We’re starting something new. . .
To kick off this new interview series we reached out to a fellow follower from our Instagram, Jay Arrington (@jayarrington). During his indie dev journey, he ended up finding his true passion and heart’s fulfillment in a different realm of the gaming industry — Twitch streaming! And he has been growing his audience ever since.
Jay took some time with us to talk about how if you FOCUS your passions in the RIGHT AREAS of your life that it could potentially unlock some amazing opportunities! He also shares a few tips on what to expect when it comes to reaching out to streamers about your indie game… Enjoy!
IGU: Hey, Jay! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. So, let’s dive right in! Mind telling our readers who you are, your twitch user name, and what games you usually like play?
JAY: Hi, I’m Jay Arrington and I sit in front of a camera and play video games. A.K.A – a Twitch streamer. My twitch user name is the same as my real name, Jay Arrington. I used my own name because I was taking too long to come up with [something that I knew] would stick with me forever. Dwelling on these kinds of things can lead to procrastination, so I said: “bump it, I already have a name”, then preceded to type my real name. The rest was history, so to speak.
For the first few weeks, I was going game to game trying to find what I could call a “home” — a community that I could move into and produce content for. It was a long couple of weeks, filled with minimal viewers, but that didn’t stop me. I knew what I wanted and kept looking. Only through patience was my struggle rewarded.
I decided to try a little game called Shadowverse
It was still pretty new and I would hear a little bit about it from time to time. Even my brother knew about it, and he didn’t keep up with gaming that much. I tried the game for about 10 minutes, then went back to pondering about a “home”. Around that time, one of the bigger streamers for Shadowverse raided my channel. I had 80 viewers checking me out and teaching me how to play the
game that I would soon spend hundreds of hours on.
IGU: Do you schedule out what games you’re going to play when, or do you kind of just wing it and go off how you’re feeling?
JAY: A schedule is very important. In my experience, it’s best to be known for one game and then give your viewers a heads up when you’re thinking about playing something different.
Right now, I stream Shadowverse on weekdays and then weekends are completely mine to do as I please on my stream. Anyone getting started on Twitch should focus on finding [a specific] game that they can call home.
IGU: When we first started interacting with you on Instagram, you were working on an indie game. Tell us a little bit about what you were working on and what inspired you to want to make games?
JAY: The game that I was working on when I started taking development seriously, was a Noir Themed Adventure game. My brother and I thought that we had found the perfect project. Little did we know, that we were once again being to ambitious. This tends to happen to us, often. Eventually we scrapped it, and chalked it up as a learning experience.
In that time we spent on the project, we had grown so much and did things that we didn’t even know we could. For the first time, we worked in perfect harmony and created small “tech demos” of what our skills could do, combined. It’s funny, because when my brother and I were younger, creating “video games” in MS paint, we would have never imagined that we could actually make a playable piece of work. Maybe it was that drive that lead us to create video games now.
IGU: When did you first start streaming for Twitch? It seems to be going really well for you, and it seems to fit you so well! What made you switch from indie development to streaming? Or are you still pursuing your game on the side?
JAY: I started streaming on Twitch sometime during December, because I felt like my life was missing something.
I have been in love with the idea of being in front of a camera since I was a kid. My original dream was to become a film maker or actor, little did I know that life had other plans. 2015, I skipped the “opportunity” to go to film school and instead taught myself how to code. This is how I really dived into game development. But even with all the code and game design, I still felt like something was missing: The camera. That, was the one thing that I couldn’t run away from.
I still had all the love in the world for it, so in my mind, I thought that would be the better thing to do. I then started to make little videos about my time as a game developer. Just adding that little addition to my life made a huge difference! I was able to combine two things that I loved, but I still wanted more. It wasn’t until one really rough night in my life, that I realized I needed to make a drastic change.
A few days after that dark night, I stood in the middle of my room and took inventory on everything that I owned, after about 20 minutes it became clear, from that day, I knew who I had to become… The Batman, Or a Twitch streamer. I couldn’t pick between the two, so I flipped a coin, pretty safe to say, you know the winner. This choice was very ideal for my life, being a developer that plays games in front of an audience helps to bring a lot of insight on what people like or don’t like about certain games. I turn around and use that same feedback and critique when I develop my own projects.
