This month of February, we present JoeRoman, also known as Joe, a Variety Streamer from Grow uP eSports. We hope you enjoy his interview as much as we did, and we hope you can learn a little bit more about Joe, who he is outside the stream, his motivations, his fears, and his objectives.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: Hey there, I’m JoeRoman, but everybody who knows me just calls me Joe, which more than suffices. I’m a nerd, through and through, an ex-programmer turned Streamer on the platform, but also, and very proudly, I might add, a dad to a beautiful and sweet 2 year old girl! All in all, I’m just a guy who likes to develop his channel, both in chatter and comedy, alongside his community.
Q: When did you start streaming and what led you to do it?
A: My first stream was in January of 2016, although I personally consider that I started in March, since the grand total of 4 streams that took place the prior 2 months were mostly just tests and trials for testing purposes. At the time I had plenty of things working against my already existing will to stream, so it took longer than I’d wished for. I used to stream in a six and a half year old laptop, just a tad bit slow… it therefore took quite a bit of testing and configuring until I found my own setting, which allowed for a broadcast with an above average level of quality.

My motivation however, that almost seems like a story straight out of a book, so I apologize in advance for the longer description.
Years before I ever streamed, after a successful internship at a major company here in Portugal, I was offered a position, which every one in my family was expecting I’d take, however, I opted against it, due to a personal belief that I couldn’t, at all, fit in to that particular situation and working environment/culture.

If this was already quite hard back at the time, imagine then when, despite my personal Web Development business, the economic crisis started affecting this country more and more severely and the clients kept disappearing (which was natural, given that companies were fighting for their own survival and none had money to go spend on making new, yet optional, websites and services, etc.). It was a tough time for me and despite I had work on a few things here and there, I had almost no stability and the dragging of this situation led to me developing some anxiety issues, which I didn’t have before (although I was always a slightly anxious person).

I struggled with those problems for a while, I’d say that to this very day I occasionally still do in a minor manner, but it was mainly the birth of my baby daughter which brought me out of it. I had always wanted to create my very own channel, whether on YouTube or Twitch (which I knew from the old days), but I always thought I couldn’t. I don’t know whether it was uncertainty, anxiety, some lame excuse or even a legitimate one, such as thinking my Laptop wouldn’t allow me to do such things, but, with the birth of Leonor, I questioned myself multiple times on what I’d do for her, the lengths I’d go to. Despite my concerns as a father, plenty of which financial, the true main concern was that I thought I was in a ‘bad place’ in life and that there’d be some days where she’d need me to go out more, go to little children’s birthday parties, etc., and that I wouldn’t be in a capacity to be more social or put myself out there and that I’d be putting her development, as a person, at risk. Well, I couldn’t have that!

So, on a day of tremendous personal resolution, I decided that if at times I still had anxiety issues and triggers, especially putting myself out there, I was going to get through them with the greatest ‘trial by fire’ ever and start creating video content on the internet. I decided to do it on Twitch and soon enough I realized I not only loved streaming itself, as well as this was helping me break through some of my limitations bubble and out of my confort zone. Effectively, streaming, was making me a more confident person again (something which I had previously lost) and even being a better dad! In the meantime I met some other people who started to tell me I had a knack for it, and some of them, knowing this story, started believing and trusting in me a bit more, putting me in a position where I could start helping out others to overcome their own issues and problems, and deal with their struggles. I kept building, growing and nurturing my community, quite open in itself and filled with conversations.

I couldn’t have asked for a better result… we all came out better than we went in!

Q: How did you discover Grow uP?

A: That question has 2 answers since I didn’t exactly know the Grow uP Gaming association, but I knew of the ‘underworld Preachers’ clan.
When I was younger I played several online games (especially Counter-strike, but also a bit of Unreal Tournament, Quake 3 Arena, casually, and some Diablo 2), and, to an even bigger degree, I created one of the first Counter-Strike clans in Portugal, so I was very firmly nudged into the online gaming scene already when the uP clan was created. It was always an ambitious clan filled with cool people, from what I could tell. Despite later having parted from the scene, I know uP achieved quite a big level of success, over many games.

