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Streamer Spotlight: Biggus Bennus

The sheer creativity of Animal Crossing players is still astounding months after the game’s release. But streamer and Rainbow Arcade member Biggus Bennus has taken things to a new level with his game shows.

Deal Or No Deal. Blind Date. Come Isle With Me. These are just some of the shows he’s recreated on his island and regularly plays with viewers, cultivating a growing and supportive community of friendly gamers.

It’s not all Animal Crossing though – Ben is also a big fan of story games and multiplayer games as he interacts with viewers. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of his dog, Atticus…

When and why did you start streaming?

I started in January 2017 properly. I was very lucky that I got a bit of money, decided I wanted to stream, and finally pushed the boat out and got my first ever gaming PC. Within the first day of me setting it up I got my first stream going!

I’ve always enjoyed broadcasting stuff. When I was a teenager I set up this thing with Winamp where you could create your own little radio shows and friends could tune in and listen. And I’m a very social person. To be honest one of the main reasons is I lived in Spain for a few years and I wanted a set of friends who were with me wherever I was, wherever they were, so we could stay in contact and chat on a daily or weekly basis. And streaming was it, because I love video games, I love chatting to people, and it felt like the perfect mix.

What games do you prefer to stream? 

Well until March this year I played everything! I think I started out playing PUBG, maybe then switched to Fortnite and Destiny. Any big game that comes out I’ll play and I’ll stream it. But then Animal Crossing came out! People were telling me “are you going to play Animal Crossing?” and I joked “no I’m never going to play that game, it looks so boring”. And then somebody really kindly gifted me the game – he just sent me a donation and said “get Animal Crossing, you’ll love it”. And he wasn’t wrong! Pretty much since then, 90% of my streams have been playing Animal Crossing.

What makes your stream unique? What can people expect?

Lots of interactivity. I talk to the chat constantly, I even got myself a new monitor the other day that’s exclusively for the chat so I always have an eye on it. Not just that, but I like to include games that involve other people. I’m really lucky there are people that want to join in with the game. For example, if I’m doing a game show – which is one thing I do – there are lots of people who want to take part in that, or if I’m in a mood to visit and get inspiration from other people’s islands, there’s always people there that want me to visit their island and get the chat to give them ideas. I like to have 100% interactivity with the chat, through the game.

So it’s as much about the community as it is playing games?

Oh definitely. On a Sunday I play a story-based game and it’s great, but it’s interesting to see how slow the chat moves then because people are sitting back and watching, but during Animal Crossing I’m always goofing around! 

You’re something of a pro Animal Crossing player then! How many hours are you now?

Today I hit 900 hours! This is the first Animal Crossing I’ve played. Before I had no interest in it, I really didn’t know what to expect from it. I’ve pretty much spent the whole of quarantine playing. It was the right game at the right time!

How do you keep you and your community so active?

It’s something I ask myself quite often. About a week or two ago I was getting to the point where I go into the game, see if I’ve got any DIYs and do the daily stuff, and I was thinking what else do I do now? And I saw Mike Cheb – he’s the guy who created channel points for Twitch – I saw he had some channel points for Pokémon that were really interactive. And I thought I could do that with Animal Crossing. One was ‘visit your island’, I thought let’s make it so I can come visit you and you use the channel points, it means [viewers] stick around and chat. There’s also another channel points redemption where I’ll come over and – with very little talent(!) – draw a picture of their favourite villager on their noticeboard. I even bought Brain Training so I could use a stylus, but it didn’t improve the quality! One of the things I’m proud of are the game shows I’ve incorporated into Animal Crossing. So we have things like Blind Date, Deal or No Deal, Family Feud/Family Fortunes. And the Roast too! 

Why do you think Animal Crossing is so popular with LGBT players in particular?

I think it’s the creativity, the amount of creativity you can have. It’s also a game that’s very open for people to be whoever they want to be. It doesn’t ask if you’re male or female, you just choose your style. You can wear whatever clothes you want, change whatever facial features or hair style you want and be exactly who you are. Which is something a lot of us can’t.

You have a particularly British sense of humour with your use of music and memes, where does that stem from?

