PAT PILCHER has a natter with three hot Kiwi Twitch stars who give us some really cool tips.
If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard about Twitch. For the rest of us, Twitch is a streaming platform aimed at gamers, run by Twitch, an Amazon subsidiary. Twitch is also hugely popular, with a whopping 15 million people from around the world using it on a daily basis.
One thing that most people probably don’t realise is that three Kiwis (and a cat!) have become bigger than huge Twitch stars in their own right, clocking up millions of followers. I caught up with these twitchy mega-stars, curious to see how they did it.
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The big drawcard with Twitch is games. Twitch users (erm, twitchers?) watch others playing games, and learn a thing or two about how that particular game works. Twitch users live stream their own gameplay, with titles such as Fortnite, Teamfight Tactics, League Of Legends and GTA V the most widely watched.
Huge audiences can also be quite lucrative, with the biggest Twitch star Ninja having over 11 million followers, earning an estimated US$500,000 a month!
The first twitchy star I caught up with was Broxh. He’s clocked up a whopping 1.7 million followers. He’s part gamer, and carver, specialising in whakairo – traditional M?ori carving. Broxh is one of NZ’s most successful Twitch streamers and he’s even hosted a stream with Jacinda Ardern.
Witchdoctor – What originally brought you across to Twitch?
Broxh – World Of Warcraft was the thing that pulled me over to Twitch. It was my cousin that encouraged me to start streaming Whakiro on Twitch.
Witchdoctor – Did you ever imagine that you’d get so many followers?
Broxh – Not at all. I never expected to get so many followers.
Witchdoctor – What do you reckon made you so successful on Twitch?
Broxh – The clip, the clip, the clip! There was a clip in April 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic when I was first gifted some subscriptions (subs). Personally, I don’t watch it at all, but that clip has given me the opportunity to connect with people from different walks of life. I consider them all my Twitch wh?nau (family).
Witchdoctor – Any do’s and don’ts for anyone looking to start out on Twitch?
Broxh – Don’t try and be anyone else, be yourself and stream what you are passionate about in the world
Witchdoctor – What gear (mics, cameras, software, apps etc) do you typically use with Twitch?
Broxh – I have a couple of different set-ups depending on where I am. Originally I used an old phone, a piece of string, and two nails. I used to have the phone in the carport held on by the string between two nails. After my stream started to blow up in May 2020 and I couldn’t read the chat on my little phone I knew I needed something different.
For about a year, I used a portable IRL (in real life) backpack which allowed me to stream at home but also to share different aspects of my culture with my Twitch wh?nau. Now I have two main setups. I have my gaming PC set up for when I want to stream games like World Of Warcraft or do some Grand Theft Auto roleplay. For that one, I have a PC that was kindly gifted to me by my friend PandaTV. Shortly after I had my blow-up period PandaTV’s community helped raise enough money to buy my first PC. I use a Rode NT USB and a variety of Elgato products as they sponsor me. For my carving streams which are outside, I’ve got a laptop which has a camera plugged into it.
Witchdoctor – So where to from here?
Broxh – To be honest, I’m not really one to plan too much into the future. Over the last two years, I have been living in the moment and doing my best to enjoy the wild ride. The main thing I want to do is keep growing!
Kim is part of a two-player team, thanks to Jax, her sweet feline. She’s a Minecraft maven and grew her following after being made redundant during Covid. Kim (and Jax) now have 8.1K followers and she streams full-time, often working as a content creator for NVIDIA.
Witchdoctor – What spurred you to give Twitch a go?
Kimandjax – Well, actually I ended up streaming full-time on Twitch by circumstances completely out of my control, would you believe? Covid swept the world with a ferocity no one really anticipated. Being tucked away in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand, the effects of the pandemic took its time reaching our shores.
When Covid-19 reached Aotearoa, the Government stepped up and enforced a harsh national lockdown. One comment our Prime Minister made which we heard but overlooked at the time, was “Sacrifices will have to be made if we are to make it through this”. I do recall working from home during this time, but mainly playing the game Subnautica and eating way too many carbohydrates.
After five years of employment, the company I worked for was forced to restructure under duress. When New Zealand was allowed to roam free, relatively unrestricted and wear “real pants” without elastic waistbands outside of the house, my role was made redundant (in May 2020).
There was no point in disputing this (much like trying to fit into clothes that you’d worn two months prior) so I allowed myself to “Kim Kardashian ugly cry” for two whole days. But this time I played the PC game Don’t Starve because Subnautica had gotten too hard for me.
Living with three male friends, they all stood around me clueless, as I snotted and blubbered on the sofa, two looking to each other for any clue what to do with the unconsolable female expressing “feelings” while the third checked tomorrow’s weather forecast.
One boy tentatively raised his hand and shared a half-baked, incomplete brain fart, “wHy DoN’t YoU sTrEaM fUlL tImE, kImMy?” And here we are! Was everything okay in the end? Yeah, for the most part. I still can’t fit my favourite skinny jeans though.
Witchdoctor – That’s pretty darned cool! I have to ask though, they say never work with kids or animals, but Jax seems to have been a huge hit, did you need to do anything special to train Jax into feline megastar status?
Kimandjax – Ah the irony. Has anyone ever actually trained a cat?
Little Jackie was the very last kitten left at the end of a long workday in a corner pet store of a North Dunedin vet back in 2003. They say we don’t choose our pets, they choose us and this has never been more true. She was meant to be mine and Jax joined me that day! It snowed that evening and the little snot took off out the front door too! Chaos on four legs from the beginning.
