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WoWAug 10, 2022 2:00 pm CT

We sat down with professional streamer TouchpadWarrior to talk World of Warcraft, Twitch, and community

Streaming World of Warcraft is something that has become a big business. Just look at the events like the Race to World First and you’ll see just how many people will tune in to watch people play WoW. It’s no surprise that getting into streaming now can be seen as a lucrative career path for many young people. It’s easy to look at the thousands of viewers top streamers have show up each day and decide that’s what you want to do — and you can! Just don’t expect an easy route to success. It does require a lot of hard work, and won’t be something that happens overnight.

I had the chance to speak to a professional WoW streamer who happens to be my former Guild Master, William Justus Henderson III, better known as TouchpadWarrior. He’s been streaming WoW for over six years and has seen his audience grow steadily the whole time — no mean feat these days! We talked about everything from how he views the game, his main focuses, and what it took for him to be able to go full-time as a Twitch streamer. 

Cory: So Warcraft streaming has not been the big thing on Twitch in a while, aside from events like the Race to World First. How do you stay focused on Warcraft as your main game?

TouchpadWarrior: As long as I’ve been streaming, the only hype times there’s really been would be when the expansion launches for like the first week, and that’s it.

I think the major driving factor, I would say, would be community and friendship. So friends, keep me logged in. Not like they’re bullying me and texting me and calling me by blowing up my phone, being like, hey, you better get on. We’re doing a dungeon – but more so that when I log in, I always have somebody to play with. So that’s always nice. 

Then having a vast community of different folks to play with makes it so you don’t have burnout from like playing with the same people over and over and over again.

Cory: What kind of content do you build your streams around?

TouchpadWarrior: I actually do everything in the game. So it’s an MMORPG, so vast game, right? There are many different things like the high tier or PVP like raiding, Mythic plus, or Arenas. There are also pet battles. It could be amusing sometimes. There’s transmog collecting. There’s mount collecting, go collect some battle pets, go run an old raid just for like the nostalgic sense of doing it. So I always try to do like the other optional activities because I find those entertaining.

So more so I have like a seasonal kind of route, not like I plan to pick it like it’s up, it’s springtime. I guess it’s now for the next three months it’s transmog farming, but more so that I’ll feel the personal burnout towards one category of the game. Like typically whenever I push for Keystone Master, that’s when I have burnout from Keystones. Okay, that was ten in a week, I know there’s folks out there doing 40 to 80 and whatnot — which is not my personal cup of tea because things can get heated sometimes between different players like missing interrupts or whatever. So, I tend to get burnout right after Keystone Master.

But I like raiding with you again. I haven’t had burnout from raiding. Surprisingly, I’m actually still enjoying it, but eventually, that’ll hit like a wall. I’m like, okay, I’ve had the point of diminishing returns. No longer fun. Let’s jump ship on something else. Let’s go tinker with this one.

I’m not going to push myself to do it. And I think that’s ultimately what keeps me going, is that. I actually like experiencing most of every type of content there is in the game. And then ultimately when things got really dull, that’s when I go back to my garrison and try to get those two mounts. I’m still missing. So if you ever catch the stream and I’m doing garrison invasions, that’s when, you know, we’re scraping the barrel for a little bit until I want to do some more PVE or PVP Content.

Cory: You mentioned collecting mounts and how that’s a big thing for you, where did that come from?

TouchpadWarrior: It was just when I quit raiding and it was late into BFA, it was right before Ny’alotha came out. And that was when I decided I was like, You know what? raiding is not for me anymore. After, like, ten, 12 years. I think I’m kind of over this routine. And so I was like, wait, what do I do with these 6 hours? I had a lot of raid time that I had every week available.

I felt like kind of free, but I also didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

One day, I was like, well, you know what? I want to want to have that Heavenly Onyx Cloud Serpent mount, and so I was like, okay, one in 2500 chance. What are the odds?

