Achievement Unlocked: Adulting

I wanted to share some awesome news with you all, and in order for this news to have some level of significant impact, I feel I should start from the beginning.

It was no secret that in the last few years I was not happy with where I was in life. I never thought that my hometown felt like home, I wasn’t happy with my career, and I felt utterly trapped and alone. I did what I could to get out, but there were a few opportunities that slipped through my fingers and I felt even sadder with each that flew by.

I was in a very toxic environment at the time, completely unhappy and I was even breaking down often. Luckily, I had several pillars of support in my life, some were happy that I was trying to move on with my life and others who were upset that I wanted to leave them behind  but still encouraged me to follow my dreams. They were the best. Now, I had no idea where I was meant to be, only that I would have the biggest regret if I stayed.

I made several attempts to make it to Austin. It was a city that I had visited several times over the last 5 years, and it felt like a healthier and more positive atmosphere overall. I figured… why not try to make that my new home? And try I did. I can’t go into details, but there were more than a handful of times where I received messages or calls indicating that I didn’t have enough experience or other qualifications. I never tried to get my hopes up during interview processes, but at the same time, there was always some level of expectation of success because you did your best to kick ass. But that success never came. There were even a couple of times where I felt like I was slapped in the face because I thought passion, experience, and loyalty would help me achieve my goals. No such luck. I was told my long term ambitions weren’t good enough. It took me a while to get back on my feet after that.

But I continued networking and making connections. I continued to learn all I could from my peers and role models. And even though it was hard to wake up in the mornings at times, I just kept hoping onto the belief that one day, things will work out for me.

Because of my desire to leave home, and having a couple of carrots dangled in front of me, I took a risk and didn’t renew the lease on my apartment. Not gonna lie. That was one of the most brutal things I’ve ever done to myself. Didn’t renew for a few months, opportunities slipped away, then dove into a 6 month lease, then didn’t renew again because I had a couple more things sent my way. It was a weird feeling because I was both being hopeful and making myself even sadder at the same time. If you’ve never leased month to month, it essentially adds 30% of your base rent on top of your well… base rent. And when you renew a lease for 12 -16 months, that is usually the cheapest base rent to owe, however, every year you stay in a complex, they raise the rent at least 10% every year. And if you don’t immediately renew like I did, you don’t get that 10% hike, you get lumped into the “industry average” and that went even higher. Like I said, it was pretty brutal.

I was pretty miserable at this point. Even my parents began to notice a change in my behavior. I was even contemplating talking to a professional at one point. First question I would have asked was “am I wasting my life for something that will never happen?” and the worst part is, I was pretty sure they couldn’t answer that.

After what seemed like half my life that had gone by, I found something I qualified for! And it was in Austin! I also knew someone who could give me a great referral, so I went for it. And holy crap, they contacted me back. Four phone interviews and one test later, I was on my way to meet people in person. Only, I couldn’t, I found later. I won’t go into details, but there was absolutely no bad blood whatsoever. We kept in touch and I even become friends with the people who were trying to recruit me. It was a positive experience and I wished with all my heart that our paths would cross again. Five months later. I got that glorious message.

Literally, a few weeks before I received this message, I already made the decision to go to Austin and not look back. I told my apartment complex that I was moving, and I was talking to temp agencies in Austin. I was so depressed and sad, I just decided to make the leap because I couldn’t stay in my hometown anymore as I was. Then that message came, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I said yes, agreeing to a contract, and there was such a weight that was lifted from me, I momentarily forgot that I was packing up my life and leaving everything I knew behind me.

Three amazing friends drove with me and the moving truck to Austin in November (shoutout to Mary, Bret, and Chey), and they were kind enough to even unpack all of my things in my new apartment. I started work a week later, and I couldn’t believe how NICE everyone was. My team was and is still awesome and the best people I could ever hope to work with, my department is full of talented and wonderful people, and the company culture itself made me feel so welcome like I was a real person and not just a body or a number.  I was in disbelief for the first couple months.

Then a couple more months went by, and I wondered what would become of me. The reality is, I was under contract, so there was no guarantee that I would stay on board. I started losing a teeny tiny bit of sleep due to the anxiety and fear of having to start this process all over again. I was afraid of losing the best job I ever had in my life. I was afraid of losing my team because they were more than my peers, they were my friends. My contract was due to end in May. I was sweating bullets toward mid-April. I could do the job, and I did it well. I always gave them my best, and I always made sure to take care of my team and any others I worked with. I hope that they would keep me. But in the back of my mind, I felt the career teachings of my hometown, that dreams were meant to be crushed.

I got another message. I went through four more interviews. And then I received my official offer letter.

I was driving home that day, and ended up at a stoplight. I cried so hard. And I laughed so loud.

I couldn’t tell you how scared I was for the majority of 2016. I was downright terrified at times, and I was calm and collected during others. That is, until reality set in and I thought “OMG. I’m making a mistake.” But I went with it. I went with my gut, and I went with 85% of my parents’ blessing (Mama Fried Rice was pretty heartbroken), and I followed my dreams. Somehow, it worked out.

