How gaming changed my life | Shanna Zwart | TEDxHilversum

When her father took his own live, Shanna slipped into a dark place. Struggling to find her way back, she played video games all day, ‘not dealing with the situation’.
But gaming slowly turned things around when she started sharing her gaming sessions with others. Her fan base kept growing; today she is one of the most trending and successful shoutcasters of the Netherlands.

Some people – of a certain generation – might think that gaming is an antisocial event, is T O T A L L Y wrong. For Shannanina gaming was her way out of her depression at the age of 19, in the aftermath of her father’s suicide. She spent two months in bed gaming, ordering in pizza and basically just ‘being’. She was following a streamer [red. someone who has a webcam operating on him/her while gaming] and thought: ‘I can do that’. At first it gave her a reason to wear something else than pyjama’s and put on some make-up. For some time she was only the lonely on the webcam, but one day she spotted her first follower. And then six and then …. the hundred thousands she has now. Her singing during gaming became one of her unique characteristics, at the point where followers now have requests for certain songs. And donate money for her performance as a gamer/singer. On Twitch – a gaming platform – she is hot. She is the hottest female streamer in the Netherlands.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

my name is Shawna I'm picturing all of you naked right now so just if the cute guy over there can like sit here that'd be great um all right let's do this the journeyman project three legacy of time is a first-person puzzle game that takes you through immensely difficult puzzles to unlock a part of the storyline that you're going through now this game is basically my first memory of video games and I think I was about eight or nine years old and I would get home from horse riding on Saturday my brother would come home from soccer or football and we would run up to the attic to play this game with my dad for hours and hours on end taking turns who could control the mouse and this is one of my favorite childhood memories that I have and it's is a video game then I think two or three years later when I was 10 years old we moved to a game called Shadow of the Colossus now Shadow of the Colossus is it's an adventure game where you have to safe your girlfriend and by by defeating this big giant monsters you make your way through the country and you have to find these monsters first which you have to you have to ride your horse and go find a monster and then and then beat the monster and you have to do that 15 or I think thirteen times I was really scared as a little girl so I would play this with my brother on the PlayStation and I would always want to ride the horse and then when we found a monster I would just throw the controller to my brother and you can beat him and then after that I would grab it back and was like I want to ride the horse now I don't know really what happened but after that puberty happened and like awkward bodily functions and my interest for gaming totally disappeared it made way for interests like makeup and girls and Girl Talk and girlfriends and boys and then when I was 17 I moved to the other side of the country and funnily enough boys were also the thing that got me back into gaming because I got a boyfriend and he used to play a lot of Starcraft 2 now Starcraft 2 is a real-time strategy game in which you have to battle usually one 1v1 so you're battling another person online and it's said to be more difficult than chess which is a pretty big statement to make what this meant to me was like I I was good at a lot of things in in that relationship but Starcraft wasn't one of them and my only goal was just to beat my boyfriend at it and so I was like how can I improve so I started to watch pro gamers I started to watch them I started to watch a streamer called day9 who was explaining the game and explaining strategies and I was like I need to get better I need to beat my boyfriend at it and then I beat him once they got super upset but that was that was my main goal in life basically just to get better at this game I had post-it notes on my on my screen of things to do while like when I was playing then when I was when I was 19 everything kind of changed on the first of New Year's on 2013 New Year's Day I woke up to like 25 missed calls on my phone and I was a little I was a little like confused because it was we've been celebrating New Year's and I was just waking up like what what is this and and it was like 25 minutes calls for my mom and my brother and the doorbell was ringing and they were standing in front of the door and they looked like they hadn't slept in a week and like something was wrong so my mom sat me down and my brother told me that my dad died and that he had taken his own life and and there's this you have this idea of your parents right there untouchable the there's this front that are always supporting you especially when you're in your teenage years you never realize that that could end and I didn't see this coming so it took me by surprise League of Legends is the game that that kind of dragged me through that time League of Legends is a massive online battle arena MOBA game and you battled teams of five so you have a team of five the other persons are a team of five and you battle each other and this was an awful time for me in my life I I was in a really bad place I lost my job and my boyfriend broke up with me and then I I quit studying because I just couldn't do