n a Vancouver bar where everyone knows Cloud Strife's name, Clara Sia sat down with just enough people to get a gratuity table charge at Twitch Vancouver's first meetup. This humble beginning at EXP Bar didn't dent Sia's resolve to give Vancouver's Twitch community a place to call home. In three years, she's built it into a rather gala video game meetup for the city. Along the way, she's hustled hard to get a job in the industry as an Influencer Relations role too.
You can think of this as the Definitive Edition of a Daily Hive article recently published that covers an upcoming Meetup along with digging into its history too.
What can we expect from this upcoming Twitch Vancouver Meetup?
Our Twitch Vancouver meetups are focused on a fun, social environment for Twitch streamers and other content creators, game devs, gaming industry professionals, and just gamers in general. Anyone 19 and over is welcome!
We also have game demos (we try to focus on local indies that are stream-worthy where we can), a photo booth, a live stream to watch on the TVs or interact with directly on their phones, and a creative space for folks to draw in. We invite all devs to bring their laptops and game demos and snag a table (first-come, first-serve). You’ll also see sponsors at our meetups, roaming about or set up at a table – this varies per meetup. There are raffle giveaways as well! This meetup, we’ll be giving away a gaming chair from Vancouver-based PulseLabz.
Vancouver was the first city to host a Twitch meetup in early 2015. Why did you start it then and how has the Meetup changed?
There is a huge gaming community in Vancouver, so I knew there had to be a good number of streamers within that community. I love Vancouver and it deserves to be put on the map for all of Twitch to see. We exist and we’re a force to be reckoned with. Fast forward to today, Twitch has given me countless opportunities, including a job in gaming, friendships, travel, hosting, sponsorships, not to mention my boyfriend (also a streamer). I continually feel a need to give back.
After attending a gathering of, I think there were 6 of us, at a local gamer bar in early 2015, I thought: this could be so much bigger. Through my relationships within Twitchland, I discovered several “bigger” streamers who lived in the area – even a couple Twitch staff members – who could help to spread the word that a Twitch meetup was coming. I also heavily depended on social media. It all started quite humble and our first meetup saw just over 60 members.
Fourteen meetups later, our taped paper photo wall has turned into a professionally made media wall; our Frankenstein stream setup is now our own spec’ed out gear; sticker giveaways are now streaming hardware giveaways; and funding now comes from gracious sponsors rather than our own pooled together money. We have a merch store, a website, and promotional support from Twitch. We even held 2 meetups at the Monstercat HQ. We are always evolving and always learning.
Being the meetup that set all the precedents, Twitch used us as a template to build out an official Twitch meetup program, which allowed for meetups in cities around the world to be formally endorsed and supported by Twitch. Many companies saw the benefit of partnering with Twitch Vancouver and are now actively involved in meetups across many cities. This growing synergy is extremely exciting to me.
Future plans? My dream is to one day host a mini-convention of 1,000-2,000 attendees for creators and their audiences in Vancouver. We’d need a bigger venue. And lots of money. Let me find those trees.
How would you describe Vancouver's Twitch community compared to others?
This is hard to say. All Twitch communities have heart, enthusiasm, and good will. I’m good friends with a lot of the community organizers. Some have a more formal component (panels/talks), some are more family-oriented (picnics/BBQs), and some are massive all-out parties.
Our events focus on the fun, social aspect. Provide a few things to do, have food and drinks available, do a few giveaways, and let conversations just happen. We take pride in having a healthy mix of content creators of all sizes, game devs, industry folks, enthusiasts, out-of-towners, and gamers. Making a mega-community of all these people is something I take a lot of joy in and, I think, the diversity is a big reason people keep coming back.
What is the biggest hurdle in getting the event organized?
Time. All of our events are done on volunteered time. Getting all ducks in a row and managing a team of volunteers is an immense task when you’re already working a full-time job, streaming on the side, and traveling a lot. It looks easy, but it’s so, so not. Acquiring funding, producing a live stream, scheduling interviews, coordinating game demos, designing and procuring all branded materials, driving social media posts, working with the venue, planning raffle giveaways, acquiring licenses, hiring photographers – the list goes on. There needs to be more hours in the day, haha.
Since landing a job in the industry, has that role come into play in planning the events?
Absolutely. My bosses support and value the projects I have on the side to do with gaming and streaming, and Twitch Vancouver is no different. Lately, I’ve been looking at studio locations of our clientele to see if they can attend a meetup and talk to influencers directly.
The last meetup, one of the indie studios we worked with had a developer who’d just moved to Vancouver from the UK. I put their game demo on the projector screen all night, setup an interview on the live stream, and personally introduced the dev to a staff member of Amazon/Twitch Prime and a gaming apparel company to collaborate in the future. I can’t say more, but these types of connections are something I’m looking forward to facilitating more of in the future.
If someone isn't too familiar with Twitch, what would convince them to RVSP?
We have a great community with fantastic energy. Many of our attendees come solo and leave with new friendships. If you’re even remotely interested in broadcasting, this is the place to learn some tips and feel included. Creators of all sizes attend, from affiliates with a few hundred followers to partners with almost 1 million followers, as well as YouTubers ranging from small to massive.
If you’re an indie dev, it’s an obvious win – free playtesting! We invite all devs to bring their laptops to demo their game (space permitting) and get feedback from streamers, even collect channels and email addresses for future communication. We see a ton of cross-over from Full Indie (where I first learned about the local indie scene), with guests including the makers of massive hits: Celeste, Don’t Starve, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Darkest Dungeon, and more. In fact, our presenting sponsor this meetup is Ryan Clark’s new studio Brace Yourself Games.
If you’re a business who wants to tap into the local gamer scene, we’ve got sponsors who can testify the worth in coming, including our previous presenting sponsor The Yetee.
And if you’re just looking for a fun night of socializing with other gamers and creatives, we’ve got you covered too. Vancouver is a great hub for all interests, and this community, I feel, is a great representation of the healthy gaming culture out here. Come on out!