Saturday, March 2, 2024
FeaturesSpotlight Interviews

Spotlight on… The Gaymer Pups

The Gaymer Pups, Hachi and Cruze, are a Twitch streaming couple who identify as gaymers, bears and pups. We love when worlds collide and when various communities in our wonderful LGBTQ family come together to form these awesome people!

When I met The Gaymer Pups, I instantly wanted to find out all about them so I sat them down for a quick chat to get to know them more.

Hey both, let’s start out with you introducing yourselves to our readers.

Hachi: Hi I’m Hachi, I’m 33 years old and I’ve been involved in the pup community for about a year and a half now and out for about 15 years. I still identify as a bear as well. I’ve pretty much been playing video games all my life. My first system was a Nintendo when I was 4 years old. I started playing boardgames and tabletop games around college and have been enjoying it ever since.

Cruze: I’m Cruze, I’m the Moopup, you can see my cows and stuff all around the page. I’m poly, non-binary pansexual and have been a pup for about 5 years. I’ve probably been an avid video game player since I was five but I think, I’ve gotten into more table top games and table top role playing games in the last year that I never had the chance to really touch growing up. 

The Gaymer Pups
When did you start streaming and how did it all start?

Cruze: I think I’ve been streaming now for about 18 months, I had started several months before I met Hachi actually.

Hachi: When I met Cruze they were doing this streaming thing, and was already enamored by them, so I decided to create a Twitch account to follow Cruze. Eventually that lead to creating my own channel because I was already playing video games so why not have others enjoy?

Cruze: I had a couple friends who streamed, and I had been spending my evenings alone mostly gaming by myself; so I did some research and went out and got a basic set up, and put together something for my PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and casually started playing while my friends jumped in and chatted in the evening. Created a nice time of the day where I could catch up with lots of them. 

Hachi: Sometimes I would host Cruze on my stream and I would go on their stream. Our audiences loved that. So after a hiatus for a couple months, we decided to come back to streaming but as one combined channel. Thus the gaymer pups were born. During that break we really got into boardgaming and so we decided that we also wanted to incorporate that into our stream. Phase one was video games, and hopefully phase two will bring board games into the loop.

What do you mainly play on your stream?

Hachi: We play games that we’re heavily into. We like to share our likes and passions with the world.

Cruze: I normally enjoy playing lots of RPG games and there has been couple FPS over the year and more and more indie games as I’ve enjoyed more of the old school styled 2D side scrollers.

Hachi: I usually enjoy playing action and horror games. As well as anything with a damn good story. Additionally, we know that perhaps not everything we like is their cup of tea so we try to find a happy medium there.

Cruze: You will normally see lots of the bigger titles as they come out on out, like Pokémon, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, Super Smash Bros, and the new Animal Crossing that’s just around the corner!  We do have multiplayer nights we make specially for our followers where they can jump in and play games with us, like Jackbox, and Dauntless.

The Gaymer Pups
How do you find being out and proud streamers?

Hachi: It’s definitely its own niche that’s for sure. We try to stay on the right side of the Terms of Service and COPPA regulations, so no risky stuff here. Unfortunately we cannot wear our pup hoods because of those restrictions. We work with what we can, and while I definitely would say our stream is definitely gay leaning its also something that we try to keep as open as possible to those who may not be queer and just want to see some guys play games.

Cruze: I feel in regards to our stream, it’s not been so much as limiting, as it’s been a beacon for other gaymers to join in with us. Like a safe haven. We have lots of other Non-binary and trans followers that join us and feel super comfortable being themselves on our page, as well as people from several of the sub demographics of the LGBTQIA+ Community. 

What’s the mission of your streaming?

Cruze: I’m not a top tier player in any game, and I’ve never been good as a speedrunner, but I’ll play games, give heart-filled responses to them and their stories and characters and some sassy commentary here and there that I feel gives lots of value.

Hachi: I’ve always wanted to create a safe space wherever I go. So my mission for the stream is to be as open and genuine as possible. Be welcoming, and approachable. Engaging and entertaining. Allowing someone to feel like they’re amongst their peers and hopefully not feel alone.

