Regina streamer close to creating a job of playing video games

Sarah Tollefson started live-streaming on Twitch in October, 2017.

Sarah Tollefson can make hundreds from people watching her play

Sarah Tollefson said her games of choice are usually more storytelling focused such as Skyrim but it can vary. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

'How's your Monday?' Sarah Tollefson asked forty people who almost immediately joined her live stream.

Tollefson basically broadcasts live her video game and cameras so people can see her playing and her reactions to the game, all while instantly messaging with her.

"People can watch, you can chat along with other people," she said. "It's the most interactive form of digital media I think out there."

Her online name is xsarahmony. She originally started streaming for friends missing game nights but didn't have much interest. In October of 2017 a streaming conference changed her mindset and she's been doing it publicly since. 

Someone posted in the stream chat ‘How do you talk to women?’ To which Sarah replied ‘Same way you talk to anyone?’ (Dan Plaster/CBC)

Tollefson said people watch others play video games for one of two reasons: education or entertainment. 

"You can learn what they're doing and put that into your own game play to hopefully try to improve."

She said she's more entertainment value since she's mediocre at the games.

"I keep things like fun and exciting," she said. "And that's kind of a different take of it as well."

Tollefson’s start in video games began at around five-years-old with Pokemon Silver. “I just fell in love with it and I have not stopped ever since,” she said. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Tollefson said she hears people question watching other people play video games but compares it to watching sports. 

"Why would you watch somebody play football for two three hours--if you could just be doing it yourself?" She said. "That is a good argument to it but it's kind of like something somebody who is streaming and doing it well and succeeding in it is generally more entertaining."

"Like you can live vicariously through them."

How to make money off of streaming 

Tollefson said there's three ways to generate income doing her work. First, people can subscribe to her channel for free or a dollar amount. Second, people can 'pay with bits' as they watch. Third, people can donate money, similar to tipping. 

"It varies month to month," Tollefson said. "It's kind of hard to be like 'Oh you know last month I made say five hundred and then next month I might only make one hundred.' It just could go either way."

Tollefson would like to get up to one or two thousand a month. The top streamers can make much more than that from viewers and also dedicated sponsors, she said. 

Sarah Tollefson regularly has around 50 people watching her play and hopes to build viewership to the point where gaming provides steady income. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

As Tollefson is gaining viewers—each time she streams, an average of 50 people join in—she said there are some cases that she has to watch where people try to figure out where she is. As a result, she takes her security seriously.

"Other than that there's just kind of the idea of people who will come in and try to make you feel really bad," she said.

As well, she said there are specific comments because she's a woman. She's been asked to do explicit things but that's not how she streams or entertains the people watching. Tollefson acknowledges it can be difficult to be a female gamer.

"It's always been a male-dominated thing," she said. "It's gotten a lot better now—but even still."

Tollefson said even when female players make it to the top 1%, they are often ridiculed and told they are faking playing or their male teammates are carrying them.

"Have to have pretty thick skin sometimes," she said. "It's kind of just ignore that person, delete them, block them, whatever you have to do just to get rid of it."

For others thinking about live-streaming their video games, Tollefson said to go for it. She said it's a lot of work behind the scenes for hers, but a person really only needs a game, microphone and good internet connection to get started.

"Just hit go."