2018 Year in Review

2018: A Year in Review

Each year tends to come and go faster than a speeding locomotive, with the Earth completing an entire rotation of 365 days in what feels like a blink of an eye, and with that, comes reminiscence and reflection and all that’s come to pass.

As 2018 comes to an end and 2019 looms around the corner, I’ve found myself recollecting all that I’ve been through this year, both good and bad. This time of reflection is usually one that I find important as it allows me to feel gratitude for all the wonder, joy and happiness that I’ve been blessed with as well as heed the lessons I’ve learnt from the challenges and difficulties I’ve faced.

The Highs

Unlike previous years, 2018 kicked off with tremendous amounts of positive accolades and experiences. First, came my surprising inclusion in the MCV Pacific Top 30 Under Thirty list, which lists the Top 30 individuals, below the age of thirty, in the Australian and New Zealand gaming industry who have contributed a significant deal to the industry. Then came my inclusion in Trade Media’s Top 50 Women in Games, an achievement that I’m incredibly proud of as encouraging more diversity and equality in any industry, particularly that of technology and gaming, is a strong passion of mine.

While being considered among some of the creme de la creme of the ANZ gaming industry was an exceptionally profound and proud experience for me, what truly was the highlight of 2018 for me was the day I became New Zealand’s first female partnered streamer on Microsoft’s Mixer platform. Being a partnered streamer had always been a goal of mine and being the first female partner was something I was wholeheartedly determined to achieve. Having spent almost every waking moment working myself to the bone, day in and day out, to better myself and improve my streams, several sacrifices were made. I won’t lie, it was tough and incredibly challenging to grind each and everyday, on top of working a full time job, attending events, writing reviews and managing the Attack On Geek social media pages as well as networking and keeping in regular contact with our community. However, all the blood, sweat and tears (and believe me there were a lot of tears) paid off the day I received my partnership letter from Mixer. Till today, I can’t convey the emotions that I felt reading over the letter of acceptance. The sheer joy of having months of hard work pay off was unlike any other.

Though, I certainly can’t take all the credit for my achievements, especially making partner on Mixer. I had a lot of support and help from some amazing members of the gaming industry as well as fellow streamers. So many in the ANZ gaming industry helped guide me through the gaming scene and the Mixer streaming teams I became a member of helped teach me the ways of being a decent content creator.

People & Friends

The Microsoft ExpertZone, Xbox Game Masters and Xbox Ambassadors team will always hold a special place in my heart. They were the crew that got me into streaming and the Game Master programme lead was the man who coached me and gave me tips on streaming when I first became a Game Master. I’ll always be forever indebted to him and the rest of the Game Masters for introducing me to the exciting world that I now regularly find myself in.

I’m also incredibly grateful to PowerUp Health, Flashpoint Gaming, Nightlife Crew, Contraband Gaming and Pixel Party, the stream teams that I’ve been a part of on Mixer, all of which helped me meet a whole host of streamers, many of whom I now call dear friends. Though many members of these teams were way above my level when it came to streaming and were all partnered streamers while I was still finding my way, so many of them took the time to not only get to know me, but also helped me identify new ways to improve myself both on and off stream. I truly made some incredible friends this past year and I attribute this primarily through Mixer, a platform that has by far, one of the best, most engaging, and familial communities that I’ve ever come across.

Events & Travel

Seeing that the world of esports was growing, especially in Australia, I decided to attend the Intel Extreme Masters in Sydney in order to get a better understanding of what esports involved and how it was shaping the world today. Attending the event as a guest of Intel was also beneficial as it gave me a new appreciation for PC gaming while allowing me to experience esports as an event that felt larger than any sporting match I’d ever been to. While the tournament and event was an incredible experience, it was the side activities that took place in conjunction with IEM that I found truly fascinating.

