Think you need to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a new PC to begin your new online career? Kim doesn’t agree and explains why talent doesn’t need the cash.
Every morning during my commute into London, I use the time to scan WordPress for any interesting posts related to video gaming. New blogs appear on a regular basis and there’s always something fascinating to read; many talented writers across the world share original and thought-provoking opinions each day, with well-explained justifications to back them up. Every now and again I come across an article which sparks the inspiration to write and this happened again last week when I found a short post by an author I’d never noticed before.
I checked out their site in full and the initial articles were actually rather brilliant, their passion for video games coming through clearly in their writing. Unfortunately however, the time between their posts grew longer and after a couple of months they eventually explained that PC issues were the cause of the increasing delays. The latest piece on their blog was a pleading speech about how they were unable to afford a new machine and a request for any readers to donate to their personal campaign on Indiegogo.
A quick search for the term ‘PC’ on the crowdfunding platform revealed a number of projects in a similar vein, asking for donations to be used for purchasing new equipment – usually to aid the transition to becoming a YouTuber or streamer. For example, William Keep wanted to use the money to ‘by [sic] a brand new gaming Pc’ and ‘create a YouTube channel’. And Rocelle Cadavos was asking for $1,500 as she has ‘a potato notebook’ and is ‘too poor to afford a high-end laptop / pc’. I’m hoping that the campaign by Coaliz, simply described as ‘We’re poor and need new computers’, was meant to be an ironic take on the current status of crowdfunding but a part of me thinks this sadly isn’t the case.
While some platforms such as Kickstarter prohibit personal ‘lifestyle’ projects, they’re not against Indiegogo’s guidelines.
But I can’t help feeling uncomfortable with such projects and in part that’s to do with the way they’re presented. I understand that for some, this is the only avenue to be able to finance the purchase of a new PC or related equipment; however, the ‘I want to be a YouTuber and / or streamer’ argument isn’t enough to make me want to donate to your campaign. There are thousands of these ‘celebrities’ out there, of varying degrees of success, so why does the world need one more? Tell me what you’re going to do differently. Explain why there’s never been a stream like yours before. Make me want to buy into the vision for your channel and be a part of something original. Simply saying that you need a new machine so you can play games and leaving it at that just isn’t going to cut it.
Perhaps another reason for my uncomfortableness is the fact that I’m in my thirties and have a different outlook than younger campaign owners. When I was in my teens, I would have been told to get a job if I’d asked for money for PC parts or new releases – which is exactly what I did. Yes, I had to fit the hours around my college work; yes, I had to put up with leery old men coming into the hardware store and asking which wood was best; and yes, I might have been paid minimum wage for the privilege. But it meant I had a salary with which I could purchase whatever I chose to save up for, and that was something to be proud of.
As said by mikeeteevee on Reddit: “When did peoples [sic] dreams suddenly become replacement for hard graft?” And our very own Ben has a similar opinion: “Personally I don’t agree with (or have the testicular fortitude to) just ask people for money. I’m a big believer in earning your keep and if you’re demanding handouts, it doesn’t sit well with me. Folks will still ask, and folks will still give and that’s fine. Just not for me.”
Alongside this, fame wasn’t something routinely chased as a career fifteen years ago. Everyone around me in college was working towards being doctors, policemen, scientists and teachers, whereas nowadays the focus seems to be more on singers, actors, footballers and even reality TV stars. The market has become saturated with people who think they can make a livelihood out of playing video games on YouTube and Twitch; and many of them simply end up turning into exaggerated versions of themselves just to pull in viewers. As I’ve written on 1001Up before: if your channel ends up turning into a medium more for your ego and less for the hobby you claim to love, you’re not taking your audience and video games seriously.
However, things change over time and becoming a YouTuber or streamer can now be a valid and worthwhile career. Advances in technology bring about all sorts of new opportunities for our future – including vocation prospects – and we should embrace them. But still: is it really necessary to launch crowdfunding campaigns to start out? Obviously you’re going to need some hardware but you don’t necessarily require the highest-spec machine; and if purchasing a PC is way out of your range, then save up for a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and you can stream straight from the console. You don’t have to play the latest blockbuster titles as there are plenty of amazing indie games out there; and waiting for Steam sales and Humble Bundle deals can yield amazing discounts. And the free versions of software such as XSplit and Kdenlive (as suggested by Tim over at GeekOut South-West) can facilitate streaming, recording and video editing.
If you have the talent and the drive, you won’t need all the gimmicks and fancy equipment to draw in the viewers.
The most important thing you need to become an internet personality is just that: a personality. And I’m not talking about copying an existing celebrity here; they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but we don’t need another PewDiePie or Markiplier, and you won’t resort to becoming a gross, over-exaggerated version of yourself if you truly believe you have what it takes. If you have the talent, the drive to put in the hard work and hours along with a personality that engages your audience, you won’t need all the gimmicks and fancy equipment to draw in the viewers.
That’s not to say it’s going to be easy though. Streamers we’ve had the pleasure of speaking to have all said how much of an uphill battle it is in the beginning but the keys to success are dedication and perseverance. There’s no reason why you can’t focus on education or employment during the day and then concentrate on your internet career in your spare time, doing both side-by-side until you’ve got some experience under your belt. Ultimately however, a job is a job and there’s always something about any career that its owner ends up disliking: it isn’t necessary simple to make a living from the hobby you love.
And as for the crowdfunding campaigns for personal ‘lifestyle’ projects, launch one if you feel the need but please provide a little more detail than just ‘I need a new PC’. Your audience is only going to donate to a cause they deem worthy and, while everyone has their own unique definition of the term, giving a one-liner about how poor you are isn’t going to inspire as many as you hope. As Ben said: “Funders are free to give their money however they please, of course they are, but I would question the morals of someone asking for cash from strangers with no (or limited) intention of giving something in return. It just doesn’t feel right.”
Perhaps it’s best to stop looking at getting money for nothing, and start thinking about how to set your stream free.