Many explore new hobbies to replace activities halted by pandemic, some turn to digital media, sharing their work across array of platforms
Hayden Zhu – Twitch Creator
Gunn junior Hayden Zhu has been streaming on Twitch since August 2020, playing Valorant and other video games under the online alias “Hazu.” He said he attracts dozens of viewers per stream on Twitch, streaming for hours at a time multiple times a week.“I already played a lot of video games and was into the culture for a while, so I was pretty familiar with the idea,” Zhu said. “One day after watching a streamer, he inspired me to start streaming myself. I thought it looked fun and fulfilling and wanted to experience it myself.”
During the COVID-19 quarantine, many students like Zhu have found themselves lacking activities they can enjoy while remaining indoors and socially distanced. In response, some have explored content creation using digital media and now showcase their work online.
Zhu said he regularly interacts with his viewers and values them as they are a large part of why he continues to enjoy streaming and why he hopes to be able to stream for a living.
“The whole purpose of streaming is for entertainment, and seeing others entertained by what I do is the best part for me,” Zhu said. “Seeing that others have a fun time watching me do what I do makes me feel great and my favorite part of Twitch.”
Zhu said Twitch is the most appealing streaming platform since the connection between viewer and creator is unrivaled. While other streaming services such as YouTube and Facebook Gaming have attempted to replicate Twitch, their user count can’t compare, Zhu said.
Zhu sees a bright future as coming generations of students begin taking a stake in these sites.
“Teens make up a huge part of the community and help gradually grow it,” Zhu said. “As more and more young creators are building communities through TikTok, YouTube and Twitch, they will be the ones revolutionizing and pioneering the next age of content creation.”
That said, Zhu said he encourages others to their own content.
“It’s not as easy as some may think, but you should not be discouraged if you have a slow start,” Zhu said. “Everything comes together gradually, but the most important thing is to have fun.”
Jett Ng – YouTube Creator
Whenever senior Jett Ng has spare time, he said he launches Adobe After Effects on his computer and continues adding on to the editing projects he shares with his hundreds of YouTube and Instagram followers. Hours of work and scrutiny are compressed into each edit, he said, sometimes taking multiple weeks to complete.
Like many other creators, Ng let his shifting interests and experiences guide him to where he is now. He began editing when he made his first montage of clips from video games at the beginning of quarantine.
“But I eventually took the editing skills I had learned and started to make anime edits, which I found more enjoyable,” Ng said.
Ng said he has built his following through a tightly knit online community that shares a common interest in making visually entertaining anime edits. His content, he said, is driven by the satisfaction of seeing his work come to fruition and interacting with his fanbase. With each post, Ng said he receives feedback from his peers, drawing in more followers.
“Seeing so much support come out from people I look up to is really motivating and makes all the difference when admiring the final product of my edits,” Ng said.
Ng attributes his success to the supportive community he said he is lucky to be a part of.
“My connections with other creators and involvement in those communities gave me opportunities to get opinions from more experienced people,” Ng said. “Making more connections can also help with gaining exposure as people can promote your work to their audience.”
For newer creators, Ng said both motivation and determination are equally essential for one to gain exposure.
“Don’t get too obsessed with the statistics side of your posts as it can quickly cause people to lose motivation from a post that didn’t do as well as intended,” Ng said. “Consistency is key in growing your channel. Just remember that the ultimate rule of thumb is to make sure you enjoy what you are doing.”
Meya Gao – Instagram Artist
Since she was 6 years old, junior Meya Gao has been building her passion for drawing but has decided to take art more seriously in the past few years.
“Aside from learning technical skills and composing creative pieces, I sometimes make fanarts as well about the things I like, which I find relaxing when I need a break from schoolwork,” Guo said.
Gao composes digital art and shares it on social media platforms such as Instagram, where she started posting since quarantine started. She said she started using her Instagram account after experimenting with digital art and Photoshop, a medium new to her at the time.
“I find it a really fun medium because there is so much I can do with it,” Gao said. “The curiosity I had for digital art is what made me start posting more consistently on social media.”
Gao’s current goal is to experiment with different styles, which she constantly changes. She said her art also allows her to meet similar creators who can be supportive as well as inspiring.
“I like thinking about what to draw and then visualizing the elements in my head: composition, color choices, concept and more,” Gao said. “The process of drawing out the idea is my favorite part because I get to see how my idea will visually turn out.”
Gao said she sees her content creation as not only an exhibition of creativity. For her it is also a tool that can have a significant impact on people. She said creators like herself should always be mindful of how their content might affect their audience.
“I believe that teen creators can have lots of impact on different audiences as time goes on, and it’s necessary to keep the good values close with us when we create and influence,” Gao said.
For people new to content creation, Gao says they should keep a goal as to what they want their content to do for themselves and their audience. She said remaining patient and open to new ideas is important to enjoying content creation.
“Don’t stress about the algorithm of social media platforms,” she said. “Some are notoriously challenging for new creators. Starting fresh on a platform will always take time before reaching larger audiences, so take this time to value the process of growth and improvement, and value the followers and mutuals who really care about you.”