So now I will always be an advocate of if you feel that your life is pulling you in a direction, you owe it to yourself to at least see what’s there. Will it actually pay off in the end? It might, it might not. There’s no promise that it will. But I always felt I would regret it if I didn’t at least try.

So May 1st was my official first day as (in my eyes) a full fledge adult.

Guys, it was so worth taking that risk.

EdcuALFN (1)

Moving Onto the Next Adventure in My Life

I was going to vlog this, but then eczema decided to visit my face thus I have put away the camera for the time being.

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter, you know that I am moving out of my hometown and going to Austin! This is a really big step for me. I am genuinely scared how this will affect my life. It’s not a negative feeling, but more a feeling of excitement mixed with nerves and uncertainty. For some of you, this may not seem like a big deal, but allow me to elaborate on some key points.

I have never left home. Whether my destination is Austin, Seattle, NC, or somewhere in Cali, my feelings would be the same. I was born and raised in Vegas, and I have never lived anywhere else. Seeing that I am about to enter the years of an inevitable mid-life crisis (half joking), I figured it was time to see what else life had to offer. Yes, moving out of the parents’ home is a form of independence, but I believe taking it a step further is healthy and essential to helping one grow. Does it mean I do not love my family? Course not. Does it mean I will forget my roots? Not at all. What this does mean is that I will be able to continue to grow in ways that my hometown could not provide.

I was born in Vegas, but I never felt like I belonged here.  Even as a kid, I felt out of place. A while ago, my dad admitted to me that when he picked me up from kindergarten class, he felt sad because I was always alone. I didn’t play with the other kids; I just kept to myself and stayed in my own corner. I vaguely remember that. I remember being teased because I thought differently than the rest of the class. It’s a silly memory, but I remember the teacher asking use toothpicks and marshmallows to make squares. I wanted to make a circle. And I wanted to be in the center, so the marshmallow circle could act as a barrier between myself and everyone else.

Years later, I eventually came out of my shell, but that really only meant that I could mask my loneliness and blend into a crowd better. It was hard for me to find a group of people that understood my growing interests. The few friends that I do have are always supportive of me, but even fewer of them really understood why I delved into things like conventions, social media, cosplay, community management, and video games. I could share that love with very few people, so I thought moving to a city where that was naturally abundant would be healthier for me.

I tried different circles, and while I found people who I would be friends with for years on end, I didn’t fit into the overall atmosphere. They weren’t bad environments; they just didn’t match me for one reason or another. Eventually, I realized that maybe I should try living in a different city to see if I could actually find a place that felt like home.

I want to be in a place where I could learn more than what I know. That sounds vain, I know, but I want to learn new skills, and have different experiences than what Vegas can provide. This ties in with the previous point of wanting to be around people who are like-minded. I like to create, collaborate, and be taken under the wing of a well rounded mentor. I like knowledge, but I gravitate to very specific knowledge. The casino industry doesn’t hold my interest as much as the video game/production industry. And while it’s true that you should always obtain knowledge and experience wherever you happen to be, I want to have some control over what specifically will affect my life.

Dating. 

200

I am scared. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the more scared I am, the more I want to make the leap into the new chapter. There are certainly a lot of unknowns, and I have no idea how this will work out long term, but I feel that it is certainly worth the risk of letting go of everything I am comfortable with right now. Honestly, I could not say that I lived to the fullest if I just stayed in same place for the entirety of my life.

Whenever I feel frightened to the point of being metaphorically paralyzed, I just think to myself “I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right move, but I know staying is definitely the wrong one.” And I’m good. And I continue on my path in moving forward with my life.

Austin, see you soon. ❤

Asking For Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness

I was always taught that I should be able to take care of myself, that I need to be able to look out for number one because no one else would. In truth, that is not an unfair or unrealistic statement, but I realized that in my years of adulthood, I have a very difficult time asking for assistance when it comes to matters of life and the heart. This mentality somewhat ties into my Paladins write-up about not wanting to be a burden to another person or admitting that you cannot always be the strong one that others look up to.

There is a large portion of my life that is dedicated to connecting with people whether that be through professional or personal connections. I enjoy networking and I find it rewarding when I cross paths with someone who has similar interests as myself. One of the best things about meeting and e-meeting people is that you establish connections all over the world. Even better, you find that many of these people are genuinely good people.

Fun fact: I don’t like bothering people.

Time and time again, I have conversations that goes like this:

Me: Yeah, that part of my life was incredibly rough. I don’t know how I survived that.

Friend: Why didn’t you ask for help???

Me: I didn’t want to bug people with my issues.

Friend: DUDE. Ask for help! Friend help out friends. That’s what we do!

Similar conversations have happened in the past, and I can’t count how many times they’ve occurred. I would say that my reluctance to ask for help is comprised of many feelings and emotions including stubbornness, pride, and fear. The last one is a big one. I   have two fears when it comes to asking people for help. One, I’m scared of being rejected and two, I’m scared that some form of payment is expected at a later time even though this help is being offered to me under the guise of friendship/ the goodness of someone’s heart. There have been many times in my life when accepting help from someone has backfired on me later down the road. It’s essentially “well, I did this for during that time you needed me. Now you owe me.” That is a very scary statement if you think about it.

