Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Streamer Spotlight: urbanbohemian

He’s not just the smoothest voice on Twitch; urbanbohemian has a relaxed and cosy stream where he invites us into his front room for some chilled gaming and maybe even some cooking.

He’s also passionate about charity streaming and pushing the boundaries of content creation. After all, Twitch isn’t just for gaming; it’s for socialising, tabletop RPGs, and getting hungry watching cooking streams!

Read on as we chat food, gaming and how much we miss couch co-op…

When and why did you start streaming?

I started streaming in 2016, so just shy of five years ago. I did it because I had friends who were streaming and one said “I think you’d enjoy this, it seems like it might be fun”. I’ve been doing content creation online for a long time: LiveJournal, photography, blogging, food blogging, and this seemed like one more place to do something interesting. So I said let me give it a try.

What games do you prefer to stream? 

I started off, oddly, playing Destiny. I don’t really play shooters that often, but the magical sci-fi element in the story and setting really drew me into Destiny. I tend to stream a lot of narrative RPGs. I really like games that have a story that I can talk about with chat, I can point out great moments or harmful tropes. So I really enjoy narratives.

What can people expect from your stream?

It’s a very cosy, chill space. I’m not a super hype streamer, you probably won’t find me yelling, except for one Twitch Sings stream that we will never revisit again! I stream from my couch and I tell people you’re literally in my living room, so make yourself comfortable. We make sure that it’s well known the moment people come in that I’m a black, queer content creator and I just want to make sure that people know it’s a fun, safe, inclusive space. If they’re coming in just because they want to lurk and listen to somebody with a nice voice play games that’s great, if they want to talk and vent a little bit that’s fine. I want people to be entertained and feel comfortable when they’re there.

How important is community?

It’s vital. When I started on Twitch I went into it thinking the same that everybody else did: you have to be a certain type of streamer that only plays sports games or shooters and their communities are really just their chat. I really didn’t understand it was okay to not be like that, to be comfortable and relaxed and I feel like people who have come [to my stream] appreciate it. When you curate your community it helps itself along, so you have a responsibility to curate that space and we’ve made sure that it’s inclusive. I feel like it feeds back into itself, people see how others are acting in my chat and that lets them know ‘oh okay, maybe this is a fun space I want to hang out in’.

You’re a lover of brunch! What got you into cooking? 

We grew up in the suburbs and neither of my parents had the time to be a great cook. When I left and moved out to my first apartment after college, I started experimenting with things and I’ve always loved food preparation shows, so I started writing out recipes and grabbing recipes from online. At some point I would send pictures to my mother so she knew I was eating okay! And it was a fun thing, whether I was successful with a dish or not. I have an American suburban upbringing so I wasn’t exposed to tonnes of cultures growing up and food is a way to learn about that.

And cooking helps with the cosy vibe?

It is sometimes chaotic but the only reason I don’t do more food streams is because I live alone so I would just have tonnes of leftovers! But I do enjoy those streams, they allow me to show a different side of myself. It can be a lot more interactive – people have questions about what I’m making, or about what they’ve made and we can talk about it. It’s sort of in between talk show and creative. I start talking about food and people get hungry, it’s a superpower!

So don’t come to your stream on an empty stomach!

Absolutely not!

How important is fundraising to your stream?

It’s surprised me how well it took off. People really showed up and were willing to give to a good cause. I tell anyone who wants to raise money for charity, even if you don’t think it will go well, do it because the feeling that you get – just for a selfish serotonin thing – feels really good and the people watching will surprise you. I pick things that are close to me, whether it’s LGBTQIA+ charities, charities that help families deal with childhood cancer, anything that’s focusing on trans rights and health, and over the summer we raised money for the Bail Project. It’s been very rewarding, not just for me but a lot of organizations have got a lot of money and spotlights that they wouldn’t normally get. I love the fact they are now looking to Twitch as people are hopping on to see people they’re entertained by, so why not convey some information about a good cause at the same time?

You’re also into TTRPGs, how did your interest start?

I do love my tabletop RPGs! Back in the 80s, when Dungeons & Dragons really hit in the US, I was into it then. I got out of the habit because spaces and tables weren’t that inclusive. So I left that hobby for decades and then Cypher of Tyr asked me if I wanted to join Dungeon Crossing: it was running through a simple campaign but people really enjoyed it. And she has also written a homebrew adventure called The Infernal Goose Game. I’ve played in that twice. The first time it was a virtual table of all black creators and the second was with members of Rainbow Arcade, and you could not have gotten more different ways to get through the adventure. Realizing how much the people you bring to the table lend themselves to the adventure was fantastic.

