One of the cornerstones of cons has always been the opportunity to meet the stars from our favorite tv show, movie, and comic franchises. Nerd fandoms have this surreal connection with these actors and writers that have always struck me as different compared to that of music lovers or those who keep up with the Kardashians. As we discussed in our Celebrity Deaths Matter episode, the actors and writers in our fictional worlds are a part of the childhoods that shaped us to be who we are today. Some have shaped us at a much deeper level than anything ever could.
I remember meeting Felicia Day at BlizzCon when I was younger. The experience blew me away. Here was the woman that I had seen in my favorite web series, The Guild, and web musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and she is high fiving me because we both played warlocks in World of Warcraft. Even if she never remembers that moment again, it is something that has stuck with me as my favorite con memories. Even as an adult, meeting people like Alan Tudyk, Austin St. John, and Sean Schemmel at cons has been an amazing experience. Just shooting the breeze, if only for a second, with the people who were essentially your childhood is amazing. With the rise content creators on YouTube and Twitch over the last decade, people are having opportunities for those kinds of experiences with a new genre of celebrities in nerd fandoms.
At PAX East 2018, my wife Stefani and I had our first experience meeting our favorite streamers. Over the last five years or so, watching Twitch has become part of our routine. Whether it’s been to get tips and tricks on creating cosplays or just to watch our favorite stream-teams play games together, Twitch has given us a connection with someone on the other side of the screen with its chat functions and streamer interaction. Since many of the streamers we watch are on the west coast or in Texas, we thought there was no way we would run into any of them at PAX East. Boy were we wrong.
The first streamer we ran into was @Amouranth. She is a variety streamer from Texas who Stefani watches for cosplay tips and ASMR. As she usually does, she was streaming on the con floor and we recognized her. She wasn’t there for any special reason other than to enjoy the convention. We would see her many more times at after-parties and the con floor, just enjoying her long trip from Texas just like we were.
The next day while browsing the Twitch channels in an Uber on the way to the con, we saw @KaraCorvus, a professional cosplayer from California, was already on the con floor live streaming at a booth. Kara was the streamer that helped Stefani through her first cosplay and was just chilling like any con-goer. After meeting her and thanking her for all the help, which I am sure she has no recollection of, we went about our day, happy to at least meet someone who made such a difference in our lives with her platform.
He let us know that the other members of the team had made the trip from California were doing the same, just enjoying the convention and chatting with fans if they found them. So much like we did with Kara, we jumped on Twitch, found where they were streaming and met
@Lilypichu, @Fedmyster, and @Pokimanelol as well.
Looking back at the experience, every streamer we met and every picture we took felt like we were just chatting with everyday people. This was very different than the star struck feeling I felt meeting Sean Schemmel – who is basically the voice of my childhood. In some surreal way, I felt as if I was meeting friends that I have known for years. I think a lot of this has to do with the hours of watching these streamers build their channels, interact with their chat, create inside jokes with their followers, and just around be themselves. In a world where we glorify the actors and writers of our favorite fandoms, wait in lines hours long, and pay hundreds of dollars for photo-ops, Twitch streamers and YouTube content creators exist in this middle ground between celebrity and Average Joe.
While we may only see Mark Hamill in movies or the voice of our favorite villains for a few hours at a time, we spend hundreds of unique hours with our favorite content creators. This creates a bond unlike nothing that I have experienced. Perhaps it is seeing them as they really are and not a character portrayal in a movie. Perhaps it is the chat functions that allow us to speak directly to them and not hoping they respond to our @ on Twitter. Or maybe it is just the feeling of knowing that their celebrity is obtainable through our content creating channels. Whatever it is, I urge you to take the opportunity to meet your favorite content creators, big or small. Show them your appreciation and tell them how their content has affected your life. Most importantly, don’t be dick!