I’ve learned to shed the poisons out of my life, but a small level of paranoia stays in the back of my mind. In present day, I find myself in a pivotal moment in my life. I know what I want to do, and I know what I need to do, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it alone. As much as I want to be the epitome of unwavering strength, I have to think about my life in realistic terms. I have to understand that yes, I am strong, but I don’t have to carry the weight of life and the world on my own every waking moment.

I asked for help. And I’m getting it. And while I’m still scared, I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did. I am reminded that I am loved, and that I have good people in my life. These people understand me, and understand the difficulties and the hardships I am experiencing. I had a good talk with a friend and she told me she believed in me. I was nearly brought to tears because I had felt so much weight lifted off of me. I could literally breathe easier. And she’s not the only one who is willing to stop moments of her life for me. That hit me so hard, and realizing that these people care that much about me made me feel like I can take anything on. How is that weak? It isn’t. It was empowering. Knowing when you need that little extra bit of help, and lowering your guard in order to initiate the request is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. It’s, I suppose, a form of baring yourself and allowing vulnerability for a moment or two.

I am in a very odd cross section in my life, and I don’t know if what I wrote made any sense. I’ve been thrown a lot of obstacles in the past year, and I am finding out more and more about myself and how I want to live my life. Hurdles, epiphanies, heartache, disappointment, and doubt have filled my mind in recent days, but I buckled down and told myself I can push through all of it. I just need a little help.

And I’m getting it.

And I am grateful for it. Forever and always.

Always Open, produced by Rooster Teeth’s Barbara Dunkleman, Just Resonates With Me

Lightning facts:

I’ve been part of the RT community for close to 11 years now

Barbara has been part of that community for longer than that, has now worked for RT for several years, and this is the first show she has ever produced.

The pilot episode for Always Open aired 9/1/16 for FIRST members of RoosterTeeth.com

I phuqing love this show.

And that is not putting down the other shows that RT has produced over the years. I love them as well, and I will do whatever I can to support them. But Always Open speaks to me on many levels. It doesn’t even feel like a show or a podcast. It feels like a genuine conversation that friends are having. Even the camerawork feels more organic. It’s fluid, it keeps your attention, and it catches the more unnoticeable mannerisms you would only normally see if you were part of the actual conversation. I really don’t know how else to explain the technical aspects of Always Open, but there you go. Some of the reasons why this show speaks to me:

1) I like that the feel of the show isn’t “MEN SUCK” or “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR”. It’s just friends who happen to be women who are talking about whatever the hell they want to talk about. Sure there is some structure as far as answering questions and such, but you don’t feel the stress of needing to address as many questions as possible. The atmosphere is super laid back and fun. Nothing seems forced at all. This show very much reminds me of hanging out with my friends and not having a care in the world.

2) Because the first episode featured an all-female cast, it resonated with me more. That’s just a very natural reaction to have. Ladies, especially women who are good friends, really do talk about this kind of stuff with each other. The stigma that women have to be proper and appropriate all the time goes out the window. These conversations are real conversations. You want to talk about relationships? Bring it. You want to talk about farts? Let’s do it.

3) The diversity. This is so important, especially for today’s audience. Yes, the cast in the first episode is all-female, but my god, the diversity was astounding. You have four women, who are very different from each other in every way. You have a difference of ethnicity, backgrounds, sexual orientation, and walks of life. And they blend beautifully. I cannot praise this aspect of the show enough. IT IS SO GOOD TO SEE ALL OF THIS IN ONE SPOT.

4) Impact on the community and viewers. I think this is a really healthy show in general. There are so many in the community who look up to these lovely ladies, so having their own show is quite empowering. It’s no secret that many see them as role models. Seeing them all in one setting will definitely make a bigger impact and stronger influence for the better. Again, this is not a knock against men or the men of RT, but I think it’s important for young women to see these conversations and understand that they are perfectly normal. It’s okay to joke around with your friends and that it’s possible to find and establish that kind of relationship with another person where you can be yourself and you won’t be judged for it.

Just talking with community members throughout the years at RTX and through the forums, I know there are many people who shrink away from their full potential because they feel they may just not fit “the norm”. I always encourage people to embrace who they are, work to become better people than who they are in present day, and change the world for the better. I want to see people bring their best, and I want to see them grow, and I want them to never forget who they are in the process.

These ladies have done this and continue to do so. I think that’s worth supporting and backing. Cheers, ladies.

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Paladins. I Don’t Necessarily Mean the D&D Ones.

I’ve had quite a few of these conversations lately, and that has lead to me writing about this topic. Everyone has a rock, someone they lean on for strength, support, and encouragement. We all have one or two, and in truth, it’s healthy to be able to vent to someone who is wiling to listen to you and not pass any judgement.

What isn’t healthy is if that is the only types of interactions we have with these specific people. There should be a healthy balance in any type of relationship, but once it becomes incredibly one-sided, it starts becoming toxic. People who are rocks are essentially paladins. They are altruistic, empathetic, and selfless to the point where they won’t openly admit when they themselves are crumbling because they don’t want to show the people who rely on them that they can no longer be supportive. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s nice being able to talk to someone because I’m usually the one people come to.”