Will you bring more TTRPGs to your own stream?

It is something I’d like to do a bit more in my own stream. Wizards of the Coast has a long running show called Rivals of Waterdeep and this coming season I’m going to be a cast member! So that’s going to be a big bulk of tabletop content for me for the near future, but there will still be time to do other one-offs. 

How do you find being an out LGBT streamer? 

Mostly positive. This goes back to cultivating and curating chat – we have people who are queer themselves and if someone comes in trying to troll, it’s immediately clear we’re not going to put up with it. And yeah we’ve had racist slurs, we’ve had homophobia. It really makes it difficult sometimes to want to continue, it throws you for a loop and one thing I’ve learned is how to take that energy and keep going. It really does suck to think that you’re just out there playing a game on the internet, chatting with people, having fun and somebody thinks ‘I’m going to start problems today’. 

A lot of streamers, especially those in Rainbow Arcade, end up sharing audiences and provide a safe and inclusive space. A lot of us are just a huge middle finger to the trolls, you can try a bunch of stuff but we’re not going to put up with it. You trying to derail my stream for 30-60 secs is not going to ruin my day, I’m going to forget about you the moment you’ve left.

What’s your main goal as a streamer for the future?

Had the world not become what it is, I very likely would not be streaming as much as I do. I have a day job and I want to be able to maintain the balance between the two. I really want to keep expanding the limits of what people consider content creation on Twitch. I thought Twitch was only for games and then I did a stream where I just chatted for two hours and didn’t realise that was a thing that people would show up for. So I want to see what more I can do on the platform that is outside of the expectation of just sitting and playing games. 

What do you enjoy the most about streaming?

I enjoy having a place that I get to be my authentic self. I don’t worry on Twitch about having to hide any parts of my personality or my identity. I’m out pretty much everywhere but there are still versions of yourself that you compartmentalise that I don’t necessarily have to do on Twitch. Knowing that just being on camera and making jokes and talking about stuff helps other people even in some small way, that’s really enriching.

What have you learned about yourself through streaming?

The performer in me has evolved being on Twitch. I was always very introverted growing up. Coming out helped me come out of my shell, but the thought of doing this and turning the camera on for the first time was terrifying. I’m talking about current events, politics, the news. To have a place where you’re a black person on the internet talking about institutional racism and the pain in America and what it feels like to be you, and you have people who are willing to listen to that and not immediately contradict you or try to gaslight you or turn away. 

What’s the game that defined your childhood?

I grew up when the first home consoles were hitting, I had the Intellivision. For me it was oddly enough the sports games, which is funny because I don’t play sports games at all now. As a family we would sit around and play games, video games were a huge thing in my house. And in the arcades the game that I played more than anything else was Gauntlet, you could play it alone or you could play it with three other people, it was no longer just my friends playing and I have to watch and wait until they’re done. That’s a big reason now why I love multiplayer games. 

It’s a shame now so many multiplayer games are online, I miss couch co-op!

So do I! It’s great in the world we find ourselves in now where everyone is online, but I would love to have a nice game of Mario Kart with a friend on the couch trying to nudge each other and pretend we’re not doing it. I really miss being able to have a gaming party. We did LAN parties back in the day and even that was everybody trucking your tower and your monitor to hook up to a LAN party and then take back home with you!

What are you looking forward to most this year?

I’ve not yet played the new Miles Morales Spider-Man, I’ve watched some people play it and it looks amazing, plus they make the experience of Miles very unique. I’m also one of the worst Twitch streamers, because of my job I can’t always keep up with what’s released! I’ve just heard there’s an RPG based on Werewolf: The Apocalypse I’m super looking forward to. There’s one everyone’s waiting for, Boyfriend Dungeon. I cannot wait to get in and play and date my attractive weapons! It’s got a little bit of something for everyone!

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

Streamer Spotlight is a weekly column from Ed Nightingale about highlighting LGBT+ streamers who are creating communities that are diverse and progressive.

Ed Nightingale

[He/Him] Ed is a London-based blogger and freelance writer, covering music, film, theatre, games and lifestyle. A lover of culture, he can usually be found in front of the silver screen or a laptop - if you can play it, watch it, or sing it then he’s probably got an opinion about it.