Zach “Hammurabae” is a streamer by craft but a raconteur at heart. He started his Twitch stream to explore storytelling through a mixture of role playing and multiplayer video games, using characters and nations as vehicles into creating game-driven shared narratives. Through this pursuit, he’s created a gaming community open to all centered primarily on the video game Hearts of Iron IV. You can find his playthroughs on Twitch and his community on Discord.
This episode Mike and Hammurabae talk about the unique community he’s built through his streaming on Twitch and the content he’s created on YouTube. Regularly running games with as many as 90 players on strategy games with an emphasis on roleplay, Hammurabae breaks down how he uses his staff of nearly 50 to help facilitate games and organize the community. Hammurabae explains why he thinks learning vital skills like communication, editing, and filming are vital to creating the best content possible. They also discuss consistency in scheduling, how to ask for help and resources when you’re just starting streaming or creating content, the effects of obsessing over viewership on mental health, and more. Check the links below to watch more of Hammurabae’s content or if you’re interested in learning more about his community or joining one of his games.
“As a streamer, as a content creator, as a YouTuber, there are so many skills you need to learn and they’re all useful. So I felt I was doing a disservice to myself by not building that skillset because for one it’s useful just to have for the rest of your life and for two you will make better stuff if you know it very well yourself.” – Hammurabae
“You have a game which is innately story based and it gives you options to express yourself. Some people play games just to shoot things. Or to just watch the story go. But there’s many people who would much rather get themselves into that world and put themselves in it.” – Hammurabae
“I think our community is very positive and that’s something I’ve been really proud to see happen. It makes it so that people will also defend it because any group has a culture. And ours is at the point now that when toxic people or people who want to screw around want to come in, sometimes staff doesn’t even have to do anything. It’s the people themselves who say that’s not going to happen.” – Hammurabae
“For anyone who wants to stream and to do well in streaming, don’t do that. Switching around a lot is an easy way just to make people not watch you, to be honest. Because people are habitual. We’re all habitual. We build habits for what we do, what we watch, and things like that. And streaming is one of those things that if you watch streaming for streaming, it’s to interact. And if it’s not happening on the same day, you will lose lots of people.” – Hammurabae
“My biggest piece of advice is consistency. And start with YouTube. Consistency on YouTube, like with uploading, with putting up videos and stuff like that. Don’t just put up a couple of videos, wait a while, and then do some more. You need a consistent schedule. Match that to what you can do, whatever that is. Maybe that’s bi-weekly, once a month. It doesn’t matter. But having some kind of consistency, certain days, certain times, that is huge.” – Hammurabae
“The YouTube space is just so much bigger. YouTube is a much better platform than Twitch in many ways. And it is, I think in many ways, more rewarding to you to build the skills on YouTube and then go to Twitch.” – Hammurabae
“I really didn’t put a lot of time and effort into YouTube in the beginning and I regret that. Not just for the limitations of Twitch, but because I feel much more fulfilled with what I do with YouTube.” – Hammurabae
“Just slowly build up. I’ve talked to many people who do and don’t have YouTube channels or stream on Twitch and some of them are very nervous about that. They’re like: I want it to be perfect. I want this to be just amazing. And then they just don’t do anything. And that will stop you before anything else will. So, being ready to accept that in the beginning you will not make perfect stuff.” – Hammurabae
“And there’s going to be what you want to do and then there’s going to be what people want to see. And they’re different. They are. They’ll always be different. And you’ve got to find what you can enjoy but also what people want to watch and that helps you. And there is an overlap there.” – Hammurabae
“It’s unhealthy. It really is. With anything like that, especially if you have expectations of any sort. It is really draining. It will make you less passionate. It will make what you do worse. And it’s just not mentally healthy, to be honest. If you’re obsessing over your sub count, your view count on Twitch, how well a video is doing… outside the context of analyzing.” – Hammurabae
“Finding de-stressors and setting apart your personal life is huge. Even if you’re massively successful. Even if you’ve got a million subs on YouTube, you average thousands of viewers on Twitch. It doesn’t matter. This is not your whole life. It becomes a part of who you are, but as a person life has so much to offer. And you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not setting aside time to go experience all the other things that you will be passionate about.” – Hammurabae
“One of the things I would love to do, it would be very down the line and would take time to get into it in terms of the resources needed, but I would love to utilize what I’ve made with the role play stuff and a really good editing team and maybe some animators to make a really serious role play series.” – Hammurabae
