If you haven’t heard of Elspeth, there’s still a good chance you’ve heard her. When she’s not streaming on Twitch, she’s voice acting – most notably as the voice of Tristana in League of Legends, Cadence in Crypt of the Necrodancer, Xian Mei in Dead Island: Epidemic, Kirin in Battle Chef Brigade, and many other roles in games and commercials.
Though she’s always been a gamer, her main goal was once to write music (and if you stop by her stream, you can sometimes catch her playing guitar, percussion, the ocarina, or a didgeridoo – yes, seriously). She began writing music around age eight, and it wasn’t until she attended her first GDC (Game Developers Conference) on a whim in 2011 that her passion for working in the video game industry ignited.
Elspeth started uploading content in 2012 with a focus on making Let’s-Play videos, but a close friend encouraged her to do impression videos after hearing her casually make them while playing. Much to her surprise, those videos caught the attention of Brace Yourself Games and she was offered the voice role of Cadence in Crypt of the Necrodancer. She was still a student at the time, and she’d never seriously considered voice acting as a career path.
“It’s hard to explain how surreal and gratifying hearing yourself in a video game can be. I thought, ‘I’m gonna make this great, no matter what. Even if it fails, I’m going to have a valuable learning experience.’”
It was at that point she really wanted to challenge herself, so she spent over 12 hours filming and editing a video where she did impressions for every Champion in League of Legends.
“I was in class with my laptop open, and my friend asked ‘Hey, didn’t you make this video?’ I was watching it go viral in real-time.”
After being circulated across Twitter, Reddit, and Kotaku, LoL developer Riot reached out and asked her to audition for a character in the game. She recorded her voice over in her closet, hoping that the older equipment she was using would be enough. They asked her to come out in California to formally record, and she officially became the new voice of Tristana.
In 2014, Elspeth expand her content to include streaming. Her first stream was on an old iMac with a built-in webcam, and she used a phone to monitor the stream and a secondary laptop to watch chat. While she had a great microphone, she struggled with low frame-rates and 20 viewers during her first stream, which she described as intimidating and nerve-wracking. Even with 9 FPS, she started connecting immediately with viewers.
“Not only was I playing games and playing League of Legends, but I was IN the game and that really resonated with people. Someone who was involved in the game, was also a gamer themselves.”
A month later she took a big risk, investing the scholarship money that was meant for textbooks on a high-performance computer, much to the chagrin of her parents.
“I told my parents, ‘Guys, listen, this is gonna work, trust me.’ I didn’t really have a plan, but it seemed like this could be something that not only would I be able to have fun with, but that I could turn into a career.”
The production quality of her streams skyrocketed, viewer interaction rose, and best of all, she still managed to pass the semester with flying colors (and for what it’s worth – it’s still the computer she uses today). She started going to events and conventions and eventually saw incremental growth on her channel.
“It was always small, a few people or a few more chatters, but it was something positive.”
She made the leap to full-time creator in January 2015 after graduating university.
“Before then, I was working on my BS in Game Design, streaming, making YouTube videos, developing a game for my capstone project, auditioning for voice acting roles, and trying to balance life and family. After ALL that, I got to tell people that good things happened and there’s more on the horizon.”
Elspeth cautions new creators that going full-time doesn’t always equal growth, and that she doesn’t attribute her success to streaming more hours.
“When people say they go ‘full time’, that means 40 hours. That’s not feasible for me, I’d get burned out. I do 4, maybe 6 hours a day, with the occasional marathon stream, but consistency is how I got successful – not more time.”
Over her years on Twitch, she’s made an effort to seek out opportunities to use her platform for good. Her community has raised over $50k for charities like St. Jude, Extra Life, Quest for the Cause, Hurricane Harvey/Red Cross, and the International Elephant Foundation.
You can catch Elspeth this year at TwitchCon, where she’ll be continuing her streak of attending every TwitchCon, and speaking about building a community, voice acting on Twitch, and much more.
“Finally being able to put faces to family, finally seeing the viewers who have been supporting me – it’s an incredibly grateful feelin.. I can interact with people who have watched since the beginning, and now I can respond to THEM and what THEY were saying and learn THEIR life story. Twitch has brought us together and we fostered a wonderful place to be in our own tiny corner of the world.”
Get your TwitchCon tickets today and meet her in San Jose!