Imagine being the journal, the ear, the foundation to multiple people who are struggling for various reasons. Now imagine instinctively carrying that weight in your mind and heart even though the conversation ended with “thanks for listening.” Paladins don’t shake those conversations, those worries or those burdens off.  Paladins accept these as their own because they feel it’s their way of contributing to life, to the world, and to their loved ones. It becomes part of them; that’s part of being empathetic.

And as much as paladins don’t want to admit it, even they struggle as well. They have their own share of misfortune at times just like everyone else, but they don’t like to tell others about it because they understand what that weight can do to someone. It’s a vicious one-way street for them more than it is a cycle.  They want to remain and appear strong for those who rely on them, and they will only break down behind closed doors.

Why am I writing this? I want people to have an understanding of the paladins in their lives. This isn’t to make them feel guilty about venting to their pillars of support, far from, but this is more to help them understand that those pillars are people too. Allow them to recharge. Understand that they also need time away from the crazy of the world. No matter how much they hold things together, sometimes, they need to step back and take a breather. One of their flaws is that they won’t ask for this break because they believe that they have to be helpful 24/7. I write this for those who  may find themselves all of a sudden wondering why their rock may disappear for a while. I write this for those who may even be angered when one of their friends goes dark for a bit. I write this for those who may only come to their paladins when they need them. I write this for those who may be paladins themselves. There is no one reason I’m writing down these thoughts, but the overall intention is understanding.

It is possible that some people will read this and spin negativity out of it. They may assume that I am writing this to make people who have troubles feel guilty about talking to their friends about their issues and problems. I am not. And that is an entirely different topic of discussion. I am writing this post to shed some light on a perspective that isn’t always thought about. I will throw in, however, that if you are only coming to shed troubles and leave, I won’t back down from saying that treating paladins like that isn’t healthy and it is unfair. People may assume that I speak for everyone on both sides, but I do not. As with all of my posts, I speak for myself and my own experiences. People can feel however they want with my posts, but it is no secret that my intention is to help, not damage.

Bottom line is whatever situation you may be involved in currently, if you have a paladin in your life to help you along, I’m glad for that. As I wrote earlier, it’s healthy to be able to share your troubles with trusted friends. I think you can agree that we need more people like them in the world. I am only asking that you remember that while paladins seem unbreakable, they are human.

My Twitch Community Asks: Why don’t you use a facecam while you stream?

The simple answer is I just like wearing ugly PJs while I play video games.

The complicated answer is a little more in depth than that.

Views: Having a large audience is crucial to a streamer’s success. Just to even be considered to become a partner of Twitch, you need to have a audience in the triple digits range (without assistance from being hosted) and you need to have a full time schedule of streaming 3-4 times a week with those steady numbers.  Another alternative is having a YouTube channel with more than 100K subscribers.

Depending on the game and what day I stream, my viewership can range from 10-25 people in the audience. My largest spike was about 66 while I was playing Dark Souls 3 for the first time. I will never forget that boss fight, nor will I forget the exchanges that happened in chat. I digress.  I will write more about that later. For a small time streamer, those numbers aren’t bad at all. I like testing the waters to see which games garner larger audiences and which ones bring in new viewers vs. regulars.

And I fully believe that using a facecam will help boost these numbers. More on that later.

The community: I acknowledge that I am by no means a big time streamer. And I also acknowledge that there are a crapton of streamers out there that no one else knows either. I like finding those people, and if I enjoy their streams, I try to support them as well. I also study and observe a variety of streamers who use a facecam and who do not use a facecam. I try to learn what works for them and what doesn’t. I make notes starting from the title of the stream being used to how they interact with chat to whether or not a facecam is even beneficial for them. Of course, some streamers don’t need any help at all when it comes to marketing themselves because they’ve already made such a name for their brand(s), they can just hit “broadcast” and they get a large audience. But for the smaller names, I pay extra attention to both their successes and their downfalls.

One note that is repeatedly jotted down is that female streamers will definitely benefit more by using a facecam.

How I stream: I think two of the reasons why people enjoy my stream are because I interact with the chat and I am a bit of a theatrical personality. I will occasionally acknowledge the chat at the expense of the progress I’ve made in a game. It makes for funny moments, and I would rather have those than ignore the people who ask questions or want to have conversations. I also get scared and enraged easily. Horror games are the worst for me and the best for my viewers.

When I first started streaming regularly on Twitch, I immediately decided on no facecam. It added a level of stress and paranoia that I did not want to deal with, especially since I wanted to learn about the culture of streaming first. It takes a lot of energy to focus on the game, focus on the chat, AND be entertaining for the chat. Worrying about a facecam was just a different level of multi-tasking I did not want to tackle out of the gate.

In case a reader may not understand this concept, everything I write and will write is my opinion only and my opinion is based off of what I have experienced and/or learned from what other streamers have experienced.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way…

These are the reasons why I don’t currently use a face cam:

  1. I’m not great at make up
  2. I hate having to worry about what to wear
  3. I hate having to make sure that camera angles are “just right” and “the most flattering”
  4. I do not want to deal with comments about what I look like
  5. I do not want to be compared to other streamers as far as physical appearance
  6. Honestly, it’s pretty funny when people ask me if I’m a boy or a girl. I call those people Professor Oak. The feature image makes sense now, doesn’t it?

