If you’ve ever sat in for one of TheHunterWild’s streams you know you’re in for a treat. He’s a very down-to-earth broadcaster on Twitch that puts a special emphasis on his community and branding. He makes sure to go out of his way to try and brighten each and every one of his audience member’s day through his warm welcomes, improv sense humor, and story telling.
We sat down with TheHunterWild to find out what initially attracted him to stream on Twitch, how his community morphed into what it is today, and the inspiration behind his wildness themed branding.
Enjoy part 1 of our interview series with TheHunterWild!
Interview by: Matt
Streamer News: Hi Hunter! Could you give us a little introduction of yourself and stream?
Hunter: Hello! I’m Hunter Wild, which is my real name. Yes, that’s really badass and yes, I really love it. I’ve been streaming for just over two years now to a growing crowd of weirdos, jackasses, and brilliant souls who are on this voyage of life alongside me on the Internet.
The stream itself is fully variety, meaning I’ll play damn near anything, but the focus is really on the experiences we all get to share together in the stream, whether that’s just interpersonal or actually utilizing the game itself in that.
I’ve described it like this before, the game is like a taco shell, which I call an “edible plate;” it’s the thing that holds the real value of the meal together so that you can actually eat it.
Now, in addition to games, I do occasionally just TALK, at which I’ve gotten considerably better in the 2,500-3,000 or so hours I’ve streamed so far. And I was a professional artist before I started streaming, so it’s a safe assumption that’s going to make its way on there soon, given how powerful Twitch Creative has become.
Right now it’s seven days a week, as well, but we’ll hopefully get that to six days a week soon so I can do other things, like not die.
Streamer News: Haha, not dying is important! It can be hard to balance your streaming career with day to day responsibilities. Especially since you stream so often, I couldn’t imagine how you do it.
Hunter: It’s a challenge. I’m married, too.
We literally schedule time together. It can seem like a big downer when there’s an inherent lack of spontaneity due to the constant working, but once we’re just hanging out together it’s fantastic and everything else melts away.
For the most part, we’ve had daily dedicated time together, even if short. Right now that’s not the case.
Streamer News: You seem to have your plate full, that’s for sure.
We’ve noticed that you put a special emphasis on making sure your community has a sense of togetherness and support each other as much as possible. What makes your community different than others? Was it always that way or did it a take a lot of work to form it into what it is?
Hunter: I’m not sure I can pinpoint with ease any features that make it unique, off the top of my head. But it does feel distinct from many others. I think we’ve all put a lot of effort into cultivating an atmosphere where you can joke around and be immature with dick and fart jokes and the like, but only to a point. Respect is a top priority. I call people in the stream “assholes” all the time, but for me, that’s not a genuinely negative term and I try to emphasize that, likewise with other language and attitudes I bring to bear in the community and on stream. It’s more of a Dennis Leary, I’ll-only-call-a-real-friend kind of “asshole” than the angry guy on a street corner kind.
You’ll also probably notice some terminology I keep using, “we.” The entire stream is a group effort. I don’t bring any and every viewer or community member into the fold on core decisions about the stream; I definitely accept a captain’s role for top-down direction, and there’s no confusion about the clear and distinct role I have as the streamer. At the same time, I created the stream as a 100% community-based endeavor right from the very start, even the very conception, because of personal philosophies of mine, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with it. Continuing in that vein, I essentially wanted to present a personality that was consistent with the community I wanted to form. Presumably, that’s a lot like what ANYONE does; you want friends that are at least a little like you, and you tend to attract like-minded individuals, or at least people with similar interests and attitudes. I specifically cultivated that personality and community and engendered the type of community in which I would personally thrive.
Yes, it took a lot of work to form it into what it is. The mods in my channel are an absolutely integral part of that, as well. And, on that point, I have gone to great lengths to ensure that they and I are on the same page. We’ve always had a separate mod chat, which has taken many forms but is now on Discord, a mod document that outlines my expectations and demands yet is fluid to their feedback, suggestions, and requirements, and a fairly strict approach to it all. At the same time, we do more than demand respect for the mods, we command it. The same ultimately goes for community members and for myself, though with different emphases.
It continues to take a lot of work, as well. For instance, we have a “venting chamber” in our Discord wherein people can rant about things they need to get off their chests. That takes some heavy moderation at times while also requiring a lot of empathy; a big stick and a soft whisper in the same room, sometimes at the same time.
However, with most of these things in place, and because of a lot of the upfront and early work we did, 95% of it all just runs fluidly which means we all just get to sit back and enjoy our time together.
Now that I’m thinking about it, we also have a sort of self-policing quality in the stream, within the community and amongst its members. It’s not perfect by a longshot because it’s human, but it helps to keep everything within the boundaries of acceptability, for the most part, much like any amorphous social guidelines have ever been in the last 400,000 years.
Streamer News: Your community is definitely unique and fun, it’s great that you keep things so casual while making sure everyone respects each other. That is a very respectible.
We’ve sat in for your streams on multiple occasions and noticed that whenever someone subscribes, tips, or cheers to you that you write their name on an oversized (fake) $100 and tear their piece off. What originally gave you the idea to do this and can you explain what this metaphor means?
Hunter: YES, IT IS DEFINITELY FAKE. PLEASE DO NOT ARREST ME.
The idea came about very organically. It grew into what it is. I don’t think I actually got the idea from anywhere directly, though I have little doubt that somewhere behind this idea is a memory of seeing it in some form elsewhere. “So there is nothing new under the sun.”