Cruze: I like to hope that our viewers feel comfortable watching and coming to play with us knowing they don’t have to be experts. I think I’m a “filthy casual” all the way and that’s kinda where I want to keep it. I want people to want to jump in for a good time and just watch us play around and have fun. They can be new, they can ask questions, and know that we’re in the same boat.

Hachi: We’ve had several people reach out to us and tell us that they feel at home on our channel. I think that right there is a success. We even have our own Discord channel in which I had to kind of motivate to engage in conversations, but they seem to create a support group on their own and now it’s just nice to see everyone helping each other out when I can’t.

The Gaymer Pups
You also both self identify as bears and pups, why do you think there is a strong crossover between bears, pups and gaming? 

Cruze: So for me both of those identities came first before I hit it off in the gaymer community. Over the last years as we’ve gone to cons, there’s been pups and bears everywhere

Hachi: You know how they always say bears are either DJs or Computer guys? While I would hate to promote a stereotype, I kinda have to say it comes with a territory. Maybe because it’s something that my generation and younger have grown up with.

Cruze: We keep finding most of us in the community have spent so much time growing up gaming in some form or another, and as we got into adulthood, the bear community being so body positive towards a lot of geekier individuals, and the entire basis of pup play being roleplay, they just meshed well with gaming.

Hachi: We are surrounded by technology and entertainment at our fingertips and video games of all shapes and sizes. So I wouldn’t say its a crossover as much that it’s now this acceptable form of media that just is part of generations posts the 90s.

You’re hosting a gaming meet up at the North American Bear Weekend this coming weekend, what gave you the idea to do this?

Hachi: Honestly this was all Cruze’s idea. 

Cruze: Last couple cons we went to, I think PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia last year, specifically had a big gaming library.

Hachi: We’re always finding something to do with others, we enjoy being with people and sharing with people what we like

Cruze: Hachi and I have such a large collection of board games. We remembered last year at NAB people walking around with board games in hand asking if people wanted to play. So we asked the producer Adam if he’d be up for us making a space just for that. This year is a big test run for us, but we’ve already received lots of really great reception from the NAB crowd that’s anticipating this space where they can come and relax a bit. Hopefully, it can grow and maybe be more spread out through the day with more volunteers next year.

What are challenges are there being LGBTQ and a gamer?

Hachi: The gamers. (Laughs)

Cruze: I think overall the gaming community is progressive, and generally in chats and at cons, it’s accepting. You’ll see pronoun badges for people like me, who are non-binary, where we can list our pronouns. When we get into Reddit boards, or open chats with people outside the general community, that’s where it can become far more difficult. The slurs, language and overall disrespect is still very strong in these spaces.

Hachi: I generally frown upon people who use being queer as some kind of insults. Though honestly, I do enjoy trolling those kind of people.

Cruze: Adding in our “pup” identity I feel like many people come and see us merely out of intrigue, almost like a circus. We’re part of the queer tourism, and we’re providing them a type of entertainment that isn’t respecting of us.

Hachi: It’s great that not only are there female gamers out there coming out and demanding to be recognized in the last 10 years, we also have queer gamers and personalities that are doing the same.

What more do you think the industry could be doing to make video games more welcoming for LGBTQ people?

Cruze: I think one of the things that is still slowly building is representation. Getting queer characters that don’t just get killed as part of the story.

Hachi: I think representation matters. Just like Hollywood media today, queer people are usually caricatures of stereotypes, sidekicks, or villains. However we’re definitely making advancements in that fields where queer characters are being introduced at the forefront.

Cruze: Hachi and I were both excited about making our characters in Epic Game’s Dauntless, because they had an option to be genderless. Instead you can create your character to be as close as you want to be represented. I’m excited to see more people to become accepting of trans/nonbinary issues when it comes to characters and moving away from tokenization. Also just seeing that respect carried over from streamers and followers in likeminded channels. 