These may seem like very trivial things, but let me break this down for you. Female streamers already get a bad rep because a lot of people seem to focus on the negativity of “cam girls”. There is already a stigma attached to female streamers regardless of the type of streamer they really are. The type of streamers people complain about are the women who wear the lowest cut shirts showing off their best and biggest physical assets, stream gameplay that is previously recorded and focus on everything else besides streaming a video game.  That is what I and many other female streamers are compared to off the bat.

In my Dark Souls 3 stream, the one where I had about 66 viewers in the chat, one viewer started off with “you mean there’s a girl gamer out there that isn’t a whore? Awesome.” That’s not a compliment. And it was even worse when he started bringing all that negative stuff of the aforementioned type of streamer into the chat even after mods asked him to tone it down. The whole debate of cam girls existing is something that is currently plaguing the community, and the fact that I stream, means that I am now automatically part of that regardless of my intention to be or not be involved with it..

Do I care about cam girls? Nope. It’s not my thing. They do what they do, and I’m going to do what I do. If people don’t like them, then my advice is to not support them. There are tons of streamers out there. People don’t have to harass each other or bully each other to make a statement. Rather than tearing people down, just use that energy to support and encourage streamers you do like.

Do I care about being compared to them? In a way, yes. Again, I’m just here to play video games and talk to people. If people avoid my channel because they assume that I am a certain type of streamer and they bolt, that’s not really the type of audience I want anyway. I want people who like what I do and genuinely enjoy my streams. If people like my stream, I’m very happy they give me a follow. If they donate to my stream, again that’s something makes me happy. Everything else beyond that is stuff I don’t care to delve into.

What does make up and clothing have to do with anything? Thanks to societal standards, a woman isn’t allowed to just be herself and in her most natural state. Most people would rather pay attention to a woman when she’s completely dolled up and dressed in the most flattering attire possible. Sure, there’s a time and place for everything, but demanding that she must be in her most perfect form for every second of the day in order for her to gain any amount of positive attention? Fuck that. Not everyone thinks this way, but enough people do where it’s an issue that should be addressed.

Can I wear make up? Yes. Do I enjoy it? Sometimes. I want to “look nice” for ME. I don’t want the reason for me looking nice to be making other people happy. I can’t tell you how many times people have commented on my appearance over the years. But I can tell you that not all of those comments were made to uplift my spirits. Some were made with the direct intention of crushing me into the ground. With the veil of anonymity on the internet, it’s that much easier for people to be cruel and mean to others. I’m a stronger person now than I was years ago, but I prefer not to deal with extra layers of stress when I just want to focus on video games. Being called an ugly bitch because I don’t wear red lipstick or wear brand name clothing isn’t grounds for a healthy conversation. Luckily, these are conversations I can now control and if I don’t want to have them, I don’t need to anymore.

Will you ever consider using a facecam? Yes. I’m actually thinking of doing a stream with a facecam when I hit 1000 followers on Twitch. Since being cam-less is the norm for  me, I figure I would do something out of the ordinary when I hit a milestone. I would also consider using a facecam when I have special guests on the stream as well. I’m not 100% against the use of a facecam. I just know that right now, I am trying to figure out who I am as a streamer, and I’m discovering what works for me and what doesn’t. I don’t want to use a facecam because it’s labeled as a requirement. Like makeup, I want to do it for me and when I feel comfortable with it. It is entirely possible that I will use a facecam on a full time basis in the future. If that happens, it will be on my terms, no one else’s.

That being said, there are many streamers out there who I enjoy watching. Doesn’t matter if the streamer is a man or a woman and it doesn’t matter to me if they use a facecam or not. If they are entertaining to me, I follow them. I know what I like and I do what I can to support them and their channels. I encourage you to do the same. Find something you like? Support it. Find something you don’t like? Walk away from it.  That’s what community building is all about, is it not?

To the GFR Guild: thanks for being here. I am a lucky lady to have such a very awesome community. ❤

Shameless plugs!

https://twitch.tv/geekyfriedrice

https://youtube.com/geekyfriedrice

 

Real Talk: Supporting People Doesn’t Always Mean You Have To Open Your Wallet

“Hey, I’m doing a thing!”

“Sorry… I don’t have the money to help you out right now.”

I’ve heard this conversation happen several times since I started paying attention to ways on how to market myself and what I want to represent. I, and many other friends, are journeying down the path of creating things for people’s enjoyment. Specifically with us, the focus is streaming and video production. I tend to pay extra attention to people who use and love Twitch and create content for YouTube and Vine. I also dive into those communities and immerse myself in those cultures to better understand how I fit into them.

Overall, it’s inspiring. And any time I need a creativity boost, I look to my peers. It’s amazing how much encouragement you can receive even if you don’t know someone personally. Their hard work, your understanding of what’s put into these projects not only fuel the desire to make more things, but you want to raise your personal goals and do better every time you release something out into the world.

Another boost in confidence is watching your audience, your community, grow. I’m going to be completely honest here. Numbers matter. Increases and decreases in numbers help creators determine if what they are doing is engaging, entertaining, and tells them if what they are doing is right or if they need to head into another direction.

