Xinxinwong – From Hitting a Wall Playing the Same Game to Finding Success with a Niche Community

Xinxinwong – From Hitting a Wall Playing the Same Game to Finding Success with a Niche Community

Tell us your history with video games 

I've been playing games since I was around 5, I pretty much grew up watching my dad play video games. The earliest memory that I remember is watching my dad try to do the bike scene in the original FF7. My sister and I would watch my dad play and as we got older, my dad started getting mad at us because we would backseat him really hard. So from there, we started playing our own games. The first game that I ever finished was Klonoa and the second was Tomba.

We only had 1 gameboy for a while, but it got to the point where my parents had to buy 2 GameBoys because all 3 of us would fight to play. But I think the reason my dad agreed to get another GameBoy was so he could complete his Pokedex. My dad and I would split the Pokemon games, he'd get red and I'd get blue and we did this all the way up to White/Black. We'd do this thing where one of us would restart and play until we could trade and eventually we'd both have all the starters.

My dad is also the one who helped me create my IGN. When he was helping me set up an email, he picked the name xinxinwong for me. It’s a play on my Chinese name, Wong Yi Xin. My Chinese nickname is Xin Xin so to match the first + last name combo, he went with xinxinwong. I’ve used it for everything since then.

I started on console, played handheld as well as I got older, and eventually transitioned into PC in college. My favorite types of games back then were JRPGs, but now it's probably MMOs and Roguelites. I still love all puzzle games and psychological horrors though. I played all the Kirby and Zelda games and Chrono Cross is probably my favorite game of all time.

While I used to play Neopets back in the day, I wouldn’t have called myself a PC gamer. The first PC game that I really got into was League of Legends. I slowly transitioned into Dota because that’s why my boyfriend played. When I didn’t play MOBAs, I would play indie scary games and Roguelites. I was really into Binding of Isaac and ended up having around 2000 hours in the first game. I’ve always enjoyed gaming because there’s something very satisfying about finally killing a boss and bittersweet about completing a game. I also want to say I’ve learned a lot from playing games but I mostly play games to enjoy and challenge myself.

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

I started streaming in college because my boyfriend, Conor, encouraged me to. He gave me his old gaming PC that he wasn't using and it was the first time that I had a PC that was good enough to stream. I was using a tiny Alienware laptop to play League but there was no way I could stream on it. Conor encouraged me to try streaming since I was always gaming and he thought it'd be a fun thing for me to be able to go back and watch my gameplay since I would always ask him how I could improve.

My friend Bo and Conor helped me set up my stream (I had no idea what I was doing) so they basically set everything up for me. All I had to do was press Start on OBS. It was definitely really scary at first but my online friends showed up in chat and encouraged me to continue. The first game I ever streamed was Bioshock. I started in the Binding of Isaac community, moved to Dota, transitioned into variety games, settled on World of Warcraft, and eventually ventured into the keyboard community.

Initially, I had no camera and I would constantly miss things in chat until 10 minutes later. Someone would say something to me and by the time I saw, they were already gone. I always felt bad. It took a bit for me to get used to checking chat and filling the air with me talking. I think it took me around 6 months to get comfortable but even to this day, I still get a bit nervous and I get tired of talking after 5 hours.

I've been streaming on and off for about 6 years now, but consistently for 2. It was too hard for me to maintain a consistent schedule while I was in school and I didn't take it seriously until I moved out of state and started working at home. I kept coming back to streaming because I felt like it was the one of the few things in my life that I could always go back to and fast forward a few years, I’m now a twitch partner!

Tell us about your channel and community

My channel is mostly World of Warcraft and custom keyboard builds. I do play variety games from time to time, but I'm usually either streaming WoW or keyboard builds. I focus more on chat interaction and trying to help out those who might have questions, either about their own gameplay or about keyboards. I would say there's a heavier focus on keyboards now, but I still love gaming. Even if I didn't stream, I'd still be playing WoW and variety games.

I'd say my community is pretty friendly and they do a good job answering any questions that I might miss. I love my community because they keep me on my toes. We always poke fun at each other but never overboard and I'd say they all do a good job respecting boundaries. My community has taught me a lot about what I should put up with and what I shouldn't and I really appreciate that.

I think it’s important to recognize that a lot of a streamer’s success comes from their community. While each community is different, I’d say I’m friends with most people in my community and we all try our best to be encouraging and thoughtful. If someone is being toxic, I trust not only my mods, but my community members to say something along the lines of, “hey, that’s not very cool”.

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

I don't really have a brand persona, I think I'm a bit too introverted to have separate personas, it's too much work. The thing that I did have to work on was trying to talk more, even though I'm usually used to comfy silence. I’d say I’m closest to my true self and if people met me in irl, the biggest thing they’d notice is that I’m a lot quieter (in terms of volume) because my streaming mic is boosted by 8.

It was really hard for me to "brand" myself because I didn't want the focal point to be around me. It wasn't until I got my dog about 2 years ago that I based most of my branding around her. Her name is Ginkgo, based on the ginkgo tree, so I made that into my brand. I tried to focus around the things that I like the most, so my animals, plants, and gaming. My logo or icons usually encompass one of those things.

My channel has always had slow, steady growth but it was never exponential. I thought about giving up a couple times in my streaming career, but usually my mods/community would tell me that it was a matter of exposure. I hit a wall when I stuck with WoW and I saw the most growth when I started streaming keyboards. I found a really niche community that was and is steadily growing and stuck with it.