I know some folks as I was streaming that, would claim they had like 5,000 to 6000 kills. Shoot, somebody the other night – had 6,000 to 8000 attempts on it, and they got it. While I was streaming and they were blasting up in all caps in the chat. They were so excited! They’re like, I’m shaking. I was like, Dude, post that to the discord, rock that you got it — And they were so happy.

That’s a cool thing to strive for, and I was looking at my collection because I’ve always liked mounts. I’ve always enjoyed them. I liked collecting them, whatever rare task, hard achievement, etc… Then I looked at my number, I was like like 520 and like, how much would it take to get to 600? Like, let’s see how feasible that is.

Because I knew there roughly were that many in the game at the time. I was like, How feasible is it to get to that number? And it went through my mount list and I was like, Okay, that’s actually just like a 1% drop from there, that’s just a collection thing. Then I tallied everything in my head. I didn’t make a spreadsheet, and I said, I think that’s actually possible for me to do. So that became my drive to do so.

And in one year’s time. I actually collected 100 mounts. And I was like, Whoa, I actually can do this stuff. That’s kind of neat. So that was like the drive came from for hunting for those cool collections.

Cory: What made you want to get into streaming?

TouchpadWarrior: Honestly, I was working as a chef, and I already had, like, a lot of hours, and I had a very bad fear of not being able to spend time with friends or family because of being in the kitchen all the time. And I knew a few buddies that were already doing this thing on Twitch. I was like, I don’t know what that is, and they showed me what it did and how it goes and whatnot.

I had hopes and dreams of being able to spend time with my family and work from home and do entertainment. As time went on, it became more of providing a little bit of de-stress and relief out of folks’ days. People would pop in and go like, “Hey man, I’m so glad you’re live. This is my de-stress time where I chill out.” We share a passion for a game that we love and have a few laughs along the way.

Cory: So basically throughout the whole experience, it’s been about the community that you find in Warcraft.

TouchpadWarrior: Yeah, I mean, it’s, I believe, I believe to carry the philosophy that if you were always yourself, people like you will gravitate towards you. So I consider myself a kind of sarcastic, jovial human being, and I like to drink. So typically, if like you keep doing that and that’s kind of who you are, especially while you’re streaming it, people that also like that will resonate towards you as well. Like, I make sure to drink responsibly and say that, like, even my toast is, “I’m going to have a shot. You don’t have to. If you are a fella drinker, you’re more than welcome to drink along with me. If you’re not — drink some water, stay hydrated, drink some coffee, tea, lemonade, pickle juice.”

People that do like to drink, they’ll pop in like, oh, I know I can have a cocktail with Will — that’s kind of neat. As long as just keep being yourself, eventually people like you will gravitate towards you.

So over these years, and luckily enough, like you, because you and I met in Siege of Orgrimmar, and guess what buddy? We’re still here, still playing this damn game, and still enjoying each other’s company. Once you get along with somebody well enough in WoW, then you start to find out, hey, like you and I both like really dark ales, And we talk about those things. We both really love cooking and food. So you end up having, like, a friendship beyond just what the game is itself. And that’s what I think in turn ends up developing into a community, because then people start to recognize like, okay, hey, Will’s the chef guy who likes whiskey, Cory’s the guy that likes to post pictures of his cat and memes on discord. Like you end up finding out, who does what in the community and who to interact with, and how you can have a good time that day when you’re playing.

Cory: Is there a path to full-time streaming? Is that something that’s attainable these days or are there too many big whales out there that just mean it’s not something that is attainable?

TouchpadWarrior: It totally is. It’s entirely on your work ethic. As with any entrepreneurship type thing, it would be about how much time you dedicate to it that’s what you get out of it. Starting off, it’s really rough, but if you keep the ball rolling and keep making content and trying to make network connections, things like that. It is hopeful.

For me currently in my position, it did take six years, but I’m actually going full-time next month. It’s very nerve-wracking because my income is entirely based on people’s generosity. So a little scary, you know?

I try to try to find patterns because there’s no consistency in that revenue source. So you’ve got to try to find other ways to passively generate income on other projects while you’re working on the streaming stuff.

Cory: What would you say the biggest piece of advice you could give to somebody wanting to start streaming is?

