Badger: “Going through the low times has allowed me to live and experience things that I needed to experience”

The absolute lows and incredible highs of a Terraria speedrunner.

Screengrab via Badger

Known for his positivity and Terraria speedruns, popular Twitch streamer William “The Video Game Badger” Bishop went into Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) with no expectations. He ended up coming out of it as a crowd favorite. 

At AGDQ, Badger missed out on a core item that was required for continuing his run, which meant he had to fill time for roughly 30 minutes as he tried to get the run back on track. 

During that time he was interacting with the crowd and staff as everyone worked together to fix the run and have a good time. With members of the audience and staff yelling out passwords, codes, and inputs to help, Badger was able to change the in-game time during the event’s first Terraria run. 

Despite the ultimately failed run, Badger’s positivity helped raise more than $30,000 for charity and brought a lot of fans back to his own stream. After his first stream back, Badger had more than 1,600 subscribers and 40,000 followers.

Following his massively successful period of growth after AGDQ, Badger talked with Dot Esports about running a new game at GDQ, interacting with people as a streamer, and his open-door policy in regards to mental health and maintaining a personable relationship with his viewers.

What was your motivation for getting a run in at GDQ?

Badger: I had so many people telling me that they wanted to see me at a GDQ and asking if I would be at Awesome Games Done Quick. So I sent an application into them with no expectations and they got back to me and said yes, sure, we have a time slot there so I got my tickets and went with no expectations or having ever really experienced the GDQ community before. 

I went and had fun the first day before I did my run, and from that point on GDQ changed a lot for me. From the moment that I stepped on the stage to the moment I stepped off, it was a pretty different experience. But I went in with no idea what it was going to be like and knowing very little about the community, but they really welcomed me with open arms.

And throughout your run, you raised more than $30,000 despite not even getting to complete it. What was going through your head once you saw the total and realized that Terraria, a game you introduced to the event for the first time, did so well?

We got a really good time slot, but I honestly think that we would have done well regardless of where we were placed because the Terraria community is just so tight knit and supportive. Pipeworks Studios and  Re-Logic both came out and supported the stream.

I think the main thing is that games like Fortnite get to have a lot publicity funneled towards them because of esports and things like that, but Terraria doesn’t have that. It is almost like an iceberg for the community because it is looked at as a smaller game but underneath it there is a massive player base that is willing to come back to the game at any moment. They identify as Terrarians and I think it shone through when the average for the entire AGDQ marathon per hour was around $18,000 and during our 67-minute session the Terraria community was able to raise over $30,000, which was tied for highest total outside of the weekend. 

What was your thought process like when you finally hit that wall and realized that you were going to have to stall for time because of that missing item? Did the initial interaction with the crowd once that happened change things?

It did because I think up until that moment I was doing a speedrun and was pretty focused on it. Things were going okay even though we had made a few mistakes, but I think at that exact moment all of my fear and anxiety went away because I had messed up so much that I was just like “oh this happened.”

That was the point it really turned into the content I usually make in the first place, which is engaging with people, interacting with them, getting them hype, and having that sort of one-on-one deal with people. It was all kind of punctuated by the moment when the crowd yelled out the password for the server as we were trying to fix things and turn it to midnight. That is really what the stream is all about and that is what I aim to make all of my content about. That individual connection with each person. 

And what would you say is the moment you remember the most from your block? Was it that triple zero passcode moment?

I think there are two things really, with the first being right before getting on stage I flashed back to last year at TwitchCon in San Diego where I was taking part in the full-time streamer workshop that I was invited to by Twitch. And I just remember hearing what that panel was talking about when it came to getting up on stage and I started doing breathing exercises, because I was a bundle of nerves. 

I also distinctly remember the moment I laid down live on the stream because someone from the crowd had just made a joke about the triple zero reference. And that was amazing because it showed me that, at that moment, just how engaged absolutely everyone was. I got a lot of comments about how I couldn’t get away from that stream, I literally couldn’t walk away. Some people actually ran back from their hotels that they were so engaged, which is exactly what I aim to do. 

What was your reaction to finding out that you were being added as incentives for other runs like Squall being named after you in the Final Fantasy VIII run? Did you just sit back after your block was over and just take it all in on social media? 

Actually, so right after GDQ cut away from me I didn’t look at my phone for the longest time because I wanted to be there in the crowd and talk to people. So I had no idea what chat was saying or that Terraria was trending on Twitter at that time. I had no idea of the social impact that was going on. When I opened up my phone, it didn’t make any sense at all. I couldn’t parse everything that was going on.

Luckily I did see the Tweet about me being named for Squall and I happened to retweet it, so that was another $2,600 raised? To get some person that no one has ever heard of before on a GDQ to be named during the FFVIII run, that still blows me away. The support was insane because after my run I was just focused on talking with the crowd and shaking their hands because they were absolutely so positive about being there. And that lasted about three hours of people walking up to me it was just incredible. 

