One Tuesday this past December I was sitting at my desk at work trying to make myself begin a boring and repetitive task. An update had dropped that day for the game I play the most, Sea of Thieves, but since I couldn’t get away with gaming at work the next best thing was to watch someone else playing it. I turned to Twitch. It was too early in the day for the big-name streamers I followed to be live, so I needed an alternative, and almost at random I jumped into a channel run by a man calling himself ‘KrazeyHazey’. In doing so I soon realized that I’d stumbled across a uniquely entertaining streamer with a loyal, growing community.
KrazeyHazey, or Hazey as he is typically called, is a U.K.-based variety streamer. When I joined his stream that day, he was of course playing Sea of Thieves, sailing a sloop with his IRL friend, Verbium. While I went about my work Hazey and Verbium kept me entertained as much by their gameplay as by their banter. At one point Hazey slipped effortlessly into an excellent impression of Gollum; at another he was channeling Jack Sparrow. Oh, and did I mention that he was wearing a pirate hat? The guy was just clearly enjoying himself. Long before the stream had ended, I’d hit that follow button.
Two days later I was again at my desk when I got a notification that KrazeyHazey was going live. Because he’s based in England, his evening stream launches line up with my lunchtime, so on this day I was able to be a little more active in chat. Hazey and Verbium were back on the Sea of Thieves, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I found myself wanting to know a bit more about this engaging streamer, and because his community was then still fairly small – under 200 followers – he was willing and able to reply to just about any question put to him in chat.
Hazey said that he’d run a Karaoke night at his local pub for several years. There he’d been dubbed KrazeyHazey and the name had stuck. He’d named his Twitch community ‘The Fold’ out of his love for Origami, and one of his emotes was an Origami crane. In fact he was so new that his channel had just two emote slots. He’d been streaming for not even six months at that point, but you wouldn’t know it from his affable presence; unlike some newcomers to Twitch, he seemed to have a knack for playing while keeping an eye on chat and responding to viewers by name. I couldn’t stay for the entire stream, but I found myself looking forward to his next one.
Before the month was over, Hazey had reached his stream goal of 200 followers. He celebrated by throwing a stream party for The Fold. Practically speaking you can’t share slices of cake or shots of rum with chat, so Hazey had to take those responsibilities on himself, which he did until well into the early hours of the morning. The Fold community didn’t seem to feel left out; it responded by enthusiastically giving enough subs for the channel to unlock emote slots 3 and 4. One of these new emotes was a Sea of Thieves gunpowder keg stamped with an Origami crane. Hazey had also added a bot and tied it to the emote so that when the keg was dropped in chat the bot would play the explosion sound from the game.
— KrazeyHazey (@KrazeyHazey) May 5, 2020
Hazey had also begun to find creative uses for channel points. For example, viewers could request his now-famous Gollum impression (he later realized that he’d set the cost far too low and was in danger of losing his voice after many redemptions in one stream.) For more points, he’d design a custom ‘wanted’ poster for a viewer in a style similar to the Order of Souls bounties from Sea of Thieves. He mysteriously announced in discord two new channel rewards that turned out to be cosplay-related, “be Batman” and “be Baymax”. And there was “Gollum Karaoke” where he’d let the viewer select a song from Twitch Sings to be performed as Gollum. Slowly but surely KrazeyHazey’s channel was becoming a unique corner of Twitch.
I caught up with Hazey a few months later, shortly after his follower count had doubled to more than 400, and he agreed to chat with me outside of the stream. I started by asking him about how he got into streaming. “For me, it’s all about creating that community. Also, it kind of linked in with my work a little bit. I know that sometimes people can feel lonely… it’s really nice to have space where you can go to and have a bit of a laugh.”
I asked him to reflect on some of his best moments while streaming. He replied that he liked “overcoming specific challenges. If I was at home by myself, playing a game off-stream, I would have probably said, ‘I’ll leave that challenge for another time.’ But on stream, I’m going to see how it goes, see how the community reacts to it.” As usual, though, Hazey was still thinking about his community as he continued, “and reaching goals together. Getting the emote slots has been amazing. A year ago, I thought about streaming [and I thought] it would be nice to get *one* emote on twitch, but a year later, the community is now celebrating five emotes. And that’s amazing.”
When the conversation turned to some of the technical aspects of his stream, he spoke of his friend, Verbium. “We’ve known each other for about 11-12 years, we’re really good friends outside of streaming. He’s very technically minded… he actually built my PC for me last June.” Hazey describes Verbium as being “kind of like my stream partner, but while I do like to play single-player games, if I’m going to play a multiplayer game on stream, it’s Verbium, he’s my go-to teammate. He’s my brother.”
As far as his goals for the future, Hazey demurred. “I’m always focused on the here and now, never really wanting to look forward. But in terms of long term goals, I’m kind of just keeping that at a realistic level.” He did, however, offer a teaser about one of his goals: “I’d like to implement more redemptions. I’ve got some ideas that I’d like to keep close to my chest because I want to share them as a big surprise.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be an article on developing a stream community if I didn’t ask Hazey for some advice for anyone who might be looking to grow or even just to begin streaming. He had this to say: “Be yourself… don’t try to be any other streamer. Start with basics, get the audio and the video setup, and then anyone can think about the other stuff, the channel points, the commands.” He also spoke a bit about his own philosophy. “I make it a huge commitment to not look at viewer count. It’s not helpful; engage with who’s there, that’s the most important thing. Ultimately, have fun and play what you want to play!” Which is exactly what I find him doing every time I watch his stream.
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