the business side of streaming, she is definitely someone that I look up to just in terms of work ethic and achievements. Not to mention, she is an absolute sweetheart. I also had the pleasure of meeting with her and hanging out with her in GTA RP, and she was so incredibly nice and hilarious.
- Kirshar - He is my real life best friend of 8 years and the reason I started content creation in the first place. He’s been streaming on Twitch even longer than I have and makes incredibly entertaining content. We met in elementary school when I was in the 7th grade and he was in the 8th grade. He approached me about creating a Youtube content creation crew that revolved around gaming. Without him, I wouldn’t even be on Twitch or doing this interview. He’s such a funny and compassionate person and deserves the entire world for sure. He’s pushed me towards so many of my different goals, and I wouldn’t be anywhere I am today without him.
What are your top 3 streaming tools?
- StreamElements. I have so many random commands that I have to keep track of and making commands and using them is so so easy on StreamElements.
- A second monitor. It is so important as a streamer. I used to read chat off of my phone but now with a second monitor, everything is so much easier.
- A fan! The ventilation in my room is horrible and the computer makes it BOILING hot in there. Without one, I would probably pass out while live.
What advice would you give to small channels trying to reach Partner?
Do it for fun. If you focus too much on the numbers, you’ll lose the love you have for gaming, which is what made you start in the first place.
If you could change one thing about Twitch, what would it be?
Visibility for newer creators. Currently, the platform caters a lot towards bigger streamers and it can be hard for newer or smaller creators to get their time to shine. Maybe implementing a randomized spotlight for different game categories or changing up the algorithm can help smaller creators get noticed and find potential viewers!
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely want to continue growing on all platforms. I hope to be able to stream full time by the time I graduate university in 2023 because I am so incredibly in love with being a streamer. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else as a career.
I have been making a lot of music as well, so I hope in the coming years that I can continue sharing my sound with them as well. I just want to continue tapping into my creative side and letting other people hear me and making others smile. That’s all I have ever wanted, after all!