Like many 90’s kids, Data_Dave (aka Dave) had his first gaming experience on a family console. After spending weeks beating ToeJam & Earl on his auntie’s Sega Genesis, his interest in gaming was piqued. He solidified his passion for gaming after getting his own GameBoy and spent the next decade exploring the Pokemon universe on a beloved quest to catch ‘em all. Fast forward to 2014, and it’s no surprise that Twitch Plays Pokemon drew Dave’s attention to Twitch. “I saw the memes in high school and college campuses, and the idea that all these people in chat could come together to play Pokemon was pretty cool,” he said.

During a casual gaming session, one friend mentioned they were streaming to Twitch and encouraged Dave to try it out. “I knew very little about Twitch other than Twitch Plays Pokemon, so when I first got my 1-2 viewers who I didn’t already know, we had real conversations and it hit me - this was a way to meet other people through playing games, and all of a sudden we had a community.”

Dave read an article on Reddit “What I’ve Learned after 145 Straight Nights of Streaming” and wanted to try his own streaming challenge, which turned into more than a year of consecutive daily streaming. His dedication and consistency resonated with viewers, and his community continued to grow.

“Being the gamer in my family, and even among the people I’m in college with, it’s been amazing building an extension of my family through Twitch.”

While streaming full time, Dave pursues PhD in Human-Centered Computing. His passion for gaming wasn’t on track with game development, but instead with exploring the idea that video games have a strong impact on us as people. This concept lives at the heart of his community.

I want people to tune in and say “I left happier than when I went in.”

When he realized that his community often drew in a younger demographic, he opted to incorporate two central themes. First, “Let me be the best I can be for them,” and secondly, the idea of asking his viewers, “What are you happy about today?”

For some, the idea of holding up a consistently positive attitude can seem overwhelming, but for Dave, he says the support of his community is what allows him to do so.

“It keeps ME up, having a positive community. I’ve had plenty of days when outside things are going wrong, but I’m in a better mood from streaming and it lifts me up in return.”

His streaming tip is to find a game you really enjoy and that can grow into a community, and then get to know people IN that community - big AND small. He focuses on building personal relationships with his viewers, asking them about their families or events they’ve focused on. He emphasises that what keeps his community so strong is that they continue to interact even when he isn’t streaming by chatting on social media and hanging out in his community members’ streams as well.

“When I started out, streamers who I looked up to stopped in my stream and it gave me a lot of joy, so if you’re watching my content and supporting me as well, I want to pass that experience forward. It’s a good feeling. It pushed me to keep working and keep working, and I want to do that to other people too.”

As for his next steps, he wants to continue streaming and take it to the next level by engaging more creatively with even more people.

Get your tickets now for TwitchCon 2018 in San Jose, CA, where you can meet Data_Dave and learn more ways to build your own community.