In continuation of our streamer interview news series, we took a moment to talk to community streamer, Brittleknee, to find out more about what her streaming life is like and more behind the scenes info!
Hi Brittleknee, thank you for taking part in the interview! Please introduce yourself.Hi, Bex! Thanks for having me. I’m so excited! My name is Liz, but for the most part I tend to stick to Brittle onstream/ingame. I grew up in Florida and still currently reside here. I've been playing video games for most of my life, though I grew up on Quake, Doom, Unreal, CS:S, SK etc, rather than consoles. These days I’m enjoying the Path of Exile life immensely. I’m only about 7.2k hours in, which is still a baby in some circles, but this game has been my ‘home’ for a few years now, and I’m still just as passionate about the game as ever.
When did you first start streaming? How did you get into it?Though there were a few odd streams prior, I started consistently streaming in July of 2018, so we're coming up on two years already, which is hard to believe! I was encouraged by a friend to start streaming as a way to reconnect to the world and ended up enjoying it far more than I anticipated. What started as a challenge to prove to them I wasn’t a total hermit and still had mild social skills quickly turned into a very endearing road back to some semblance of normalcy for me in the aftermath of what was a very trying time.
When did you first get into Path of Exile?I first started playing Path of Exile in 2013, but my free time for hobbies were pretty sparse then. I returned to Harbinger League to see what had changed in the meantime. After getting a little too intense in the Mythic+ scene in WoW, I needed something that was content-dense, but approachable in my own time. Path of Exile seemed like the perfect fit. There was heaps to learn, it had build decisions that felt meaningful, and that skill tree, my goodness.
What can people expect from your stream and schedule?When visiting the stream, you can expect an inclusive and encouraging community, full of helpful and friendly folks. It's a really chill, laid-back place. I've done my best to be more of a custodian to my community, rather than its focus. I stream Monday through Friday in the mornings, from 8am EST until 2pm EST. It's great for NA exiles on the morning grind, EU exiles settling in for a cozy afternoon, and if you can't sleep in the Oceanic/AUS/NZ time zones, it's a quiet place to rest your thoughts. On Saturdays we run a ‘Community Day,’ inspired by group drops from MWO, where we all queue up and play together. We'll do Pure Breachstones, Blighted Maps, Legion Battles and more. Last league we were able to help over 250 exiles with their 5-slot map device unlocks through a concentrated community effort.
What do you think the most important elements are when it comes to building a community?Consistency and approachability, I’d say. Consistency can be everything from the times you stream to how you conduct yourself during the stream itself. How you handle new players can also have a larger overall implication for the community as well, and that doesn’t mean stopping everything to answer every single question a newer player may have. There are people who will try to use you as a replacement for Google, but there’s value in recognizing and cultivating players who are hungry for the game, and connecting them to the resources they need. Knowing how to properly facilitate and moderate discussion goes a long way, too. People are certainly allowed to have their own opinions but keeping discussion productive and constructive can help unite the community even if they don’t see eye to eye on certain issues.
What would you most like to see for the Path of Exile Racing community in the future?I think the future of racing will require GGG to turn their focus back to racing in a big way. Over the last year my team and I have made substantial headway alongside race organizers to progress the racing scene from a casual weekend event to something thousands tune in for when hosted. We were able to push racing to be something that had value again, not only in its ability to showcase the game but also unite the larger community. The future of racing will rest on the ability to make racing more approachable, rather than exclusive. Esport teams and invitationals are a great way to showcase the best of the best, but there's currently a large divide between those who wish to get into racing, and those who are established racers. I think one of the main ways to remove the divide between these two demographics of players is to split the private league system into Racing and Longer-Term Leagues. Race leagues would have very short durations by comparison, with most being active for 6-36 hours. Integration of certain features currently in-game or in-development could expand the options available as well. Being able to create a character and wait on the coast would be immensely useful for race starts, since right now someone just counts down in a global channel. The boss ladder developed for the Awakener Event could be used alongside options where creators could select which boss the race would end at. Integration of existing mods such as Turbo/Life/Damage would still allow for additional race customization. A mid-sized community race in the current system costs over $150/1500 points and that's fairly prohibitive, especially when you're trying to crowdfund a prize pool as well as a smaller community race organizer who isn’t backed by sponsors. More people organizing and hosting races means more people racing, more people racing means more competition and more competition drives new strategies and further optimization all the way up the ladder to the very best.
