You may think it’s cheesy for a fan-site content producer to have a mission statement. Maybe it is. But the longer I have been at work as a SWTOR gamer who enjoys streaming, blogging, and podcasting about the game, the more I have come to feel that having a mission statement is necessary.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there have been plenty of influencing forces out there, pushing and pulling me in different directions, all of which amount to subtle exertions of pressure on my brand. I have experienced my fair share of pressure behind the scenes to stream different games, for instance, or to stream differently, focusing on different things. There have also been the pressures of real life given my role as a father to three little girls.
But it doesn’t stop there. There have been temptations inherent in trying to be successful as a streamer, the kind of temptations faced by anyone building and growing a community on Twitch: Can I make some income doing this kind of thing? How much is enough? What will be required of me in order to accomplish that goal? How flexible is that kind of lifestyle with regard to who I want to be as a person outside of being a gamer and a content producer? And what will be my style?
And so I’ve been thinking that there may be some value in sitting down and reflecting on the kind of content producer I want to be, asking myself the following sets of questions:
- What am I trying to accomplish in streaming, podcasting and blogging? What are my goals?
- How often do I want to stream, blog and podcast? What kind of time am I willing to invest? What cost am I prepared to pay since I would not be able to invest that time elsewhere?
- Will the time I intend to invest be appropriate for what I am trying to accomplish?
- What kind of content do I want to cover? What kind of games should be my focus?
- How will I consider myself successful? What are the criteria by which I intend to measure success?
In short, I have been introspecting some in the hope of coming to a cohesive definition for who I want to be as a content producer. That way I can use my definition as a compass to make course adjustments if I find myself going off course. Then let the chips fall where they may. If I have no community forming around my efforts, if I have no audience, so be it. At least I will like who I am and I will believe in myself and in what I am doing. I will have been authentic at the end of the day, the real me, the kind of me who has real friends. I will not be just the builder of a community, but a member of it too. And I will consider where I am spending my time and effort worth the cost.
(Incidentally, this kind of thing is a good, healthy exercise for every aspect of lives. There is never any harm in sitting down to think things through, weigh the cost, and give some due diligence to designing our ideal selves -then taking an honest look at the steps between what that is and where we are now, and plotting the course).
So I started my journey by considering my values, and I came up with the following short list, the items of which I feel form the guiding light of what I am trying to be as a gamer and content producer:
- I want to be a good Christian, dad, son and significant other outside of gaming first and foremost, always putting my faith and family as my highest priority.
- I want to be true to who I am, my most authentic self.
- I want to share my passion for Star Wars and for Star Wars games with friends who share my passion. Being a member of a community and having real friends matters to me.
- I do not care about making money from the endeavor in any way at all, though if any money comes my way as an incidental result, I am happy to accept it with gratitude, humbled that my friends are willing to invest in my project with their finances as well as their time.
To unpack these ideas a little, let me start by saying I truly believe faith and family comes first. I have managed to maintain a clean, family-friendly atmosphere so far in a manner that is consistent with my faith. I want to keep that up, and I’d like to invite my audience to join me in the continued effort of making that goal a reality. That doesn’t mean anyone is required to subscribe to my faith as a Christian, but I am asking my audience to respect my vision of having a clean, non-toxic, bad-language-and-lewdness-free atmosphere -and to help me to safeguard that atmosphere. My moderators are empowered to help me achieve this in their capacity as moderators too. This goal is important to me and it is important to what I am trying to achieve.
Second, being a good Dad, a good son, and a good significant other requires moderation and some sacrifice on the part of my gaming and content-production efforts -and I am okay with that. Sometimes I am going to have to say no. But it also doesn’t mean leaving my friends and viewers in the lurch when something comes up (that would be rude). So I am committed to communicating on my social media and in my stream posts if plans fall through for any reason. Having good boundaries is infinitely necessary in all of life’s endeavors, and I think keeping my stream times reasonable and moderate will eliminate my two worlds colliding.
Third, I want to be able to look back on any recent stream, blog post, or podcast and feel like I have been the authentic me. Believe it or not, I am a bit of an intellectual (one particular pursuit of which I have yet to announce, but I will in July). I might have a super-cheesy, wannabe sense of humor (if you haven’t figured that out listening to Passionately Casual Podcast by now, you never will). I’m pretty easy-going generally, although I can become passionate about things that capture my fire. I prize competence, excellence, and progression as deep, core values. And I have incredibly high standards for myself which I hope show in my layout designs, blog articles and podcast contributions. That’s why clowning around on the air doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. Sure, I am happy to grace my audience with the odd deliciously juicy morsel like singing Let It Go -but I don’t necessarily want to do that kind of thing too much lest goofball gimmicks become what I feel I need to continue doing to retain and grow my audience. Being the life of the party is fun here and there, but trying to be that way all the time isn’t true to who I am at my core. I would always much rather have a more intimate, intellectual conversation over a cup of coffee. Hopefully it makes sense, then, that the last thing I ever want to become is a clown for the ratings.
Fourth, I have a deep and profound love for Star Wars. That should be no secret. And it goes beyond SWTOR. I have struggled in the past and have failed to launch streaming other Star Wars games like Empire at War, but I think I need to redouble my effort to broaden my horizons. Battlefront II will be out soon too, and I’d like to stream it. I don’t want to broaden my focus so much that I get nothing accomplished in any game whatsoever, but I do believe widening the focus some will bring some fresh variety and will be more consistent with who I want to be as a Star Wars fan.
Fifth, I would rather have a small audience of friends than a large audience of acquaintances. Yes, I am happy to enjoy amusing moments with friends because they are the spice of streaming. And yes, I am always happy to make new friends if it means my community is growing organically and healthily. But if I were made to choose between the two, I would rather have fewer numbers of true friends than greater numbers at the cost of that kind of friendship. I don’t want to be numbers to be my focus. And I would rather not have numbers if it meant sacrificing friendship and community. So I am resisting the urge to pursue what so many consider success on Twitch. My vision is not to increase my celebrity. My vision is people. People are more important. My friends are more important. You are more important.
Sixth, money comes dead last even when my involvement in projects costs me financially. I do have a donation link set up for my stream and I will certainly have Patreon accounts set up for my projects -but I am completely happy if they are never used. I am not trying to become a full-time streamer, nor am I in it for the money. But, as I’ve said, if someone wants to contribute, I am glad to consider their contribution an investment in the project. I promise it will be used to better the project. In no way do I want to be able to pay my bills as an outcome of streaming. That’s what a job is for -and the last thing I ever want my participation in the Star Wars fan community to become is a job.
So that’s it. That’s what I am trying to accomplish with my time and effort as a content producer. I want to reiterate what I’ve said from time to time on this website and during my livestreams: I am deeply and profoundly humbled that I’ve been able to make so many good friends playing SWTOR so far. I enjoy being a part of the community and, in my own small way, being a driver of the conversation. Here’s looking forward to many more years!