Not only did I get to meet and hang out with the Viva La Dirt boys, a Kiwi group who produce satirical videos that often involve showcasing the best tech, but I was also treated to an incredible experience with journalists from around the world. The team at Intel really went over and above to make the event a tremendous experience, treating us to a fantastic fancy dinner at the Sydney Opera House, followed by an interesting night on the town. The team also provided me the opportunity to build my very own gaming PC, which was a fantastic experience in itself.

Just when I thought I was done with travel for the year and experiencing all the fun and joys of gaming overseas, the incredibly amazing team at Xbox invited me to attend E3, the biggest gaming convention in the world, as their guest. I was floored. After attending E3 last year with my partner and the other half of Attack On Geek, Tom, I didn’t expect to attend the event again so soon. However, it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up especially because it meant being able to represent a brand I am truly a fangirl of and love with all my heart.

Attending E3 with Xbox was more than incredible. Not only did I get to experience some of Xbox’s upcoming titles behind the scenes, but I was also able to witness and learn more about the Xbox Adaptive Controller firsthand. Learning about the reasons behind the controller and what the controller offered to gamers everywhere was truly humbling and made me feel so grateful for what I have.

In addition to the amazing experiences with Xbox, I was also able to finally meet the fantastic Mixer and Xbox Ambassador team, many of whom I’d been friends with for some time. It was such an honour getting to meet everyone who I looked up to and have been inspired by as well as being able to hang out with so many Mixer partners, who were quick to impart sage advice and share with me their love for the platform. The time I spent with the Mixer crew only solidified my determination to become a partner myself, as well as work towards showcasing the platform as a viable alternative to Twitch and YouTube. What’s more is that being in L.A allowed me to bond a lot more with someone who quickly become a very good friend.

The journey didn’t stop there though. As E3 came to and end, I found myself back in the land down under for the annual Supanova pop culture and gaming convention, where I was thrilled to have met Stephen Amell (from TV’s Arrow) as well as Troy Baker and Nolan North, two well known video game voice actors, who voiced Joel from The Last of Us and Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series respectively. Though I was extremely excited to have been able to meet these stars, I will admit to being severely jet lagged all weekend, after my flight out of L.A was cancelled and being rushed all over to get to Sydney in time.

Now, after three trips overseas, you’d think I’d be done right? Wrong! Almost as soon as I returned from the Sydney Supanova convention, I found myself back in Sydney again for the Women in Games lunch hosted by Trade Media and Xbox ANZ. Now, unlike my other trips to Sydney, this one was a short overnight trip that was sponsored by Xbox, bless them. Though it was short, it was one heck of a lunch as it was the first time I truly found myself surrounded by powerful, strong, confident, inspiring women who worked so hard in the gaming and technology industry. It was such an honour hearing from them all and even more so hearing from Angela Hession, Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft, who also leads Microsoft’s Women in Gaming programme and spoke at length about the company’s commitment to Gaming For Everyone, a message that’s really resonated with me and something that I am extremely passionate about.

Of course, when I heard about Mixer having a presence at PAX Australia, both Tom and I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to head across the ditch to Melbourne for the annual Australian gaming convention. Once again, this was an experience unlike any other as the co-founder of Mixer and the Head of Partnerships treated us, along with the other Mixer partners and streams in attendance to one heck of a dinner at a Bavarian restaurant that truly encompassed what it meant to be in a beer hall of sorts. The fun with Mixer didn’t stop there though, as we spent a lot of time hanging out together over food and drinks throughout the course of the weekend, cementing the fact that the Mixer community truly acts like one big family, one of the major reasons why I believe Mixer is a game-changing broadcasting platform.

Forza Horizon 4 Launch

Having attended a behind the scenes look at Forza Horizon 4 at E3 and seen the McLaren Senna car on display at the Mixer booth, I was sure that there was no way Xbox could have topped my preview experience of the game. Well, I was wrong, because the week the game launched, I was picked up in a McLaren, was driven to the Microsoft office in the Auckland CBD and got to play a bit of the game wearing an amazingly comfortable Forza racing onesie! It may not sound all that cool to some but for someone who has never been inside a McLaren nor worn a proper racing onesie, it was a thrilling experience. I had so much fun, especially being able to share my adventure with other Xbox fans.