it anymore and basically spent two months just trying to deny that I was there I was in bed I was ordering pizza I was binge watching Gossip Girl and there was this path from my bed to my desk and everything else was like pizza boxes and just garbage and I was just playing League of Legends 10 to 14 hours a day mainly as an escapism and a way to cope with or a way to not cope with with what my life was back then and I was playing this game with friends and my friends told me that I sucked a lot and I was like well how do I get better and they're like watch watch twitch watch this and this person see what he does and try and do that so I started watching twitch switch for those of you that don't know is a live streaming platform where you can watch other people play video games and it's the biggest platform for that right now the whole internet so I started watching that and then and then at some point because I was really bored and they didn't know what to do I I was like I wonder if my internet can handle something like that so I started up this software that made it possible for me to stream and I did the stream and and nothing happened I mean I was live but there was no one there there was no one watching but I was just playing League of Legends for 14 hours and just sitting there like just shouting at my friends all the time being angry and then the next thing I did it again because I literally didn't have anything else to do and there was one viewer and he was like hey I was like what who are you like what are you doing here why are you watching my channel he's like I want to I'm looking for people to play with so I invited him to one of the League of Legends games and we played a game together and that was that then I went to bed and I was like that was weird so then um the next day he came back and he brought some friends and then all of a sudden I had five people watching me as like five people what are they doing here what is this and I started doing that it became like this this reason for me to get out of bed and put on some clothes because you can't really stream without clothes that'd be weird and put on some makeup and just like you know act like a normal person for for a little bit so I started doing that more and more then after seven or eight months I got a partnership with twitch which means that you can kind of start making a little bit of money out of it and I won't go into the details of a partnership but it basically means people can subscribe to your channel and support you in that way and by that time I think I had around 70 or 80 viewers daily and then I was like wow maybe I can maybe I could make this something like a career or like maybe I can give it a try because I I didn't know what else to do I didn't want to go and work in a supermarket for the rest of my life no offense to anyone who works in the supermarket by the way I'm sorry so I started doing that and it became literally all that I got out of bed for and somewhat unhealthy maybe but it had me it had me going it's it's really weird now that I'm standing here really after all that because right now from those five followers and then 50 followers now three years later 43,000 followers and my channel has been viewed almost two million times and and the it's really weird to me you know it's it's turned into more of a lifestyle and more of a thing for me too to put all my focus on and it develops more opportunities for me like hosting TV shows right now I I'm hosting a TV show in London and a TV show in Amsterdam and that's kind of cool that it got from like being depressed and basically not wanting to live anymore to to a career that has me excited to get out of bed and and and make some online stream for people that watch me every day the reason you might be like why is she telling us this it's um this we don't care everybody has their own as their own struggles but the reason I'm telling you this is because gaming has had a bit of a negative ring to it not not for everybody but for some people I mean for others it means a different thing but some people see games as an anti-social thing as a thing that disconnects you from the real world because that's such a great place to be in and thank you I'm not done so what I'm trying to say is gaming for me what it's mean what its meaning to me and what it has meant and what it still means is it was a way for me to connect with people and it was a way for me to to forget about my problems for a little bit when I needed that now it is a way for me to make a career and create my own job basically from from doing live streams and looking back three years back I can see how much I've grown and and that is super valuable to me because I guess you can see it as this when you're little you see yourself every day in the mirror so you don't realize that you're getting taller and you wrote you only realize that when you make those marks on your doorpost I think everybody has done that every birthday or so you make a little little mark on your door and that's how you can see that you're growing and I think for me gaming and live-streaming and my channel right now have been those marks on the doorposts and I probably wouldn't wouldn't be here if it wasn't for for those games not only literally here like speaking here but in general I I don't think would have been standing here so I'm trying to break that stigma a little bit of gaming being negative and show you guys how it's helped me and it should be viewed as a positive thing that could connect people that's about it I think

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