It’s dirty! [laughs] I think that’s just my humour, I am British and I like a lot of in-jokes and I’ve always had a dry sense of humour and I like to play on that a bit. The reason I have quite a lot of Monty Python is because my username is BiggusBennus. I thought I’d go along with it as I do like very dry humour. My stream’s family-friendly but it’s the family-friendly where you might notice the odd innuendo in there which hopefully younger people won’t get!

How do you find being an out LGBT streamer? 

I’ve got to say I’m lucky. I really don’t get any homophobic trolls. I do wonder sometimes when someone comes in and asks “are you LGBT?” you never know whether they’re going to react with something really offensive or if they’re just inquiring because they see the tag on Twitch. I know a lot of fellow Rainbow Arcade members and LGBT streamers are not as lucky as me. It’s something that I just naturally talk about in chat. A lot of the people who find my channel find it through the LGBT tag, so there are people who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community who will be looking for people who identify as that to follow. And I’ve got to know so many people through that. 

Is Twitch supportive of the LGBT+ community in your view?

I would say yes, though they’ve definitely made missteps. When I’ve reported trolls for any homophobia the account’s gone pretty quickly, but there’s always more that they can do. I think being able to respond to harassment a lot faster than they do would be a great help, as I know of people who have suffered it and have waited quite a while for it to be sorted out.

Why is streaming becoming so popular?

It’s definitely become more popular because of the lockdown. I saw some stats that went from February to March and it said March had nearly 50% more streamers and people watching, so it really has jumped because of this. Streams are great to have on in the background, especially if it’s something as chilled as Animal Crossing. If you’ve got a stream up in the background, it’s comforting, it’s like having a friend there you can talk to, or there are people that you see every day. Obviously you have your IRL friends, but there’s this group of friends you have online that you can talk to every day and see how they are. It’s like an extra friend group. And that’s another reason I think it’s so popular with the LGBT community. Not everyone is lucky enough to have an accepting family or friend group. Often it’s a lot easier to come out and be who you are anonymously or as part of an online community. 

What’s the best thing about being a streamer?

I would 100% say the interaction. I’ve been at home because of the quarantine since March and have literally seen one friend since then in person. But I’m not really missing social interaction because of Twitch, because every day I talk to however many people throughout the day and interact with them, be it through voice chat because we’re playing together or just in the Twitch chat. I get my fill of socializing that way.

What advice would you give to gaymers wanting to start streaming?

Don’t do it for money, that’s always the first one! I’ve never made enough from Twitch that I could leave a job. If you are streaming, do your very best to watch streams. If you’re a streamer but you don’t watch others, you’re not going to learn or get ideas or make friends with other streamers and everybody benefits if you’re friends with others. Networking sounds so transactional, but you’ve got to really make friends on Twitch. Make friends and they will come to you. Other things that worked for me were consistency (at least I do try and start on time…), and it’s hard to be popular and grow your numbers if you’re changing games quite a lot. I’ve got a really wonderful community playing Animal Crossing but if on a Sunday I switch to FFVII Remake half the people disappear.

What’s the game that defined your childhood/got you into gaming?

It wasn’t really a game, it was a console: the PlayStation. I remember it was back in ‘97, I’d always wanted a video game console. I remember going supermarket shopping with my mum and there was this PlayStation magazine I was looking at, it had the demo disc and Crash Bandicoot on the front. I was flicking through it going “this is amazing!” and my mum said to put it in the trolley and that would never happen normally! Little did I know that my parents were getting me a PlayStation for Christmas (this was in late November). When it was Christmas Day we opened all our presents and my Dad said “oh you should check the post”. There was this letter there, and my dad had made a treasure hunt to go all around the house. And at the end of the treasure hunt was the PlayStation and I was so excited, so happy and overwhelmed…I was sick!

What’s your game of the year so far?

It would be really easy for me to say Animal Crossing! But I am absolutely loving FFVII Remake. I played the game for three hours and then immediately went online and bought the eight CD soundtrack. I haven’t even listened to it yet, it’s just a really pretty case! But the music in that game is just phenomenal, the game is phenomenal. I’m blown away by it!

To find out more about Ben, catch him streaming on his Twitch channel.

Don’t forget you can vote for your Streamer Of The Year at the Gayming Mag Awards right here!

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