Hachi: We’re seeing lots of progress for gay, bisexual, and lesbian story development. Last of Us 2 has a lead character who was revealed to have a girlfriend. While they didn’t outright say Ellie was a lesbian, I think leaving it open and treating it as just an every day thing is the step in the right direction. Being queer is normal, queer people can be heroes, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal in-game. However, for me, it’s a huge deal. Representation matters!

Cruze: I really wanna see a push in story development beyond the cliche of LGBT suffering. I wanna see proud LGBT heroism, LGBT exceptionalism and just kinda push past these boundaries of what are exceptions. I think working towards correcting lots of the binary and even reviewing some more complex poly relationship dynamics would help our queer community a lot so that they see themselves, and see the many possibilities they may never even have known of. Just like books, video games can be a form of escapism of sorts, and they can present us with problems, and situations that we may never have actually thought about, and for some of those problems we may need solutions for so we don’t feel trapped or alone when we finally reach them. Push that type of story writing. Be bold for us, and for our community. 

What was the one game that defined your childhoods?

Hachi: I would have to say, and I’m sure this game does not get enough credit, its Final Fantasy 8 by Squaresoft, which is now Square Enix. Without trying to spoil the game, as it has been recently remade and ported to systems in the last couple months, I felt the story focused a lot on the chosen family. These were friends, colleagues, teachers who all knew each other and remained strong with their bonds through thick and thin even when they faced challenges that would threaten that history.

Cruze: I think the biggest game that had an impact on me as a child was Pokémon, but that was because it’s how I met most of my friends, how I formed strong bonds with my little brother. I spent a lot of my time collecting Pokémon cards and playing the original games on the Gameboy. Then followed all the  games that came after. I’ve never missed a Pokémon game and I don’t think I could ever miss one moving forward. That world was just so lucid for me and my friends growing up. We’d pretend Pokémon were real, we’d make little figures and balls, and run around the playground. I have just so many happy and pleasant memories from Pokémon. 

What are you both currently playing away from your stream?

Hachi: I’m currently playing Bastion. It’s a nice indie game that I picked up on the Switch. I don’t play it on stream because I usually put a lot of my story progress and interests and share it with people that I don’t often get to have alone time with my games. This one is my little personal story. It’s been out for quite a while and has a spiritual sequel Transistor so I’m sure people have already seen this game.

Cruze: My current guilty pleasure that my stream hasn’t got to see me play yet is Atelier Riza, and I can’t stop playing it. I had never touched the series before until a couple weeks ago and I had no clue it had such a long history with amazing reviews. The story has been so good with super complex issues and character development, and the fighting and alchemy mechanics are just fun. It’s like the first time you played Skyrim and you got stuck just running to every bush picking herbs and flowers. Atelier is that to an extreme, a giant scavenger hunt for components to make better weapons and gear and reinforce it, on top of fixing the town’s problems, and coming into adulthood. It’s such a good game and I want to buy the triple pack they released two years ago for the Switch next. 

What does the future hold for The Gaymer Pups?

Cruze: Well at the moment we’re trying hard to up the quality of our streams, we want viewers to enjoy it, and that work is really all credited to Hachi, he’s amazing at tech stuff.

Hachi: Well, as I mentioned earlier. I’m hoping we get to push for phase two and get the board game portion of our stream going. We are definitely investing in the equipment for that and we have some great Tabletop RPG settings that we would love to share.

Cruze: We hope to start streaming some of our board game adventures, I think that’s something I’d like to introduce more people to. We’re also trying to expand our social media more with events, and get into events for people to have a safe, comfortable place to come make friends and relax.

Hachi: We currently have nearly 500 followers, and while that may seem small compared to other big named streamers, we are EXTREMELY thankful for anyone who wants to come along this journey with us.

Cruze: That’s very much what the gaymer pups are here for, we are here to play games and be your friends. Awoo!

How can our readers keep up with you?

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The Gaymer Pups

All photos by Zach Bellman @campybearphoto on Instagram. The Gaymer Pups logo is by @smallsrabbit on Twitter.

Robin Gray

[He/Him] Robin is the Founder of Gayming Magazine. He's on a mission to fly the LGBTQ flag proudly over the video games world and drive forward authentic representation in the industry, in the press and in the games we love.