As for Grow uP Gaming as an association (and stream team), I only came to know of them when, after already being streaming for a couple of months, some of the Portuguese broadcasters I knew and hung out with regularly, mentioned the existence of the team and their desires to one day maybe joining the organization. The name sounded familiar, so after a little research on my part, I realized it was an association that came from an excellent planning and branding, molded and built from the uP clan.

I quite liked what I saw and some time after my friends joined up, I met Borba, who believed in me and the plans I had for my channel.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Q: When you started streaming, what games did you use to play? What games can we expect now?
A: My first ever stream was dedicated to the game ‘Darkest Dungeon’, since it was easier to control, due to being quite interesting (often borderline frustrating or hilarious), yet not too fast paced, which helped with my crusade to overcome my limitations with my laptop. However, I consider to have truly started my journey in the world of streaming with a small game called ‘Nuclear Throne’. In a few ways similar to Darkest Dungeon, Nuclear Throne is a pretty hard game , with ludicrous amounts of replayability, since any given run on this sort of game (roguelikes & roguelites) is drastically different from the one before it.

I grew my channel with that game, having started out with 0 people interested in watching a noob like myself play it, to getting to a point where I was one of the most popular channels for that game (at least during my time slot). Although the viewerbase has diminished somewhat nowadays, this game not only had a bigger audience in the past, it was sort of considered to be a little ‘cult-classic’ of modern times in its genre, in a similar way to ‘Binding of Isaac’, yet in a diminished capacity. That helped me build and grow my channel.
Nowadays I play a bit of everything since Variety Streaming was always the goal. However, roguelikes and roguelites are still the real core of my stream, despite me playing this genre noticeably less (or at least not exclusively).

I like interesting games, but above everything else, complexity or difficulty, so you might catch me playing those roguelites (or other games of the sort), or just trying to make my own life ‘difficult’ whilst playing simpler or more relaxed games, like, for instance, trying to establish a new World Record on Slime Rancher, an incredibly relaxing game, as far detached from difficulty or competition, as it can be. I love making a joke and a big deal out of stuff like that, stuff that doesn’t necessarily make sense or serve any purpose other than make people laugh at how ridiculous the premise is.
I also love giving the real gems one can often find in the ‘Indie’ scene, a shot, and often check out such games, as well as look into promising new or difficult titles.

As such, you can find me streaming critically acclaimed gems like ‘Stardew Valley’ on some of my relaxing days, as much as you can catch me try-harding on more serious games, for instance running Squads on PUBG with Nobruc, himself a Grow uP colleague, and TaurenBreezy.

Q: What advice can you give people who just started or are about to start streaming?
A: I’d say that the most important thing for people who are thinking on starting their own streams, is, not to make too big a deal out of it. The technical side of it is far more accessible nowadays, the software has come far (especially OBS) and there are plenty of tutorials out there to solve every and any hurdles. All it takes is installing it and trying it out. I’d recommend it to anyone who has any interest in streaming. You don’t lose anything just by trying it out!

As for advice, I believe it’s very important to acknowledge that the world of streaming is much bigger nowadays than it was in the past and the competition is huge. People need to not dive in head-first with the mindset that you’re gonna have the biggest possible success. Instead, it’s much better to focus on the essential part: achieving FUN. Even our own fun, since if you don’t have any of it while playing and streaming, you’re most certainly not going to be creating and putting out a good show, nor an inviting party atmosphere that will get the audience to have fun too!