TouchpadWarrior: The biggest, I’ll give like two or three actually because one is just never enough. Consistency is the most important thing. If you don’t have a consistent schedule, then how are people going to find you or know what you’re going to do? What are you going to do if you have no consistency in what you bring to the stage, to your show, camera, whatever it is? Then how do you set up what your branding is, who you are as a person?

Because if you decide to have a persona, not me personally, but some people do, and you change that persona every day, there’s no consistency there either. Trying to be consistent with your time and when you go live, have a schedule, and that’s the hardest thing to do because you’re creating your own world, you have to make a schedule.

That’s the most important thing, and I can say that confidently because people always warned me about it. The first couple of years it was very rocky and I had no consistency. As soon as I switched to having a consistent schedule, that’s when things started actually growing.

Cory: What would you say is your proudest moment or the moment that sticks out over the six years? What is the number one moment that sticks out to you?

TouchpadWarrior: Man number one, that’s rough because I really thought about a few moments. Obviously, hitting Twitch Partner was a huge one because after six years and 1000 to 1400 hours a year streamed for six years, that was the biggest one.

But probably there is something we did called the “Add to Beard” Night. So it was per subscriber, I would add something to my beard. For example, these little Velcro patches, because I found out these stuck to the beard really easily. And so I came up with the concept of like, okay, let’s add to beard per sub.

That night was wild because I think we had like 600 subscribers that night. And I just ended up having I ran out of patches. I did anything prepared, nothing. I sort of put in like pens, just anything I could find. I started sticking things to my hair and then my fiancée came in and she had some horns that she made from like cosplay foam.

I was wearing horns. I had sunglasses on, and just covered my face and everybody had a good laugh. It was a fun time and very eventful.

Cory: How have you kept your stream so positive, especially around Warcraft recently? Recent sentiment can be tinged with a bunch of negativity. How have you managed to keep yourself in a more positive headspace and a more positive community?

TouchpadWarrior: I make sure to educate my community, especially because I believe the energy you start in the stream is ultimately what champions the entire broadcast. So I typically shoot for about four to six hours. But whatever energy you go into, it is what carries the entire way through. So I try to start off my stream with like having a positive note towards it being kind of pumped up, but not like overly charismatic where it’s definitely not me. 

Then while the stream is happening, when people start to bring up some things that may be controversial or some kind of bad thing that happened. I try to make sure to educate folks. I’m like, hey, this is the game time. Like, we’re just playing the game. If you guys want to have the conversation, you are more than welcome to. All I ask is that you be civil, but you can keep that over Discord or in a DM. Right now we’re just focusing on the game.

If you wanted to tell me about your little achievements that you had in the day. Like, “hey, you know what? I didn’t have traffic on the way to work today.” Hell yeah, let’s celebrate that. Like, celebrate the little victories. That’s what helps promote a more positive space for your community.

So that’s why when collecting mounts, people pop in and they’re like, “Hey, I finally got this mount I’m so excited!” and I’m like hell yeah dude, and even have like a little tah-dah sound effect that I play for people when they are there to celebrate their victories as well. That’s what I think helps cultivate a more positive scene than a negative one.

Ultimately that comes up to like maybe in the core like they’re in my broadcast — I also have to champion that same effort. So it wouldn’t be really kosher of me to like show some kind of toxicity towards another player or something while I’m playing the game. That’s just not okay.

It’s not okay anywhere. But if somebody was to carry that energy and then broadcast that as well, I think that teaches people that it’s okay to behave that way.

Cory: What are you looking forward to the most in Dragonflight?

TouchpadWarrior: One of the things I’m most looking forward to in Dragonflight is the dynamic of Dragonriding through the Dragon Isles. From my Alpha testing, it feels like one of the best activities to immerse yourself into the game, and the lore, and have a whole lot of fun at the same time.

Cory: Finally, where can we find you online?

TouchpadWarrior: Where can we find me? Look for Touchpadwarrior on Twitch.tv/Touchpadwarrior, or on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. We’ve got all the things, the stuffs, and the whatnots.

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