The thing that kicked the thinking process off which eventually led to what I’m doing right now with it all was that I picked up the CatBug (which I had no idea was an existing character from a YouTube series; I just thought it looked fucking adorable) while I was at TwitchCon. I was going to give it to Jen, my partner, but then I started thinking of ways I could integrate its unbelievably disgusting cuteness into my stream. It happens to have a little zipper pocket on its back and I was thinking of ways I could use that.
When it eventually came around to the (fake) money component, I instantly had the whole thought process lined up for it. This was something I regularly did as an artist. When you paint, you aren’t thinking in words; when someone asks you to explain your painting, you always struggle, or at least you should. I had to train myself to think of explanations for things as I was creating them, at least sometimes.In this case, when the money thing came around, I was like, “EUREKA!” The metaphor was already there; write people’s names down on the (fake) money, tear it up, and put it in CatBug (which we call MuskBug on the stream).
It signifies that the support is more than the money. The money allows me to pay rent and eat food, to keep my cats from starving, and to keep the stream running and growing into an even bigger and badder-asser thing than it is, but the actual support itself is the lifeblood to the spirit of the stream. The money is just money. The support is not the money. It is the act itself, and the intention behind it. And that’s what I value. That’s why anyone really does anything
Streamer News: It’s awesome that you view your communities support that way, it’s sometimes hard for people to not get caught up in the “limelight” of streaming.
Hunter: You might be right, and it’s very understandable to make that mistake internally. It’s really not an option for me, either by accident or by the cultivation of things that were set in motion for me a long time ago.
Streamer News: Definitely. While we are on the topic of the “MuskBug” and how your channel runs. Your channel branding is awesome and fits very well with your channels theme of the outdoors and wilderness “musk”. How did you come up with the branding and how important is branding to you as a streamer?
Hunter: Branding is vital, in my opinion. I was raised in a way that was consistent with my name. Point of fact, I was named because of the attitudes held by my parents, and then raised in a way that was consistent with that. I hunted my entire childhood and young adulthood, having to kill and skin and gut. This wasn’t necessarily a ubiquitous and constant and inherently deep part of my life; I wasn’t like abandoned in a mineshaft in Alaska and forced to survive my way back home over the course of a year or anything, but it was a major part of growing up. My grandfather would take me out to hunt on farms and ranches, my dad would take me up to Alaska and Canada, when hunting was closed in Texas, to have some legitimately and robustly insane, unscripted adventures.
And, I can say with all honesty, I love hunting. I can feel the primal victory in my bones, especially when I would take out as much advanced technology as possible and just GO. But, in the 21st century, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. So I abandoned the act and thought of hunting animals and began pursuing adventures in hiking, backpacking, and camping. I also dabble in survivalism. This mostly started when I was in my mid-20’s, and I’m 34 now, so it’s been a while that I’ve been on this side of the outdoors. My mother has also said for quite a while now that I simply hunt different things. Especially when I got my degree in philosophy.
As for the “musk” component of the stream, that came about thanks to a friend of mine in college, Adam White, who is one of the most incredible humans I’ve ever met, who used to scream some crazy shit across the building where our philosophy classes were held. “HOT ROPES OF JIZZUM” is one of the many things that he would just absolutely yell at the top of his lungs. He would also say things like, “I’m gonna miss your musk,” when we would part ways, or, perhaps upon returning to each other, “I’ve missed your musk.” It’s not like everything that came out of his mouth was strange, but when they were strange you would always remember it.
So when I started watching Twitch, Ducksauce was one of the first people I latched onto. He’s also currently my longest running sub and my single biggest inspiration for streaming. It just so happened that he has a damn near identical personality to Adam White and just so happens to say weird shit like, “I’ll miss your musk.” That’s what triggered the idea of using “musk” as a stream currency for me, since this was all sort of congealing around me beginning the stream itself. It ties in perfectly with the outdoors component, which ties in with my name and personal history, which also ties into my personal relationships with weird-ass people.That’s a perfect trifecta to me.
I’m also a huge fan of not abandoning physical world experiences for virtual ones. I think each can augment the other, to varying degrees, but neither can mimic or replace the other. I wanted to bring some association of my absolute favorite realm of the physical world, the woods, and my experiences within it onto the Internet. I feel like I’m in my natural habitat, and, in a way, I am. Conceptually, too, we all sort of get to bring it back down to core components of humanity, bring it back old school, bring it back to some of the things that really matter at the heart of human experience. So we get to have this sort of deep nature reminiscence that should connect to most people on some level (as well as provide some amount of longing) while also emphasizing old school, core community, survival-only-together kinds of mentalities and social experiences.
Streamer News: Yeah I’d have to agree with you on that. It’s interesting to see how your brand has cultivated itself through your own personal experiences in your life. It definitely gives your channel and stream a more organic atmosphere.
Hunter: Oh, to the point of branding in general, there are a few reasons I think it’s vital. On the one side, it’s a first-impressions sort of thing; people get a sense of what you’re all about, or immediately and inherently approach you, your community, and your stream with an idea based on the branding elements that are first presented to them. Everyone probably already knows that consistent branding allows you to be consistently engaging and recognizable across platforms, such as reaching from Twitch through various social media platforms, as well as out at conventions where people are wearing your merch. Those branding elements and that saturation has growing concentric impact over time, which is very valuable.
“It’s interesting to see how your brand has cultivated itself through your own personal experiences in your life. It definitely gives your channel and stream a more organic atmosphere.”
Most definitely. I think there are a few approaches to this, too. Some people might be inclined to embark on a new adventure and totally invent their brand and/or the elements that go into it. Others will draw completely from their internal wells. Some others will likely mix and match.