Embarrassing email addresses were the theme of the early noughties and now that I was a “grown up with a cat” and realising very quickly that applying for jobs with a dated, not-even-remotely-funny address was bad for employment prospects, /kimandjax was born! This hybrid name followed me through all my PlayStation days, Sims characters that all met untimely deaths, Xbox gamertags, PSP profiles and eventually onto PC and my beloved Minecraft.
Jax was my constant companion for 15 years, a pain in my backside and the ‘bestest catto’ ever until she didn’t need me anymore and decided I’d be okay without her in 2017. She continues to live on in my username across all platforms
Witchdoctor – You’re streaming full-time, how is that going?
Kimandjax – If you’d told me three years ago I’d be sat in a converted bedroom in the core of my house gaming all day, learning Xero and my obligations to the government, building Minecraft commissions, getting a numb bum from 15-hour day in a seat and being fully self-sustaining – I’d have looked at you as if you had three heads and 20 eyes. So yeah – all gravy! Loving it and loving the challenge!
Witchdoctor – What advice would you have for anyone else looking to make a living from Twitch?
Kimandjax – Don’t be scared to say ‘yes’! I’d honestly say from the heart of my bottom, give the impossible a try. Doors close around you for a reason, and sometimes you won’t know the reason why until ages later. And by the time you’ve managed to get past the pain of those closed doors and lost opportunities, you’re already on a new path whether by choice or necessity so the ‘why’ no longer matters and the future is where you’re looking. You’re stronger than you think you are, but please get an accountant or bookkeeper ASAP because they’re superheroes!
Witchdoctor – What is working with NVIDIA like?
Kimandjax – What an epic bunch of humans! They’re so passionate about the company and how RTX can enhance Minecraft it’s contagious!
The first time working for NVIDIA was an opportunity that came up the literally same week I was made redundant. This was the push that made me think “Kimmy, you can so do this!” And I did! Might have cried a few times trying to make my first major commission perfect, and may have (allegedly) spilt the last beer in the house on my keyboard rendering it a sticky, dysfunctional slab. But they loved the Burj Khalifa and the Kingdom Tower builds so much that they asked me to do a third commission and build an o-for-awesome adventure map!
Witchdoctor – What plans do you have for the future?
Kimandjax – Twitch has opened so many new and exciting doors for me. I’ve done a billion things I never thought I’d do, and what a ride it’s been so far! Who knew I could be a noisy introvert from a wee resort town in Central Otago, representing Aotearoa on an international platform? Not me, or my Mum for that matter. But here we are. During this time, I’ve travelled as far as the UK, I’m about to tour America, attend TwitchCon San Diego and meet so many Twitch content creators and ‘Kimmunity’ members, solidifying friendships formed over the internet. I’ve learned how to be a small business owner during a pandemic and a technical recession. I even found Mr Kimandjax – the lid to my teapot – through Twitch. See? Doors open and doors close. Take the chance – not trying is worse than trying and discovering you like the unknown.
Granny isn’t your typical grandmother – She’s crazy for horror games. She moved to NZ from New York City in 2019 and took up a full-time career in gaming. The move has paid off handsomely, as she’s gone from 31,500 followers in 2020 to just shy of a whopping 95,000 followers this year.
Witchdoctor – How’d you start out on Twitch?
Granny – I was streaming Red Dead Redemption 2 (Cowboy Sports Game) directly from my Playstation! Lovely wee vaseline lens camera and a bonny quilt behind me to really make my woolly hair pop.
Witchdoctor – 95,000 followers! Nice work! What do you credit with this incredible growth?
Granny – I truly believe it’s been that I love what I do and have loved it right since the start. When I meet other like-minded Twitch watchers and creators, I see how infectious a passionate person can be. People who are very interested in things are very interesting to me. Maybe the grandkids just love watching me suffer through game-setting menus for half an hour every time we try a new video game.
Witchdoctor – What made you move from NY to NZ to start gaming?
Granny – I wanted a nice quiet place to really focus on learning how to use a typewriter on the internet properly. I’m also incredibly loud, and the sheep tend not to complain.
Witchdoctor – What is your favourite horror game and why?
Granny: Outlast. It was the first horror game I ever played on stream with the Grandkids, and it brings back so many nostalgic memories I wish I wouldn’t have.
Witchdoctor – What gear (mics, cameras, software, apps etc) do you typically use with Twitch?
Granny – Oh hell, let me get my napkin. Let’s see here: “Logitech Moose. Razor-type board. Shure Thing SMB microphone. LGBT monitor. GO! XLR! Stream Duck. Rotary phone (for emergencies).
Witchdoctor – Do you have any tips for Twitch beginners?
Granny – Absolutely! My top three tips are:
1) Focus on learning the ropes of streaming first and just get started with whatever you want to do, rather than spending a lot of money on expensive gear. If you’re going to purchase anything first, get a lovely microphone – sound is so important, often people just like to listen to your stream while doing other things.
2) Make a schedule that works for you and your community, and stick to it.
3) Most valuable of all, find what it is that is naturally unique and memorable about you, then work it into everything you do.
Witchdoctor – What’s next for you?
Granny – Next up is New York! I’m still looking for a skyscraper with perfect roof space for the hobbit house. We’re working with the pigeons over there right now to scope it out. They struggle with the Zoom calls.