Unlike most streamers, DistractedElf, was a full-time content creator from the second she started over five years ago. With a financial safety-net build from her time overseas teaching English, and after learning that there was a quicker, more-real connection that could be made as an alternative to VOD comments, she knew she wanted to start streaming on Twitch.
“I knew I had the time to commit to streaming every day, so I gave it a try. It felt so easy and natural to engage with people and I’ve been full-time ever since.”
Though she was creating content full-time, it took a good two years to formulate an audience large enough to support with an actual full-time income via tips, and she would would work odd-jobs when necessary. A MOBA content creator at first, she started by playing League of Legends dressed as an elf.
“People want to watch the either best player or someone who is entertaining. I wasn’t good, so I definitely relied on in-game gimmicks to push through that barrier.”
Unlike many streamers, DistractedElf did not apply for Partner when she started to see some success. Instead she focused on building a small, tight-knit community. After consistently being at the top of the DawnGate directory and having regular interactions with the developer, at the urging of her community, she applied and was accepted.
Fairly early into her partnership, she was forced to figure out an entirely new content strategy for her channel when DawnGate was cancelled and the servers shut down. That’s when she started creating tabletop role-playing campaigns with her community and focusing on strategy games like XCOM and BloodBowl. You can still find her collaborating on weekly TPRG campaigns on Roll20, and hosting her own talk show for past with AshleyNova called The Trans Agenda, informational podcast for trans viewers, along with various gameplay on her channel.
Perhaps DistractedElf’s most empowering quality throughout all of her content is the welcome and accepting attitude she’s helped foster for the LGBTQIA+ community on Twitch, specifically after going through her own transition during her time on Twitch.
“Being accepting and talking about queer-space stuff is part of what I do. Transitioning publicly isn’t something many Twitch streamers have done, and it was amazing to see how welcoming my community has been. Because of them, it was easier to start to process of coming out and transitioning.”
While the process hasn’t always been easy, she says that part of what has made it easier for transitioning her content into new spaces is that new viewers tend to focus on her as the streamer, not necessarily always the content she is creating.
“My transness is relevant to a lot of what I do, but it’s more about visibility and representation in this space than it is about my content. My job is to present a front that shows people that hateful people don’t have to bother you if you don’t want it to. If myself and other trans streamers can do what we do, so can you.”
Her biggest advice for new and growing streamers to create warm and accepting environments like she has boils down to how you moderate your chat.
“I often hear that growing streamers are afraid of getting rid of toxic elements because it’s also getting rid of a viewer. You can’t grow your community if the silent majority is uncomfortable. Presenting a front that discusses issues and communicates your values is how you build a strong community, which then evolves into friends and family. People want to belong to something better.”
She’s focused on spreading this message at the past two TwitchCons appearing on panels called “Dire Straights” and “The Gayest Panel at TwitchCon”, as well as collaborating with the It Gets Better Project on a panel focused around moderation best practices.
“I love TwitchCon, if only because it’s a big party with the entire community. Even if you don’t know each other, you will by the end of weekend. It’s great to have that sense of togetherness.”
“It’s different than a gaming convention, because the focus is Twitch, which means the focus is YOU, in all the best, most growth-filled way. I’ve met people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, including content creators and fans.”
You can meet DistractedElf, and thousands of other creators, at TwitchCon 2018 in San Jose. Get your tickets here.