And moving on from GDQ, how insane was it for you the moment you realized on your first stream back that you had more than 500 people coming out to support you even while GDQ was still going on? 

To go from 150 average viewers to be not at a peak, but just 14 minutes into my stream and for someone to tell me that there are 500 people here? I had no concept of what it was going to be like because that is crazy for any streamer to get. It is insane for you to have the same average for months, which in my case was 150, and then 10 minutes in you have broken that, 15 minutes in and you have doubled it. That is unheard of. 

There is no way I could have predicted GDQ to have this effect at all because, like I said, I went into it all without expectations because my community wanted me to do this. Getting publicity for myself was totally outside of my main thought process on the idea because my two main goals were to show Terraria off to people because it is an incredible game and to try and get more people into Terraria speedrunning. So the impact it ended up having on my channel was totally unbelievable and I am still blown away by it. 

You already knew that your return was going to be big because you already saw some of the growth in terms of viewership right as you started, but what were you thinking the first time that 100 sub bomb dropped? 

*laughs* I have been asked things along the lines of what I was thinking when this stuff was happening and I don’t think I was thinking a lot. I think I was really just feeling out the situation and letting my emotions be free and reacting honestly. Not filtering what I was feeling at all. 

The moment ryuquezacotl, a good friend and mentor of mine came in and decided to drop $500 on me, I just felt like my friend was there to support and be happy for me. He was experiencing the same emotions I was feeling, that’s how I felt. I knew that ryu was feeling all the same glow, happiness, and energy from AGDQ that I was feeling. 

As many of your viewers and other streamers have pointed out, you are one of the most genuine people in your reactions to things on stream and aren’t afraid to show the real you on camera. How important is it for you to be transparent with your audience and keep that connection going? 

I think that is more something that has developed over time for me because I cannot, I don’t have the ability to hold back things with my audience. The stream is my life, period. It is everything to me and I have poured my heart and soul into it for the last five years, and as a result it has taken up more and more of who I am as a person. And I have totally leaned into that being a reality to me, so I never mince words. 

I say exactly how I am feeling, whether I am having a good day or bad day I will talk about it regardless. That is actually something that is necessary for me as a person, because if I shy away from that I start to feel like I am lying to my family, so I can’t do that. I can never walk away from that genuine part of me because I feel it is an integral part of not only my stream, but the concept as a whole. And from what you just said, I can tell others can see it too. 

For reference, six months ago I was in a very bad place with a lot of different things. I had been suffering with a lot of mental health issues, I had been depressed, and I was diagnosed with PTSD by my therapist who I had just started going to. So for people who were around at that time have seen a different William, a different Badger, because I had to come on and tell them that I was in a bad place and couldn’t produce the content I wanted to for them. I actually had to step away from the stream in the middle of last year because of it for about 37 days.  

Do you think going through something like that, maybe a combination of burnout and other mental health issues, and then going to see a therapist during that time has reinvigorated you?

100 percent. Going through the low times has allowed me to live and experience things that I needed to experience. I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine and I told him that I really wished I had gone to GDQ sooner and met this community sooner and he said “no William, the place you were in previously wouldn’t have allowed you to be prepared for that and it wouldn’t have been the same.” So all the stuff I have experienced previously has prepared me for what I needed to do on stage and the content I am making now. 

One of the things I have heard a lot is people asking me how I stay so positive. And the answer is I don’t always stay positive. I have bad days too and I think acknowledging that and dealing with that has helped me be both a better content creator and happier as a person. 

And for those people who are going through stuff, I am here for you, honestly. I have a policy, it is an open door policy that I actually picked up during my time in the army. It was a fairly common policy to have for higher ranked individuals and if anything was ever going on you could use it to talk to someone. And I use that during my stream.

If anyone ever has any messages for me I don’t care what it is, you can always send it to me. Happy, sad, anything like that, I always respond to every single message. When I walked off the stage at AGDQ I had 100 Twitter messages, 100 Discord messages, and more kept coming in, but I have answered every single one. I will get to you, I promise. 

Now that AGDQ has passed and you are walking out the other side with more viewers and a bigger social presence, what are you goals moving forward?

There are a couple things here that have been preoccupying my mind in almost all of my free time, but the number one thing for me is don’t get a big head and just keep being who you were. And that kind of leads into just staying the course and keep working hard because nothing has really changed. I still have the same message, I’m still me, I’m still William, I’m still Badger, and we are going to continue going forward from here pushing the same message. 

Stay motivated because if you are motivated you can do anything and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. And keep being awesome because you know you’re awesome.

You can catch all of Badger’s streams on his Twitch channel, so if you are looking for a positive space with lots of Terraria you just found it.