“I think there is a pretty broad movement away from traditional media things. Big movies, they’re becoming less popular in many ways. It’s much tougher to do well with them. TV is moving to streaming platforms obviously. But a lot of it is going to YouTube. A lot of people’s eyes, which are what matter at the end of the day, they’re going to YouTube to watch those sorts of entertainment avenues instead of the traditional methods.” – Hammurabae
“Disruption technologies are just so common nowadays. You really just don’t know what is around the corner anymore, especially where AI is going. There’s been a lot of news about that recently and it speaks to just how much unexpected stuff is right around the corner, I think. Because we’re in an interesting time in history. We’re going to see some pretty interesting stuff very soon I think, too.” – Hammurabae
“I think the core thing that an artist does, or as an editor or a content creator, there’s a lot of creativity in any of those jobs. But then there’s the aspects that you just have to do to do it. It’s the busy work that goes into the process. And if that’s the part that [AI] takes away and helps you not have to do so you can focus more on providing the real value and the quality and the artistic expression, that’s incredible.” – Hammurabae
“The human connection, the human aspect of entertainment that makes it interesting is, hey, you just don’t know what they’re going to do. You don’t. Human beings are wild cards. We’ll just say and do stuff that you’ll never expect and it will be entertaining.” – Hammurabae
Highlights This Week:
- Hammurabae explains how two years ago someone suggested he could explore his existing love of performance art and theater using gameplay and streaming as a vehicle. That then grew into a thriving exploration of storytelling content on both Twitch and YouTube.
- Hammurabae talks about how he finds editing his videos himself has not just proven to be a useful skill set but also actively helped make his content better.
- Mike asks Hammurabae to explain how he established and developed his niche world of historical strategy roleplay gaming in a large multiplayer community, all while streaming and content creating.
- Hammurabae talks about how he and his staff have developed strategies for wrangling a large community of gamers to work together successfully, but also how people sharing a love and passion for what they’re doing is key to make the work doable.
- Hammurabae talks about his lifetime love for history and how that, along with a passion for Dungeons and Dragons, helped lead him to his current path of content creation.
- Mike asks how Hammurabae balances the dynamics of as many as 90 players who are essentially acting, playing a game, and interacting as individual members of a large community all at the same time. His answer: setting strong boundaries, a fantastic staff, a positive protective community, and creating a zero tolerance policy for toxicity and hate.
- Hammurabae breaks down the organization of his staff, moderators, and “game controllers” that help him structure his community, streams, and games.
- Mike and Hammurabae talk about the importance of cultivating a fun community that is engaged and passionate. Hammurabae talks about the impressive amount of work some of his community members do, including creating original art.
- Mike asks Hammurabae about some of the logistical challenges of running his gameplay community such as language barriers.
- Hammurabae talks about some content creators that helped inspire his current Twitch and YouTube channel.
- Hammurabae talks about how he plots and schedules his content and streams.
- Mike asks Hammurabae what advice he’d given people who are interested in starting to stream and what they should avoid. His advice? Consistency is key! If you’re serious about being a content creator, start on YouTube and then move to Twitch and streaming after you have a strong base of YouTube skills. And seek out resources for learning those skills.
- Mike and Hammurabae talk about how to balance work and life with pursuing content creation and taking advantage of learning through the process.
- Hammurabae discusses how he pushed through how tough it can be to be a small streamer when view counts are low.
- Hammurabae talks about the delicate balance between using analytics as a resource to help grow your channel or account versus obsessing over viewership in an unhealthy way.
- Hammurabae explains how he makes healthy personal space for himself to protect his mental health and wellness away from his content creation.
- Things get a little fun. Mike asks Hammurabae, as a history buff, if he could go back in time to any historical period, where and when he would choose.
- Mike and Hammurabae look to the future and talk about some of Hammurabae’s goals and plans for his streaming and content, as well as the future of entertainment in the movement away from old media and towards new media.
- Thinking more broadly, Mike and Hammurabae talk about the historical moment we are in right now and how things like artificial intelligence will affect industries and creativity, as well as a need for strong leadership to guide us through a potential boom in machine learning and working.
Connect with Hammurabae
Connect with The Mike Show
Connect with MediaU
MediaU on TwitterConnect with Mariana Colin (The Morbid Zoo)