IGU: Do you play any indie titles on your stream? What kind of indie titles (if applicable) have you seen OTHER Twitchers stream?
JAY: No, I have no. Not yet, anyway.
I’ve been approached by some developers to play their game on stream. But, I felt like I wouldn’t get many views playing a game that no one knew. Which isn’t a win for either party. In place of that, I have come up with an idea to do an indie spotlight on my YouTube channel, so I can show off my videos of the gameplay to a bigger audience. This way, anyone can see their great game at any time.
I do know of a few people that stream indie games from time to time, but I don’t know any of them personally. All I know is that they stream obscure indie games, from time to time, with their already large audiences.
IGU: Do you recommend other indie devs play games on a regular basis to help with inspiration?
JAY: Absolutely! Before streaming, I wasn’t really playing games as much. It wasn’t until adding Twitch to my life that I went back to playing games for hours! Introducing gaming back into my day to day has sparked so much creativity in my mind. You really get a chance to learn a game and see how a small change in it’s design can make a huge difference in the game overall.
The best thing to do, is to see how creative mechanics can get. Developers are always adding small twists to classic mechanics and creating something totally different. That’s something that I’m going to keep in mind in the future.
You don’t need to come up with something totally new and original to stand out. Simply modifying the way a player shoots enemies can help to create a whole new take on a genre.
IGU: What kind of advice would you give to your fellow developers about submitting their games to Youtubers and Twitchers? Are any of them usually open to testing/playing indie games?
JAY: The first thing to take into account is that the life of a streamer can be busy and not very flexible. A lot of them have jobs and only get a few hours out of the week to stream. Which means that this is the only time to play the game that they love. So, if they decide not to play your game, don’t take it personal, they want to grow and enjoy themselves.
The other problem is, that their audiences might not want to see anything else! If the streamer is a Destiny streamer, then them playing a completely different game might turn off their audience. [There’s] a balance that has be taken into account, but that shouldn’t be the reason that you don’t ask.
The best streamers to ask are those that play a variety of games. They are appropriately titled: “Variety” streamers. Those guys and gals are your best bet of getting your game streamed, this advice applies the same for YouTube.
IGU: What opportunities have opened up for you ever since you started streaming? Is this something you could see yourself doing professionally, or are you wanting to keep it as a hobby?
JAY: Ever since I started streaming, my life has gone nothing but uphill! Now, all the things that I used to do for free are putting cash in my, once empty, PayPal account!
My first paid game dev gig came from putting myself out there more as a streamer and developer. My second opportunity, was being able to write video game articles for a popular gaming site. In a nutshell, I’m now able to build a little income off of the things that I love doing. Streaming, alone, has made me $600 and some change. Which is more than all of those other jobs combined!
I can see streaming become more than a hobby. If streaming professionally means that I can hang out with my fans all the time, then I’d definitely go professional.
IGU: Have you run into any challenges in your pursuit of becoming a Twitch member? What lesson did you learn, if you did have any challenges?
JAY: Everyday is a new challenge. Something new to learn: working with new people and creating daily content for the viewers enjoyment. The biggest challenge, is trying to balance a social life, working and sleep –Two of which had to go. Friends became too time consuming, emotions got in the way of work, and sleeping stopped on its own.
Now, it’s just me and my task for the day. I heard a quote once that, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else”. This choice of life isn’t glorious, but it’s the life that fits me best. The real challenge is making it all pay off in the end.
IGU: And we will always end every interview with this: Our mantra at Indie Game U is “Always Remember Your WHY” — tell us your “WHY”, Jay, and what gets you out of bed in the morning!
JAY: My “why” is to show people that it’s possible. We can do more than just live a boring life.Growing up, all I was told in school was “go college and get a good job”. The problem with that is I don’t like being told what to do. So, I skipped college and decided to make money on my own to prove that that presented way of living isn’t the only way of living. Many people have been telling me how I’ve changed their mindset and THAT is what I live for! The only thing that can make me happier is that they go do something about it.