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Quarantine Chatting with Twitch Head of Community, Mary Kish!

Today I am joined by Mary Kish, the new head of community marketing at Twitch! I met Mary years ago when I had a booth next to hers at an indie game showcase, just before she became the super-star she is today.

Our conversation begins centered around her new job, does it have a corner window office? Does she spend all her time just hanging out with Twitch celebs? What IS community marketing anyway!?

Mary explains to me that Community Marketing is all about bringing together content creators, whether that is initiatives like PRIDE and Women’s History Month or adding some rainbow unicorn emotes, it all falls under her umbrella (ella, ella). She also heads up and Creator’s Camp. Basically, if you are an up and coming Twitch broadcaster, she’s someone you need to know, because her job is all about hooking YOU up with the people that will help you succeed.

“We do a lot and it's all very rewarding.”

Now, one thing I’ve always wondered is how crazy is Twitch’s office? Is it like Google with their slide-instead-of-stairs? Is it like an ESPN broadcast center? Or is it just a pile of cubicles. Mary tells me,

“I worked at Twitch for 2 years in San Francisco before I relocated to Portland Oregon [Yes, she’s local to us Antlion folk!]. The office is a dream, with a full kitchen and kombucha on tap. I miss the snacks, but mostly I miss the office dogs.”

Luckily, she’s been working remotely for the last year, so quarantine has not meant re-inventing her workflow. However, just because she has a year of experience with remote work under her belt doesn’t make Mary immune to issues related to isolation and loneliness. As someone who has worked from home for 16 years myself, I completely understand and we get to talking about coping tips and tricks.

Mary suggests Vitamin D and B, just to help balance that you’re not outside as much. I concur, both vitamins and good eating are huge for keeping your sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll binge-eat a whole pizza too, but there’s no denying how you feel afterwards compared to when you’re eating healthier fare.

We continue on to what to do if things get really bad, and Mary shows me the Official Twitch  help article, which has a ton of resources. When we get down to the nitty gritty of it, she has glowing praise for the Trevor Project if you are LGBTQ.

Maybe most important of all is Mary’s advice, even if you are not struggling,

“Don't forget to reach out to your friends and family and check in from time to time. You never know who is struggling, and it's often not who you think.”

Or in short, call your parents, siblings, weird aunts and uncles, or whomever you’ve got in your life and check up on them. That human connection, even virtually or by phone, can be a tremendous help for someone struggling with the isolation of quarantine!

For content creators and… well, everyone, 2020 has been a bit of a mess. Ok, it’s been a massive disaster on a global scale, figuratively and literally. We spend some time getting into the weeds of it, and it’s all stuff you’d expect. Increased depression, economic damages, massive social upheaval for both race and gender. However, one thing Mary and I agree on wholeheartedly is that even though these issues are hard and the circumstances that tend to bring them to conversations like ours are tragic, we must talk about them and confront them. That’s the only way to drive change.

"The issues we're facing, whether directly from Covid or just amplified from this year's events, have brought many of us together in unity. Streamers talk about their issues to the community, and the community reflects that discussion and contribute their stories and feelings."

Ok, enough sad quarantine talk! What I want to know is what’s some GOOD stuff going on? Well, apparently to keep co-workers mentally healthy and socially engaged, Mary has been enjoying live video chats like “Stitch and Bitch” (Her words folks, not mine), which is just a non-work live stream of cross stitching meets venting off steam. Sounds like a good idea to me! Of course, also we both spend plenty of time socializing on Twitch itself. I bring up how I’ve really started to enjoy some non-gaming content like broxh_, and Mary jumps in with her love affair with conservation channels,

"Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Twitch channel and shows their sting rays on camera, Purple Martin Conservation has a live bird nest cam, and Dashducks is a pond filled with...ducks. You can use bits to feed the ducks, I recommend feeding the ducks."

That said, we are both gamers at heart, and I ask the billion dollar question: What’s going to be the next big thing on Twitch. Mary says…


Well, as a huge fan of Octodad, I can honestly say that I am also looking forward to the insanity that appears to be this game. It seems a more “watch someone play it” title for me, but that’s just fine and basically proves Mary’s point. Best of luck to everyone at development studio Young Horses!

As with every of these interviews, I ask about what else good has come out of it. Mary says she’s been learning to play stand up bass and has been jammin' tunes from the 1930s with her banjo playing landlord. She closes with one of the most unexpected statements of all time: She’s looking for someone to play the washboard. Come on Mary, if you have a washboard player, you gotta have a clay jug blower too. Of her time playing, Mary says,

“It's simple and I drink beer while I do it. Not a bad quarantine.”  

Only someone as talented as Mary Kish would tell me learning to play stand up bass is simple. I doubt I could even play that washboard!

And last but not least, Mary ends our conversation with a statement, nay, a DECLARATION:

“I refuse to let 2020 kill me. YOU HEAR ME 2020!? I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!”

And then she sent me this gif and ended our call.

Mary Kish… what a gal.

A super big thanks to her and Twitch for taking the time to talk!

See our previous Quarantine Interview with Kyle Bautista of Complexity e-sports team!


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