I had a lot of viewers when I streamed keyboards (around 70-100) and around 20-40 when I streamed WoW. I only decided to do the partner push after my first subathon. I got 500 subs in the first 20 mins of it and around 9 hours, I passed 1000 subs. It was the push I needed to see that I did have a large community behind me, so I decided to push for partner.

I definitely had to make a hard decision though. As much as I liked streaming WoW, I recognized that my streams had the most viewers during keyboard streams. So I made the decision to not stream WoW during the time of my push and only do keyboard content. I definitely think it is important to see what works for you and try to grow in those areas, versus trying to force something to work. My mindset was, hit partner and then I could stream whatever I wanted to without worrying about the numbers. If I didn’t get partner the first time, I would have streamed WoW again and tried another time. I am under the impression that I would have gotten it eventually but it’s definitely something I wanted to be strategic about.

What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received from a viewer?

The best advice I've received is that I need to remember that it's my stream, and my space. If someone is making me uncomfortable, I don't have to put up with it. Another good thing was thinking about my stream from a business perspective and the things that I'd need to consider for the success of my stream.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you because of your streaming?

I don't know about interesting, but because of streaming, I've gotten to meet a bunch of people that I probably wouldn't have met before! One of my keyboard sponsors is flying me out to Cali soon to celebrate their one year anniversary and I'd say that's pretty neat.

How do you balance streaming and your day-to-day life?

I usually do most streaming related things at night after my stream and try to get most of my work related things done during the day. I don't really have a set sleeping schedule but I'm normally up pretty late at night. Perks of working from home!

I try to stream around 3-6 hours per stream on average and I don't stream Wednesdays and Sundays. When I'm not streaming, I try to catch up on things I need to post on social media or work related items. I'm the type of person to try and do everything all at once, so usually I end up staying up late to finish.

I kept my streaming a secret for a long time from friends and family. I think people definitely like to keep things personal to some degree, so I tried to respect that. When people found out, almost all were surprised. I'm pretty quiet irl so I guess streaming was the last thing they expected from me. I think a lot of my family still doesn’t understand what I do but at least they try to support me. My family and friends will always comment on the things I post and that’s encouraging for me.

I don't know if this is a maintainable lifestyle but it's working for me right now. I hope one day I can make it sustainable by itself, but I know in order to do this long term, there is significant growth needed to make this financially viable. But I could see myself doing this for a long time. The plan is to continue for now and hopefully I can do this full time in the next 2-3 years but if not, there's nothing wrong about stepping away and doing something else that is more sustainable. There's a lot of hope, but also a lot of work that needs to be done so we'll see!

Tell us what tools you use for your stream

For streaming, I use Streamlabs OBS and Streamlabs Chatbot/alerts. I have used OBS and OBS Studio in the past. I use Discord, Twitter, and Instagram to post going live alerts but Discord is the most reliable way to find my schedule.

For bots, I use Streamlabs Chatbot. It's actually a separate program that Streamlabs offers but I like using it since I can use my own custom bot name.

A lot of things from my stream were commissions:

For extensions, I use Stream Closed Captioner for CC, World of Warcraft Armory for my WoW character info, and Amazon Blacksmith for people who are interested in the tools that I use.

I do look at analytics, especially when I was pushing for partner. I mostly used the analytic page that Twitch provides. I had already narrowed down that keyboard content got me the most viewers but it was also important to figure out which days were best for me and my community, as well as the times.

What are your favorite streaming resources?

I never really used any streaming resources but I do realize the importance of trying to grow your other social media platforms to help grow your twitch. The only time I actively seeked streaming resources was when I was confused on how to set up a bot or how to use a certain program and most of the time, I went to youtube for help.

Which 3 streamers inspire you the most?

  1. Scarra - I've known Scarra for a while now and I've always looked up to him as a gamer and as a streamer. He's not afraid to protect his friends/values and also does his best to answer chat and help people improve in the games that he plays. He can take a joke and he's just a great guy overall. I asked him a lot of questions as I ran into obstacles and each time, he was willing to sit down and help me out.  
  2. Lulzthax - A fellow keyboard streamer, extremely down to earth and you can tell he knows his stuff without being a gatekeeper. It's also fun to poke fun at him and he's not afraid to admit when he's wrong and when he doesn't know something. I think a lot of people respect him because he's willing to teach if you're willing to learn. He has a lot of insight to keyboards and I would like to be a streamer like him.
  3. Alkaizerx - I've watched Alk for a long time now and the thing I like most about him is how he doesn't care. I respect how he does what he wants to do and somehow his chat is the most chaotic organized chat I've ever seen. He's someone who can just play games and people will watch because he's entertaining. This goes back to me realizing that it’s ultimately the space that I create and what I want it to be.

What are your top 3 streaming tools? 

  • Streamlabs (OBS, chatbot)
  • Elgato products (cam link, stream deck, epoch cam)
  • 42 oz insulated water bottle

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

Think about your stream from a business perspective and think about why you want partner in the first place. There's nothing wrong about only streaming 1 thing that's successful and moving on from it after you get partner. That's why a lot of major streamers will play one game over and over again, because that's what gets them views, not necessarily because that's what they want to do.

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

Probably a better way to filter content for viewers and changing the DMCA regulations (but I realize there’s not much they can do there).

What are your plans for the future? 

Continue growing my platforms and eventually get to the point where I can stream full time. I do want to get sponsors eventually, but I think I need to work more on my branding and establishing myself first. I could totally see myself doing this for another 10 years if I can make it sustainable.

For keyboards, I want to build more prototypes and hopefully become a reliable source for anyone to come to when they might have questions about anything keyboard related. I’m always trying to learn more and maybe one day I’ll design my own keyboard/keycap/deskmat but that’s not happening anytime soon.

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