Today’s Creator Spotlight is with Twitch streamer Rizorty, who hails from the Midwest US of A and tends to favor strategy and simulation games. We love the quality production, commentary and wit, not to mention his sharp attire to match! You can Follow his stream here, or on Twitter here. But first, read on to hear more from this PhD turned streamer!
Tell us about your handle and its origin.
My username, Rizorty, came about through graduate school goofiness. During the period when I was writing my dissertation, on the American philosopher Richard Rorty, I was out one night with friends. After a few drinks, we started talking about “gangsta” linguistic transformations such as the shift from “for sure” to “fo’ shizzle.” It was a quick step to “Rizichard Rizorty,” the most gangsta of all philosophers. I found this name hilarious, and it sprang to mind when I was making my Twitch account.
When did you start streaming, and what prompted you?
I’ve been streaming since August of 2015. After graduate school, I moved for work to a new city far away from all of my family and friends. I was tremendously lonely, but because the job was only going to last for one year, I didn’t want to make new local friends. I realized that online friends would be able to follow me wherever I went next, so I thought about various internet avenues for friendship. I’ve always had gaming as a hobby, so Twitch seemed like a natural fit.
Congrats on getting your PhD! What do you do in your full time? Are you still working in academia?
Between 2015 and 2017, I was a professor of philosophy and political theory, all on temporary contracts. Last year, the academic market was unkind, so I took a year out of the game and instead paid the bills by playing games. My Twitch community has been unbelievably supportive, both emotionally and financially, in my year out of academia. In the fall, I’ll be returning to a professorship, but I’ll also continue streaming. Teaching and streaming are my two loves, and I’m glad to be able to do both.
When not working, I jog, read, and play with my cats. It’s a life.
Have you always been a gamer, and what games do you enjoy most?
Yes, I had a Commodore 64 in my childhood house, and I vibrantly remember playing Zork and a game in which one carried out the feats of the Homeric heroes and the Olympians.
I mostly stream strategy and simulation games, because my viewers seem to enjoy seeing me think through problems and describe my plans for resolving them. For streaming, I like games that allow me to tell a story through my choices, to develop a narrative beyond the game’s intended / determined arc.
It seems you put some thought into your online persona and brand – or is that simply just you being you?
Generally speaking, it’s just me. I’m a nerdy guy who likes kindness, thoughtfulness, and wordplay. For my casts, I wear a blazer and tie. I actually dress better for casting than for teaching, where I ordinarily wear jeans and a green hoodie. Dressing up for streaming has been a way to set my stream apart while also emphasizing the “professorly” aspects of my persona.
What’s your favorite piece of work by Kurt Vonnegut, and why?
This question refers to my channel’s only explicit rule, stated in a quotation from Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies–‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind’.”
Vonnegut’s wit and skill at narrative framing is enviable. I’m especially a fan of Cat’s Cradle; it’s the best work out there to start thinking about the relationship between technology and free will.
Vonnegut also has so many great one-liners, for instance one that I include on all of my Introduction to Philosophy syllabuses: “Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?’”
What do you normally play when offline, if anything?
Off-stream, I play a fair bit of League of Legends. While its reputation for toxicity is well-earned, there’s a good deal of complexity and strategic decision making. That said, I try not to game too much when I’m not streaming, so that I don’t get burnt out on gaming.
What’s the one piece of advice that you take to heart, and repeat for all other aspiring broadcasters?
After you have your streaming rig put together and all of the technical issues ironed out, consistency is the most important factor for growth. “Consistency,” however, has a lot of facets. You will do best in terms of growth if you show up on generally the same nights at generally the same times playing generally the same type of games while having generally the same attitude and channel vibe.
Though it may not seem so from the viewer perspective, streaming can be hard work for very little reward, especially at first. In my first two weeks of streaming, no one came by. I spent four hours talking to myself for a few months before I had a few regulars. What propelled me in those days, and what might propel you too, is the belief that I was growing something worthwhile. And growth, as we see in people and plants, takes time.
What’s the one trend on Twitch that you see impacting streamers big and small, or changing how all of us interact with the games we play?
I’m especially fascinated by the way in which some developers are now incorporating Twitch integration in their games. For example, Defiant Development’s excellent Hand of Fate 2 allows streamers to poll viewers for what decision should be made at key moments throughout the game, and viewers are also able to use Twitch chat to “gift” items to the streamer, though sometimes these gifts are health penalties!
No matter what size a stream is, baked-in Twitch interaction features allow viewers to go beyond passive participation and have a further stake in the game and the cast. And that’s good for everybody involved.
How did you come across Woovit?
I asked Harebrained Schemes for a Steam key for their new BattleTech. They directed me to Woovit, and I was amazed at the variety of games freely available for content creators.
How would you recommend other content creators like yourself use Woovit? Any advice?
Woovit allows creators to link up with developers. That’s good for both the content creators and the developers. The best way to use Woovit is to keep an eye on new games, especially ones from indie studios that may not have a lot of money for advertisement and marketing. Playing these games on your stream can help you to find new viewers, because the games won’t be played by tons of other casters.
Beyond that, Woovit allows content creators to try out games, to see what works for them and for their communities. Any site that helps with the experimental side of casting is greatly needed and valuable.