How did you pick your channel name?In what is generally regarded as a bad move, I went in on a stopper that was twice my size. My knee moved, and her shin did not. My days as a left winger were effectively over. So, I have a brittle knee in real life, even after surgery. It's been my gaming handle for over 10 years now. Seemed a straightforward enough choice to use my handle.
What were you doing before you started streaming?I was a paramedic, though I still maintain all my licenses in case I wish to return to the field. The collective stress over years of public service can really put a lot of wear and tear on your person, mentally and physically. Eventually it built up and I had to make the difficult decision to leave my career and rebuild. I’m finding ways through streaming to still contribute, though, as we recently did a fundraiser for The Code Green Campaign, and raised over $4,000 to help connect First Responders to the mental health resources they need in times of crisis.
What one thing caught your attention in the beginning and what one thing kept you coming back?I remember seeing the passive tree for the first time and just being inspired by the level of customization offered. Build/character decisions had become pretty eroded in the other games I was playing at the time, and I was craving that level of complexity. The difficulty of Path of Exile was something else that drew me in, as these decisions became more meaningful as a build progressed through leveling to end-game. I liked having to look up items and look for interactions to either push damage or survivability. I’m still learning so much every day, too, and I love it. Since I came back to the game in 3.0, I haven’t stopped playing Path of Exile. I’ve played every league to its very last day.
Are there any highlights from your time playing Path of Exile that stand out in your memory?I have not made a lot of youtube content in general, but publishing the “How to Choose” video to Reddit/Youtube was very rewarding. I was absolutely terrified of how it would be received, but I thought that maybe if I could get the message to even just 100 people, I would be happy. I used to be a preceptor for paramedic students, and I put a high priority in guiding my students through the mental processes to think critically, rather than just be what is considered a “cookbook” medic. Gather as much information as you can, use the knowledge you have to categorize and group the signs and symptoms you observe/record, then rule out based on non-invasive tests available to you. The ‘How to Choose’ video was an attempt at introducing that teaching method to Path of Exile content. While there’s some things I’d change about it if I could remake it now, I think it was a good first attempt and the response to the video was very heartwarming.
Is there anything you'd like to see more of in the streaming community?I think there’s a corner of the internet for everyone. Every streamer has something unique to offer in either their playstyle, community, ideas or otherwise. I’m not sure I’d really necessarily say there’s something I wish I saw out of streamers, because everyone should make the content they’re the most comfortable/proficient at. Some are really, really good at the game. Others are really, really good at creating communities. I think despite some obvious blemishes, Path of Exile has a great community as a whole, from the streamers and content creators, to the players and viewers. A few minutes in certain other games or streams make it fairly obvious we have something special here. I just wish sometimes at the end of the day, we all would just take a deep breath and remember we’re all people and try and see across our differences and empathize a bit more. We should actively work to preserve what makes this larger community one of the best out there.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to make their own career out of streaming?Don’t compromise your brand for anything. Much like your integrity, it is something that you have sole control over. People will try to tell you what to do to be more successful and how to go about doing it, and some of this advice will even be good advice backed by numbers, logic, and reason. It's perfectly acceptable to forgo this advice to shape your community on your terms. I can’t tell you how many people told me I would only be successful if I used a webcam. Constant, steady growth on your terms and comfort level will always yield a community you are proud of and enjoy being around. People will look after you, too. Sometimes it will be hard, and you’ll struggle. You’ll want to cave in and do X like every other streamer is doing. However, when the light shines on you and you’re recognized for your consistency, work, and dedication, it is so, so much more rewarding than any metric spike. I was virtually unknown for something I dedicated a solid year of my life to quietly (racing development), and having that pay off by being invited to talk about it on Baeclast was far more rewarding to me personally than my brief time on the front page of Twitch.
