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Chorna’s Journal – 2021.07.20📔✍️

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I feel so utterly lucky to be a mum.

It has been almost 2 years already and I still look at Gabriel, our son, and feel absolutely baffled by how much I love him, and how unbelievably grateful I feel to have him in my life. I know Aidan feels the same way; I see it in the moments between kisses, hugs and tickles, in the way he will steal a look at any number of Gabriel’s pictures he’s got saved on his desktop (yes, Aidan, I notice, lol).

Gabriel has augmented me as a human being. I’ve grown from being a petulant child, an arrogant adult, a humbled partner and spouse, to an awe-struck parent. He’s awakened in me realisations about what my parents must have gone through to care for me, and made me realise how utterly impossible it was for me before becoming a parent myself to understand the depths of the love they feel for me. So basically, not only has Gabriel awoken in me a kind of love I had no idea existed, but he’s given me the means to realise how much I’ve been already loved, and still am by my own parents.

It’s really quite overwhelming sometimes. But in a wonderful way.

Earlier this evening, as I watched our son enjoying his toys on our lounge floor, I gently stroked my post-pregnancy softened belly and mused on how this energetic, adorably cheerful little child had once been floating around inside me. He’d been physically a part of my anotomy – a weird concept, I know – and yet completely his own little person, with his own routines, reactions and responses to things. And now he was out there – in front of my very eyes – doing the things little people, little toddlers do.

… I know. The musings of a mother is not everyone’s cup of tea. Nor really is it of any importance or relavence to anyone else how I feel about our child or my experience of pregnancy. But it’s important to me, because it is part of who I am, how I experience every day, and so it also informs every decision I make – not just as a parent, and a wife, but as a streamer and content creator as well.

* * *

This month, Aidan and I hit our 5th year anniversary of leaving London, and moving to the comparitive nowhere-ness of the southeast coast of England. A lot has happened in those 5 years. Put bluntly, it’s been traumatic, and has taken a real toll on both of us, moreso Aidan I’d argue. These last 5 years have been the most difficult we’ve ever faced together, putting our relationship to the test in ways I would never wish on anyone else.

Thankfully… we’re coming out of this phase in our lives like weary sailors who’ve weathered a stormy sea. The relief is only that we’re still in one piece, that the ship we made together continues to float. But we’re still wet from the storm, and it will take some time for everything to dry out – if ever – because we’re still at sea, after all…

Analogies to one side though, Aidan and I talk a lot about why we are still streaming. Just as we’ve hit a significant anniversary in our personal lives this month, next month we’ll be hitting our 4th year anniversary as streamers and content creators together. The reasons aren’t really that complex, and I think many of the Pixels can relate with them.

About a week ago, I had the sincere pleasure of spending time with an old colleague of mine – Christine – and I don’t remember how or why, but I ended up telling her why Aidan and I have been continuing our efforts with PixelGum. A few things came to mind, and the conversation really crystalised things for me.

Aidan and I are creative people. We’re also extremely similar in the core beliefs and ethics that we hold dear. These things meant that when we were working in the city, putting our energies into making corporate ambitions come true, we had become extremely unhappy over time, because the energy we used to make business goals come alive came at the dire expense of our own creative ambitions.

There was a crisis of authenticity in our work, and we knew that a good paycheque or an impressive roster on our resumes wasn’t going to be what made us feel happy or fulfilled when we looked back on our lives. So even before Gabriel was born, we knew our creativity was a terrible thing to squander. And now that Gabriel’s here, it’s become absolutely imperative to us that we do something creative, together, and with the authenticity we so deeply need to express as individuals and a couple.

That’s what drove Aidan and me toward becoming streamers, and more accurately, content generators.

The road to happiness.

I sit back and read through what I’ve written above, and I realise there’s a level of arrogance that can be percieved in what I’ve said above. After all, what’s to say we’re creative anyway? Or any good? I think if working in the city taught me anything, it’s that confidence can carry anyone a certain distance, but after a while people can see through that.

Some people are fine with that – and I want to point out how sociopathic that is. But hey, that’s the world we’ve chosen to live in, and well, eventually, one of two things will happen: those people will lose interest, or they’ll literally get taken out by someone else.

I think the dream most content creators have is to skyrocket with fantastic numbers of subscribers and become Partnered on Twitch, earning enough to live on for what’s percieved to be very little work. But as Aidan rightfully pointed out during one of our streams, the reality is each Twitch channel would need to have 8,000 subscribers a month (since right now Twitch takes 50% of subscriptions) to be anywhere near that kind of reality.

It’s quite a double edged sword, really. If you want to make money on Twitch, you have to dedicate A LOT before you ever get any kind of return. This includes a ton of your time when you’re not even streaming. Self marketing, market research, networking, editing, analysis, community management, technical upgrades, and that’s not even including things such as honing your gaming skills if you’re aiming to play at any particularly good level. Oh, and of course, streaming.

It’s a huge ask. And considering most of us have to pay the bills somehow (and be fed, housed, pay for medical care etc), we’ll be doing that in between, before or after our jobs and other responsibilities such as oh, I don’t know, raising a family and being alive.

Is being “passionate for gaming” really enough of a reason to do this? As Aidan said before, also, the ladders for success on digital platforms have well and truly been lifted, making it extremely difficult for people who are just starting out to reach anywhere near the levels of success that seem prevalent on social media.

Aidan and I ask ourselves because we know one day our son will ask us: why did we continue to do content generation on the days we made no revenue, or the days nobody showed up to watch us, or want to stream on the days we couldn’t. As with any question we ask ourselves, we are brutally honest in response.

We do it because making stuff makes us happy. And we hope that in doing so, our son will choose to live his life doing what makes him happy, too.

About the Author

Chorna once enjoyed a successful career in the gaming industry in various roles - from marketing and community management, to game designer. She continues to write delicious bits of text you've consumed from various brands but never knew it.

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