One year ago, I challenged myself to live stream on twitch for 365 days straight. This meant no days off, no breaks, no excuses... just a commitment I wanted to make to both myself and to my viewers.
I recorded my first live stream on twitch.tv in March 2014. I had no goals of high viewer counts or becoming popular, I just wanted to stream games like Contra and Zelda on the original NES so my friend Mikey could watch over in Tokyo.
I was amazed that I could play a video game and my friend on the complete opposite side of the planet could watch with me and comment in real time. I had been posting videos on YouTube for 5 years, but Twitch took connecting to viewers to the next level. It was a way for gamers to connect in a way I had never seen before and I wanted to be a part of it!
At the time, I had a full time job in web and software development. I was looking for a higher paying job and going on job interviews once or twice a week. I managed to get offered two higher paying positions but they were jobs I knew I wouldn't enjoy. On top of the stresses of interviews, my landlord told me they wanted to renovate the building I lived in so I had one month to move out.
I didn't realize it at the time but the stress was really wearing on me. I had to take a step back and focus on what would make me happy. I talked with my boss and got a raise at my current job. I found a new apartment, and the first day I was all moved in, I decided to focus on what I had fun doing. This was the beginning of my 365 days of streaming.
I remembering thinking to myself, “It'd be amazing if I could get 3,000 followers by the end of 365 days”. At the time, I had around 200 followers.
October rolled around and I planned a big month long event simply called “Horror Month”. I was determined to complete a new horror game every 2-3 days based on user votes. The goal was to show my followers my favorite horror games while also exploring new horror games and experiencing them together for the first time.
I started out the month playing P.T. Silent Hills which is absolutely the scariest game I have ever played. I will never forget the moment when I first saw Lisa standing directly behind me in that bathroom mirror (highlight).
During this month, I managed to complete 14 amazing horror games including the original Silent Hill, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Fatal Frame & many more. All month, one game kept getting brought up: Five Nights At Freddy's!
At the time, I wasn't very familiar with the game and didn't know what is was about. All I knew was that it was very popular and easily the highest voted game on the list. I decided to stream Five Nights At Freddy's as the last game of the month to celebrate the conclusion of “Horror Month”.
Soon after I started up the game, I quickly understood exactly why this game was so popular. Through amazing audio design and simple game mechanics, it induced a level of paranoia, suspense, and fear that reminded me of old Alfred Hitchcock films like “Read Window” and “Psycho”. It took cute and adorable animatronics, similar to the kind I enjoyed at Chuck E Cheese growing up, and emphasized how creepy they could be when no one was around and you were alone in a dark building...just you and them.
The entire game was a blast to stream, but Night 6 was special. The night was much more challenging than the previous 5 nights. As I was learning how to keep the animatronics away, Chica locked my right door. I was gonna die... it was only 1am and there was nothing I could do.
I looked over at chat and began reading messages from viewers. Just goofing around, I started spamming the left light and left door. As I waited for Foxy to come and get me, I frantically opened and closed the door when all of a sudden, I heard a horrifying scream! Foxy had tried to attack but I opened the door at just the right moment to prevent him from getting in!
The Foxy scream was much longer than usual and as we heard it trail out, it sounding like a child screaming. Chat blew up and started saying, “You killed Foxy!”. A minute later, Bonnie popped up at the door but just stood there. I had glitched the game. We waited through the rest of the night while chat and I sat in awe of what had just happened!
I had killed Foxy! The excitement during this moment was unlike anything I had ever experienced on social media before. The viewers and I were howling at how we had killed Foxy and everyone wanted me to post the highlight clip to my YouTube channel. I uploaded it the next day and it is still to this day my highest viewed YouTube video with over 2 million views.
Later that week I emailed Scott Cawthon (creator of FNAF):
“I just wanted to write and let you know how much fun I have had with Five Nights At Freddy's. My stream and I have had a blast with the game and I finally beat 20/20/20/20 mode tonight (after many hours).
...I'm really looking forward to streaming Five Nights At Freddy's 2 and just felt like I should write you and congratulate you on creating such a creative and challenging game.”
To my surprise, he replied within a couple of hours thanking me for sharing my experience with him.
A few days later, Five Nights At Freddy's 2 was released and it was one of the major contributors to my Twitch success. The game had a surprise unannounced release around midnight November 10, 2015. I got a tweet that the game was released while I was in bed ready to sleep for work the next day. I jumped out of bed to check steam and lo and behold, it was available for download!
I quickly downloaded the game and managed to complete all 6 nights and all custom nights(except Golden Freddy Mode) in the first 6 hours of it's release. I continued to stream the game every day hunting for Easter eggs and completing custom night challenges including Golden Freddy Mode. I was one of the first people to complete this challenge and I would easily classify it as one of the most difficult challenges I have ever completed in gaming.
I continued to gain followers and after 6 months of streaming every day for 4+ hours, I decided to apply for acceptance into the Twitch Partnership Program. I got accepted into the partnership program which meant that viewers could now subscribe to help support my channel. This allowed me start making at least a small amount of money streaming, but to me, it was more of a validation that I had made the right decision to stream every day for a year.
A few months later, Scott Cawthon added me to his VIP early access list for Five Nights At Freddy's 3 and I did a 24 hour charity stream on the day of it's release. This is one of my favorite moments of the entire 365 challenge. During this stream, I had over 5,000 concurrent viewers and was in the top 10 streamers on the entire Twitch website. We managed to raise nearly $1,000 for my local children's hospital, I gave out 20 free copies of the game to viewers who couldn't get the game on their own, and we were the first to uncover and solve all of the mini-games to unlock the true ending for the game together.
To be able to share a moment in gaming like I did during that stream is an incredibly rare opportunity and such an amazing experience. It is something I will remember for my entire life.
I look back on the past 365 days of streaming and realize how much effort I have put into the stream and how much support viewers have shown me over the past year. I remember the amazing moments we've had on the stream, all of the fan art and positive comments on twitter, the messages viewers have written me thanking me for helping them get through hard times, and the streamers I've influenced to start streaming themselves.
Many people often ask me how to get more viewers or how to get “popular” on Twitch. While Twitch may appear to many as just playing video games and hanging out drinking Mt. Dew, if you focus your channel on building a community and promoting a positive influence to improve people's lives, you can make it so much more than that.
I never expected to receive this much support and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has followed and watched my stream this past year. I appreciate each and every one of you and want to personally thank you all for watching and supporting my dreams!