I have many friends who support what I do, both in moral and monetary (Patreon) support. I am more than humbled that people who enjoy my content would actually donate their own money to help me along my adventures. I will always be grateful for them. Always. I know that many others are not in a position to do so, but that’s okay! I get support from them too. Here is a small breakdown of where my community stands on various social media platforms:

Twitter: 2,353 followers

YouTube: 608 Subscribers

Twitch: 675 followers

Vine: 389 followers / 356,979 loops

Now compared to big names, those numbers are SO SMALL. But, this is my community and it’s growing. And trust me, I’m not going to slow down any time soon. Now this next part of my blog will have some shameless plugs because this post in general is to show people how they can still support their favorite creators even if they aren’t able to support with donations.

Each of these platforms offer some level of engagement from the audience. YouTubers don’t say things like “if you enjoyed this video, give it a like and sub” just to hear their own voices. Views, likes, follows, retweets, any way to show a positive reaction and/or share a creator’s work are all things a supporter can do without diving into their finances. These things may be simple but they are absolutely necessary to a creator’s success. They almost act as guides and milestones to me. Whenever I make something, I get so happy when I see someone like a post or write a positive comment on it. I feel good about what I did, and it encourages me to do more and better.

And I do what I can to pass along news of projects that friends are currently involved in. I’m in the same boat as many others. I may not be able to afford supporting every single one of my friends; however, I can tell others about what they do and whenever they create something, I do my best to read or watch what they post and I give it a like or a share.

“Jackie, here’s five dollars. That stream was awesome.”

“Hilarious video. Thanks for the smile!”

“You’re entertaining. Followed.”

All of these things make my heart so happy. And each of them are important to me because these are coming from people who I affect in some way, and they in turn are bringing good things into my life. That’s more than what I ever thought possible. For those who are currently a part of the GeekyFriedRice Guild, thank you so much. For those just joining in, welcome and high fives all around!

TL;DR If you like what someone is creating. Share their stuff. Like their stuff. Subscribe to their stuff. Follow their stuff. You may not think it’s worth much, but it’s the world to that creator.

Shameless plugs! You can catch me here!

https://YouTube.com/geekyfriedrice

https://twitch.tv/geekyfriedrice

Twitter.com/geekyfriedrice

https://facebook.com/geekyfriedriceguild

https://patreon.com/geekyfriedrice

Not so shameless plugs! Here are some of my favorite creators. Please give them a like and a follow as well!

Lozelda – Streamer & YouTuber

https://twitch.tv/RT_lozelda

https://youtube.com/rt_lozelda

Mary McDowell – Streamer

https://twitch.tv/sailortweek

Naomi Chicoine – Arts & Crafts Queen

twitter.com/NaomiChicoine

Audrey Heffers – Author

https://www.inkshares.com/books/devils-in-the-valley

Shanna Germain – Author & Game Dev

http://www.shannagermain.com/

Raf Naps – Streamer & Graphic Designer

twitter.com/raf_naps

https://www.twitch.tv/shimmysham_gaming

 

 

 

Day 5. Four + Years in the Making

Haven’t seen Day 5 yet? I encourage you to do so. The series is such a huge milestone for RT as a whole because of its larger scope and the core nature of Day 5 is something RT has never produced in the past. If you’ve been a part of the community for the last few years, you know the ups and downs of the news that surrounded Day 5. If you attended RTX 2012, you may have been part of the what is now dubbed the “Joel episode” aka Episode 4 as an extra.

Back then, I didn’t know much about Day 5 at all. I was a regular weekend attendee for RTX and RT was asking for hundreds of extras to walk a street they had blocked off for a scene. Direction was simple. Walk and talk like normal, and when the signal was given, fall to the ground and don’t move until instructed. I think we did that about 5-6 times. We had to be “on set” around 6AM, I think. Probably earlier. Ben (y’all remember Ben!?) was directing our portion of the street. I couldn’t even hear what he was saying despite the fact he was using a megaphone to coordinate people, but all we needed to know was when he shouted, we were to hit the ground. It was amazing. Everyone was ON POINT. It was a simple task, but seeing and hearing hundreds of people “faint” at the same exact time was something I will never forget.

I even got to faint next to this cutie!

And I got so dirty. This was after the second fall, I believe.

We were asked to wear non-branded clothing, and I remember wearing a light blue, sleeveless, shirt. There was a baby chick on the front and it was wearing glasses. Caption read “Nerdy Chicks Rule”. Silly, I know.

But after that, I enjoyed RTX just like everyone else. I lost touch with Day 5 happenings after that. I think we all did. It seemed like it would never happen, so it was shelved for the time being. It was a little upsetting because I knew RT wanted to do something with it, but it was just not in the cards at the time.

Now, years later, we find out that Day 5 has life again! So exciting. Of course, we still didn’t know much about it, but who cared! Day 5 was coming and we were excited to see what could be done with it. Then Lazer team hit the big screen. I remember sitting in the audience, watching all the RT previews of new content. And then we saw DAY 5 flash across the screen. We cheered. And then we saw that it was meant to be a series. And people lost their damn minds. That was so cool to hear.