For this reason, I highly advise playing games that will help you set your mood accordingly and get you to have fun, instead of playing overly popular games, which would just be like shooting yourself in the foot, since it’s impossible for anyone to be able to find you in the Game’s directory/listing when you still have close to no audience.
On the same wavelength, I’d recommend not peeking at your own viewer numbers in the beginning. When you don’t yet have enough experience, it’s very easy to let yourself get affected by fluctuations in the audience numbers (whether positive or negative) and to alter your broadcasting style even if it wasn’t your intention. That’s something that’s not at all positive. What you’ll always want is to make sure that the few people who give us and our channel that initial chance, feel that we’re treating, addressing and engaging with them in a relevant manner. The important thing is to always be able to lead the stream towards the acknowledgement and appreciation of the people who are there in that moment! Focusing on who IS NOT there, will never forth any advantage.

And above everything else, you’ve got to believe. If this is something you’d like to take seriously, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s a pretty uncertain field and that there might be times where you’re up, as well as other where you’re down. The important thing is believing in yourself, the work you’re putting in and that by continuing to do the best you can and keeping up the right mindset, eventually you’ll get to the level you desire. Best of luck 🙂
Q: In your opinion, what are the strengths of your stream?
A: I consider the strongest point of my stream to be, how close I am with my community and my audience in general. I’m pretty receptive and open to dialogue on my stream and we regularly have lengthy and interesting conversations. These range from common, to hilarious all the way down to insightful. This goes to meet what I believe to be the second strongest feature in my stream: honesty & realism.

I very much like to keep a positive and optimistic attitude, just as I mentioned previously when it came to advice, however you can’t live in a ‘pink unicorns and rainbows’ world all the time. At times, you’ve got to be realistic and poignant when it comes to life’s circumstances and dealing with them, especially whilst explaining this to people. Occasionally that happens when the audience puts fort questions that are more existential or situational, especially about the Streaming activity as a field and career-choice or life-experiences in general (especially when it comes to the more Responsible subjects, like transitioning into adulthood and responsibilities), where a more in-depth and sincere approach is required.

This can have it’s good moments, but can also occasionally have a negative impact on the few people that might not yet be used to the honesty, or those who might just have been looking for a stream to relax with after a long work-day, not so they could ponder on the meaning of, or tough questions in, life. All said and done, I’m quite proud of the community I’ve created and nurtured. Not only regarding how much fun we have, but also given what we’re brave enough to approach and discuss.

Q: What fulfills you as a streamer?
A: What most satisfies me is my community and watching it grow as I nurture it. Seeing it be more inclusive than ever, and take in a lot more people who yearned for a place where they could feel like themselves. Some place where they can hang out and relax after a particularly long or complicated day, laughing out loud, but where they could also feel at home to speak out about any situation they might be going through, or debate interesting ideas without feeling judged or dismissed!

I love meeting new people, seeing how hesitant they can be, reluctant, putting their foot in the water alongside most of my core audience, yet figuring out, a step at a time, that they can be identify with this space which welcomes them with open arms, and the people in it. It’s a little cliché, I know, but it’s 100% the truth. Those who might still have any question, can always stop by my channel and get to know me and the lovely people there, and get a few good laughs! 😉
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative aspects of being a streamer?
A: I’d say that there are quite a few positive aspects to it. Streaming can connect us, give us an opportunity to meet new and interesting people and activities which we might’ve never discovered otherwise. It’s an amazing experience, unlike any other. At the same time, none of us who might’ve grown up a gamer, can really complain about playing video games for a living, hehe. As long as we’re able to choose the right games to keep our frame of mind, it is, without a doubt, a work that helps us keep our
gaming and creative passions intact.

However, streaming also has its negative points. Those who deem it something simple, where all you’ve got to do is press a few buttons, speak into a microphone and maybe look into a camera, for about 4 hours… they’re kidding themselves.
Work hours are insane and the activity itself can be highly draining, mentally, especially for those of us who might be trying to pierce their way through onto full-time streaming as their main job and their career. It’s not uncommon for me to work 13-14h on a given day and that leaves me very little, if any, time for other personal activities, considering I also have a family.

Physical Health is another complicated thing since it’s very hard to find the time to keep up good rates of physical activities and exercising, plus this job itself consists on spending a fairly large amount of hours sitting in front of a screen, which isn’t particularly good for your eyesight, your concentration, and much less so for keeping fit, good posture and maintaining muscle health.