Are there any up and coming streamers that you'd like to shine a spotlight on?Though not a new streamer, Sefearion is a dear friend and has been in my corner since the beginning of this journey. I don’t know where I’d be without him. Enki, the author of what is easily the most iconic Path of Exile build guide to date is streaming and deserves love for helping so many people approach the game for the first time. SuitSizeSmall remains vastly underrated for the amount of work he does for the community at large making sure the lab notes are up to date. Woolfio is another streamer/creator that I think is just brilliant in his exploration of non-meta build ideas and interactions. Others I would recommend are AphelionPath of Exile, Tryxt, Mairian, and Arkaynan.
What hobbies or interests do you have outside of streaming?Gardening, Cooking, Hiking, and Camping. I enjoy horticulture, and greatly treasure the ability to work with ingredients from the start to the end of their respective life cycles. I volunteer and have volunteered at a number of co-op and urban farms where I reside, and even kept bees for several establishments here, hence the Bee emotes in my channel. I also love experimenting with different food/cooking techniques, from fermentation, pickling, dry-aging and curing. As far as hiking and camping, in Florida it's a great way to connect to a lot of the natural history here, but I love hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge mountains.There’s just something about the greater area that just resonates with me. I haven’t seen much of the world, admittedly, so I’d love the opportunity to connect to the foods, ingredients, people and landscapes of new cultures and places in the future if life allows.
How has your life changed from before you were streaming until now? What role has streaming played in that transition?Having to walk away from a career in your late 20s that you thought you’d work in until you retired was devastating. It's all I had known for most of my “adult” life. When I started streaming, I had nothing. I had moved home and was helping around the house by looking after a special needs family member. I started streaming in the mornings and over time the stream was successful enough that I was able to move back out, get my own place, get my feet back under me, and start to take control of my life back step by step. I don’t know what the future holds, as I truly believe I’m a far better asset and much more productive as a part of a team than on my own, but for now streaming has shown me that my usefulness to the world did not end back in 2017, much like it felt at the time.
What is one thing you think every Path of Exile player should hear?The first hundred, even the first few hundred hours should be treated like a sandbox. Try and learn what you like as far as playstyles and skills and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you need to be right before you play, you’ll never get better at the game. Experience trumps perfection. The larger problem within the game’s overall culture right now is there is an endemic fear of being inefficient or making a mistake in what character to leaguestart, what farm to focus on, what gear to buy, etc. Everyone is afraid of these consequences to the point of frantic paranoia, and I hate seeing new players get swept up in it. Path of Exile is one of the most content-dense games out there, with the ability to specialize how you spend your time and really tailor it to your own temperament, skill level, and enjoyment. Don’t be paralyzed by the fear of failure, and don’t let others decide for you how you should enjoy the game.
Do you have any projects on the horizon you'd like to talk about?On the horizon for racing development, we’re really wanting to work in an armory-like function to the casting tool, so that during races we can display at-a-glance what a racer has equipped. From a casting standpoint this is really important because it's so difficult to keep track of everything. You may see the flash of a unique on a loot filter or watch someone ID boots and miss the mouseover, but to then go and scrape that information from a profile causes a delay in getting that information out to the viewers. There’s a lot of challenges with this idea, though we’ve largely figured out how we want to display the information. We’ve looked at how other games display gear loadouts and while it would be easy to iframe the profile page (though I think this functionality is currently prevented), we would prefer it if we could import this data directly into a predetermined format that didn’t require mouseover and hover functionality.
Thank you so much for participating in the interview! If you'd like to see more from Brittleknee, check her out on Twitter, YouTube or Twitch.
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