The finale of Day 5 will make its debut this weekend. If you’ve been meaning to check out the 6 episode series, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a bold move by RT and it is a welcome and refreshing one. Yes, we are used to seeing and hearing adult jokes, humor and “cartoon” violence, but Day 5’s platform brings realism to a whole new level. Everything about it is solid: the acting, the writing, the direction. Just give episode 1 a look and you will know exactly what I mean. I’m so happy I got to see this come to fruition.

Josh Flanagan and Chris Demarais have done a magnificent job with this series, and I cannot wait to see the finale. Special shoutout to Aaron Marquis for making it rain recently. Matt and Burnie should give you all raises 😉

But seriously, Josh, Chris… incredibly happy and proud of you both. Now give me season 2. Kthxbai. ❤

Watching Your Community Grow is Like Witnessing a Seed Bloom Into a Garden of Awesome

I will be the first to admit that I am not always the most patient person. But I will also acknowledge that this is solely dependent on what I am waiting for. If I was waiting for someone in a store to check out and they had 50 coupons and was paying via personal check, I would just stand back and wait. However, if I were playing a video game like The Last of Us, I lose all forms of patience while waiting for a Clicker to walk by my hiding spot.

But here I am on July 26, 2016, looking over numbers and stats, comments and responses on various social media platforms that I manage on my own. I have moments where I think to myself “holy crap… I interact with people A LOT.” I remember back when I was a kid, I was very shy. I didn’t play with other kids; I just kept to myself in my own corner. My dad said he would feel bad whenever he would pick me up from school because I was always alone. I was considered a strange bird by many. I remember learning about shapes. The teacher asked us to makes squares, and I made circles. I got made fun of for it. A lot of that awkward carried over into my teenage and young adult years. I always felt out of place wherever I was. I could get along with people just fine, but I never felt like most people really understood me. There were a few, but they either moved away, physically or emotionally.

In the last couple years, I really started focusing on me. I didn’t have a solid plan, but I found the beginnings of a path that was interesting to me, and I blindly went down it. My love for video games never waned, so I learned more about the industry, the people, the products, and I found that I loved video games even more. A former co-worked connected me to Randy Greenback and he was my first look into the welcoming culture of game development. He may not know it, but the few conversations we had changed my life for the better. By the way, he’s currently working on the new Friday the 13th game. You should totally check it out.

With Randy’s helpful and wise words backing me, I delved into the world of networking. I was more active on Twitter, I eventually created the blog that is currently housing the very post you are reading, and I focused on the elements of community and bringing people together. I’ve met and e-met so many different people, good and bad, it’s quite mind blowing to me. I’ve had amazing experiences and not so great ones, but I couldn’t find a better fit for my personality.

Fast forward to now. I have a small following on the internet and it’s a fascinating mix of acquaintances, friends, family, and completely strangers. While the numbers aren’t huge compared to the bigger names on these platforms, I find solace in knowing that this is MY community. I don’t have one focus either. I update Twitter primarily, but I am active on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, this blog, Vine, and a few others. I try to create an environment where there is something for everyone. That’s why I made the GeekyFriedRice Guild. Doesn’t matter if you love just anime or video games or cosplay or movies or if you love it all… you have a place here. Nerdy? Geeky? Great. You’ll fit right in! I enjoy conversing with people of different backgrounds because it helps shape and grow my own perspective of the world.

I didn’t think I would be here. I didn’t think I would be attending or volunteering for conventions and building relationships and friendships. I didn’t think that people would actually care about me or the things I love doing. I didn’t think people would come up to me and say “you don’t know me but I wanted to say hi and thank you for what you’re doing.” I didn’t think I would ever be that type of influence for people, but it’s happening, and I recognize that, and it makes me want to do better. And this isn’t all on me either. You guys help me a great deal as well. This is a two-way street here. I hope you all know how much I appreciate you.

I just recently identified my community as the GeekyFriedRice Guild. I’m not sure exactly what the future holds for it, but it warms my heart that you are here. For real. I’m being super cereal. Thank you for being my community. Less than three you!

IMG_4056

 

 

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

Definition of a community straight from Google.

People have time and time again asked me how to grow a following, build a community and how to network with those in a given industry. Truthfully, I am both humbled and bewildered that people would seek my advice in this category; however, I have come to realize that there is a level of “success” I have achieved over the years and the best rewards I have received are genuine friends and good life experience. I found myself responding with the same answers, so I wanted to consolidate them here. Please also keep in mind that while I try to be as helpful as possible, these concepts may not work for everyone. They are my own personal experiences and what work best for me. Second note, I primarily work within the video games/video production industry.

How do you use social media effectively? Short and simple of it is to just use it. If an application is widely used, you have to teach yourself how to utilize it regardless of how you feel about the interface or the overall process of the platform. You may like Twitter more than Snapchat, but both are “in” so if you want to reach a wide audience, then buck up and get to learning. You’ll find out what engages people and what drives them away. No matter what social media platform you decide to start out with, I suggest following the most popular profiles, the people who are juggernauts in that given audience. What do they produce? How do they interact with people? What’s makes them attractive to their followers/subscribers? When I say popular accounts, I don’t mean the ones that can just say “hi” and have that post spread like wildfire. I mean the ones that actually produce content in some form. You want to study people who are engaging.