When it comes to Psychological Health, it’s even a trickier subject, since with a highly errating and uncertain line of work, comes anxiety. This will of course depend on the psychological strength and resilience of each streamer, but it’s easy to see how, with adult responsibilities such as rent, utility bills (mostly power & internet bills, since these two can be especially high for streamer, depending on their work ethic and setup), operating costs and the few extraordinary costs related to streaming, it’s often complicated to stare a ‘hard month’ in the face, where there’s less financial support, and take it lightly as if it was nothing at all. One can often find themselves questioning the likelihood of the same situation happening on the next month.
You’ve got to know how to fear, as well as how to self-motivate and work yourself in order to overcome said concerns, in a healthy way, which isn’t always an easy thing to do.

In summary, it’s an incredibly passionate and uniquely amazing line of work, however often comprised of extremely long hours, highly draining and considerably stressful at times. It requires you to keep an eye out, plan and compensate for the negatives, working to keep the right attitude and both the physical and mental health in check.

Q: What are the medium to long term objectives you have for your stream?
A: My goal for my stream is to carry on working, with plenty of commitment to it, but also with a positive attitude and loads of fun. I believe that is the right path so I can achieve my goal of one day reaching 500 subs, maybe even more. You’ve got to dream big! So long as you work far and hard to meet such ambitions, right? 🙂

At the moment, I have quite a few plans for the stream that are starting to come into motion, including the addition of new emotes (and the replacement of a few old ones), along with, very soon, the addition of more and better rewards for Subscribing (which will include a minimum of one monthly sub-giveaway and sub-exclusive activities, such as voting for, and playing on, multiplayer days, along with future playthroughs) and a revamp/rebranding of some of the channel artwork and overlays. I can also gift you with some first-hand knowledge that we’ll have some new full playthroughs of games long-awaited by my community, such as Dark Souls 2 for example, DS3, Nier and The Witcher, starting as soon as the end of February or beginning of March.

I also intend on putting into place the 2 distinct show segments, long discussed on my channel, however with no set date as of yet, so soon-ish but not for the next month or so. These are sort of a tribute to my subscribers and supporters, since they’re something they’ve wanted and asked for somewhat regularly. I think they just want to laugh out loud for a bit, either with me, or at me, hehe. 🙂

These will then be composed by one segment which consists of 1 to 2 monthly Cooking Streams (where I absolutely suck, so it will be a series that follows me as I delve a bit seriously into learning how to cook and will have a little bit of focus on the very interesting and amazing Portuguese gastronomy) and another, more technical, segment within 1 to 2 monthly streams focused on my field of expertise (Computer Sciences and Programming), where the goal is to give back something of me to the community, who I will help to learn how to code and most of the examples will be based on and guided towards a perspective about Tools related to Twitch and Streaming as a whole and how to improve the branding of channels using dynamic widgets. We will create such dynamic widgets, similar to, for example, the minimalistic overlay I coded for my good friend PsychoBunny and this will all be done with ideas provided by the audience, so we can see what the impact of the project’s outcome is and what can be improved on.
Q: Where else on the Internet can we find you?
A: Well, aside from Twitch, the ideal thing is to follow me on Twitter @joecroman, which is where you can regularly find me goofing around, and where I’ll provide you with news, extra giveaways, notify you upon going Live, etc.
To see my additional content, from the biggest noob plays, to the highlight reels, going through retro-game playthroughs or my input on Streaming news and such, it’s best you look into my YouTube channel.
This one, especially, will be seeing a big change in the upcoming months, together with the news I have planned for the stream. Stay sharp and be on the lookout, since I’ll have unique, distinct opportunities, both on Twitter and on YouTube.
First of all, we would like to thank Joe, for his time, and for exposing himself to all of you. We want to say again we really enjoyed his interview, and even us, that follow Joe for a long time, got to know a lot more about him.