NZ’s First Xbox and Mixer Community Meet-Up

Being a huge year for us on the Xbox and Mixer front, we finally had the opportunity to bring together some of the New Zealand Xbox and Mixer community in a fun-filled meetup. Hosted at TenForward, gamers from near and far who were in the area of the Auckland Armageddon Expo, showed up to make new friends, eat good food, play Xbox games and enjoy a fun night with the rest of the community.

I, personally, was really surprised at how well the event went and just how many people showed up. It nearly brought me to tears to see people genuinely want to connect with one another and supported us enough to turn up to a location that wasn’t exactly easy to get to. It was fantastic and made me realise just how important community was to me. Not only was I so thrilled to see everyone but I was incredibly touched and driven to do much more for the community.

Xbox, of course, went over and above upon hearing about the event and offered us prizes to giveaway as thanks to our supporters. It truly was such an incredible gesture and solidified the notion that Xbox loves their community, regardless of where they are in the world.

The Downs

No year is without its challenges and boy were there several this year. Between our personal lives and Attack On Geek, there was plenty of stress all around. Working myself too hard did a number on my health both physically and mentally to the point that I suffered, and am currently still recovering, from being burnt out. My writing suffered, my sleep suffered, my friendships suffered, and almost every facet of my life suffered as a result of being so overworked and under a great deal of pressure and stress.

Though I’d suffered from some aspects of burnout before, this most recent instance of burnout was incredibly challenging and I will admit to feeling depressed and an utter failure, unable to do even the simplest of tasks at times. It made me realise just how difficult it was to find that healthy balance when juggling a full time job with a full time hobby.

Taking some time off from streaming, working on Attack On Geek and maintaining relationships with other gamers meant that a lot of the momentum that we had built had been lost, because streaming and building a channel is all about consistency. On top of that, both Tom and I decided to abandon playing Fortnite on streams due to the level of toxicity that came as a result. This, together with the time off streaming, really knocked our growth back as we lost our Fortnite regulars and essentially had to rebuild our community from scratch. On top of everything I was dealing with in my personal life, this just added to the stress. As much as it may look cool and fun from the outside, doing what I do, being a streamer and working in the games and entertainment industry isn’t all fun and games. It’s actually incredibly tough and the challenges, often, are insurmountable.

Thankfully, Tom and I, as well as Attack On Geek as a whole do have some loyal supporters, many of whom rode this long wave with us and stuck by us through thick and thin. Without them, overcoming these hurdles would have been a lot more difficult. I’ve always found that tough times truly reveal who your real friends are, and this year certainly revealed who those truly loyal and supportive people are. Just like with the brands who stuck by me through all that I’d been through, I’ll forever be grateful to the key individuals who had my back and checked in on me through my most challenging times to make sure I was okay. These folk really are the real MVPs, as they say.

Goodbye 2018 and Hello 2019

There’s a lot more that happened throughout 2018 both good and bad, but for the life of me, I’m struggling to put them into words. As a writer, this is something that frustrates me beyond belief as it’s something I’d been pursuing and honing my skills in since I was twelve years of age. The effects of burnout, you see, is that even doing something you’re good at and incredibly passionate about becomes a painful challenge. It’s debilitating and I can’t tell you how tough the effects of burnout have been for me. Nevertheless, I will end this write-up with a simple lesson that I’ve learnt over the course of the year, which is this:

Live each day as it comes. Worrying about tomorrow when today hasn’t even begun will only lead to unnecessary stress. Focus on the here and now. Be grateful for what (and who) you have and learn to breathe deeply and love freely.

That’s what I hope to do more of in 2019. To those of you who have been with me through hell and back, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The reason that I’m able to still remain sane and standing is because of all your love and support.

I hope the new year treats you all with joy, blessings, good health and prosperity. I wish you all only the very best. Love and light my friends. Happy New Year!

 

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