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“Have you ever heard of Twitch?”

We were sitting in the dark just talking.  This was December 2014, and while it was still early, the sun had already gone down.  The room was starting to get cold.  And we were talking yet again about Star Citizen.

It seemed like he’d been talking about Star Citizen for as long as I’d known him.  We were both fellow gamers and writers, and he was just as excited about the lore as the gameplay.  I’d heard about the game before because of it’s unique funding efforts, but I was more concerned about playing games that were already out than prospective ones that may never come to fruition.

But he was passionate about the game.  I’d read the fanfiction he wrote, and it was good.  Really good.  Enough to pique my interest.  I explored the website, I read the lore, I pledged to the game to get a starter package.

And then I found that my computer couldn’t run it.  But everyone said, if you put money into the game, you’re not buying a game, you’re funding a venture.  I’d supported a good share of Kickstarters, I would be able to play the game someday, that was enough.

I’d heard of Twitch before, but it sounded boring to me.  Watching my friends play games while hanging out was one thing, but why would I want to watch a stranger on the internet play a game?

But this was different.  This was a friend, playing a game that I wanted to play but couldn’t, and who needed my support.  I watched his stream and became immersed in the Star Citizen community.  His passion is infectious, he shares his knowledge, he’s good at the game, and I become addicted to watching him play.  I learn who the top players are, and I talk to more and more people who are also passionate about this ambitious game.

Come April, I buy a desktop computer, my first one in years, so I can play.  I join a large organization and find people to play with.  I watch their streams, I play along with them.  I make friends.  In June, I’m playing regularly with another streamer that’s on a similar schedule.

I play along with him so much that in July, he puts me on the stream with him.  I become his cohost.  I am a streamer.  It shows me even more of the Star Citizen community, and I am now firmly a part of it.

With this new perspective, I start getting ideas.  The whole reason I got into this was to support my friend who introduced me into this world.  He’s an ace pilot, a loremaster, an excellent teacher… there was no reason his stream shouldn’t be more popular.  More people just needed to know about it.

I can do that, I thought.  While I was spreading the word, my mind was still searching as to how I could help him more.  And then he needed help with a graphic design project.

It’s hard when your hobby becomes your job.  People say to do what you love, but when working for someone else, your passion becomes condensed into other people’s wants and needs.  I still get some projects that I like at work, but most of the time, I don’t get to stretch my creative legs.

Yet here I could help.  He needed an overlay for his stream, but he didn’t know how to go about it, and it seemed like a lot of work.  I had a ton of fun working on it and was disappointed when it was done so quickly.  I tweaked it to his needs, enough to likely be annoying.  And I sat waiting for more projects to do.

Whenever he needed a button or a graphic, I was on it.  I came up with ideas of things he needed just because I wanted to make them.  I started doing projects for the new friend I was streaming with.

I was enjoying designing again, that mix of creativity and technical prowess.  That’s what drew me to graphic design in the first place.  I know many designers who are really illustrators or painters, but me, I’m a graphic designer first.  Graphic design is logic and beauty melded together, it’s practical art.  I am fulfilled by sharing my creativity, by using beauty to help others in some regard.

I love designing again.  To the point where, after working at it all day, I come home and work on projects for myself and other Star Citizen streamers, not because I feel obligated to, but because I want to.  I look forward to it again.  To the point where, I now let other people watch.  Every Monday night, I turn on that webcam, I turn on my screen capture, and I let other people watch over my shoulder as I design.  And somehow, I have an audience.  And that makes me happy.

Catch MzHartz’s design stream on Monday nights at 9pm EST at twitch.tv/mzhartz