Twitter works best for me as it’s a very convenient tool to use for keeping tabs on friends and people and companies that interest me. I use it as a source of not only maintaining my personal relationships but also a resource for networking and keeping up with industry news. I enjoy interacting with people whether or not they know me. Whatever I reply to, I try to ensure that it contains a certain level of quality to it as I want to bring value to the conversation. Maybe I felt like complimenting someone on their food photo or recent career achievement, maybe I wanted to offer some insight or somehow uplift a person’s spirits because they needed it. Whatever my response would be, I always aim for my words having purpose. Understand that how you respond to a company account or someone you don’t know should differ from how you interact with friends and family. That is something you should never forget.

When people say I don’t have the time to do all that. Make some. Find a balance in your calendar. One aspect of growing your community shouldn’t be your entire focus. Spread out. Example, you may be a pro at tweeting, but you cannot expect to build a following if you don’t want to invest in any others. Networking is hard and it takes time, but you will be surprised with what you learn not only about companies and industries you are interested in, but also things about yourself. If you go out into the unknown and interact with people, you will gain a lot of varied social interaction experience. You will make some mistakes, but you cannot let that hover over you for the rest of your life.

A little secret from me, I never view people as numbers or objects even if they see me that way. Bottom line in this scenario is that you learn about which people/companies you would rather stay away from as opposed to invest time in. A lot of people take this perception personally. Why? If someone openly showed their hand and it’s not to your liking, they just did you a huge favor. Think about it as a personal relationship. If your significant other revealed that you were nothing more than an object to them, you wouldn’t stay, right? Move on and gravitate toward people who would support and encourage you. That’s what I do. I want to be around people who believe in me, not drag me down. But in order to find those people, you have to do some searching. So make time to find your community. Growing an audience is part doing what you love and people finding you and part you going out and telling them that you exist.

One thing I’ve started doing is going through Twitch and finding streamers who are entertaining and interact with their chat. It’s how I would want to treat my Twitch channel, so those are the people I want to support whenever they go live. Turns out, a few of them stop by in my channel every now and then as well. Win-win.

Be genuine. People can pick up when you are not being truthful or sincere. It may not be immediate, but your actions, your words and how you present yourself make an impact on a lot of people regardless if you are in the spotlight. People know people and people talk to those people. Your reputation starts as soon as you make that first post or say that first word.

Branding. I asked people what reminded them of me and my friend, Don, said geeky fried rice. I rolled with it and it’s been my personal brand since then. My friend over at Ruby Glue Design developed the logo and I worked on how I wanted to present myself. Ultimately, I want to create a place where geeky and nerdy is accepted and required. In my younger years, my geeky hobbies were looked down upon and I was teased constantly for them, but as I’ve grown to accept myself and my passions, I decided that I want to create and provide sanctuary to those who just want to be themselves. It doesn’t matter if you love comic books or video games only or if you just love movies or cosplay…you have something in your life that you love, and I want to help you embrace and celebrate that.

tetris

Accept that you don’t know everything. There are tons of people out there who are more experienced and knowledgeable than you.  Look up to them and learn from them, even more so if you don’t see eye to eye on everything (I am serious about that). You need people who can make you see outside YOUR box. Even if you have negative experiences with people in the same field, the most important thing is that you learn something from them. There are mentors everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same type of personality. Some are friendly, and some are tough and it’s good if you run into a variety of them. It’s the best way to grow.  Keeping an open mind when you want to show that you are unwavering in what you do is great, but remember, there is a time and place to be confident and a time and a place to be humble.

Support others who are in the same boat as you. This ties into the making time to network point. Empathy is your best friend here. On your journey to building your community, you will find many others who are on the same path as you. You may not necessarily be side by side on this adventure, but your overall destination is the same. You will go through the same struggles and obstacles and you will find what your strengths and weaknesses are. You will also surprisingly learn these things of your peers. Often times, you will bounce ideas off of each other, collaborate together and you may even be in a position of offering a second opinion or advice to a comrade. I have witnessed people unintentionally shoot their peers down before any constructive criticism can be mentioned and it’s pretty brutal to watch. Don’t agree with how someone is executing a project? There’s many different ways to express that and saying “why bother? That’s f***ing stupid” or “you might as well give up right now” is not the best approach. More than anything, I want to not only build my own community, but I want to help others do so  with theirs. If I am not 100% on board with a friend’s idea, I will offer both constructive feedback and a different approach that they can consider in the future. Whether or not they take that advice doesn’t affect me, but the ways in which I offer my support matter a great deal to them.

Expectations. Stuff doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continually work to maintain your relationships, your connections, your brand, how you present yourself and of course, you have to just keep putting content out there. Keep moving forward. If you want this to happen, then don’t stop because you ran into a few obstacles. Of course you’re going to run into walls. Nothing worth having has ever been easy to acquire.

I never thought I would be here posting blogs, creating YouTube videos, making Vines, livestreaming video games and building a community of my own. My past self would never believe it. But I’ve found my niche and I don’t plan on stopping.