When Londoner Barry Mowatt was furloughed from his office job in April last year, he turned to video games to while away the hours. However, rather than treating it as a solo pursuit, he decided to start streaming his exploits on Twitch and it was then that BarryElBeardo was born. A year on, he has close to two thousand followers who keep coming back to catch his funny playthroughs of horror titles – although maybe those tattooed arms and his enviable beard might have something to do with it as well. Below, he tells us how he took the leap from hobbyist to hustler.
Growing up, I always enjoyed playing video games but my taste was always very mainstream; things like Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Mario Bros, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Little did I realise that when I got older, a global pandemic would plunge me towards a career path that would end up with me playing them for a living.
When I first discovered Twitch in 2019, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. It felt very much like chat rooms from the early noughties, except now there was a host who was playing video games, who you could watch and interact with. I was automatically drawn to LGBTQIA+ streamers who were playing horror games. Seeing how much they were enjoying what they were doing, I was in awe – I enjoyed my then-current job but I was jealous that people were doing something fun and making a career out of it. I had never done something I truly loved and this seemed like something I could try one day. I thought about the prospect of maybe trying it out sometime, part-time while I was still working. After all, I played a lot of video games albeit it alone in my bedroom.
When Covid hit, my office was put on furlough. Even though I was worried about what the future held, I knew it would be the perfect time to start streaming. I had made plenty of friends through Twitch, so I felt like I would have a good base to start from. After the laborious task of transforming my storeroom into an office/stream room, I was ready to go. I constructed a plan with my housemate to let me use his PC to stream from and started a part-time schedule to stream for a couple of hours, 5 days a week.
And things started off pretty well. On the limited schedule I had, it didn’t take long for me to start monetising my channel and find ways to improve it. You’d think it was easy. I mean, it sounds easy doesn’t it – waking up, playing games for a few hours, chatting to people online and repeat. But I wanted to be as professional as I could off the bat. I wanted people to come to my streams and think ‘wow, this guy knows what he’s doing’, even though I didn’t. I bought a digital drawing pad and learnt how to draw my own personalised badges and Emotes that subscribers could use on my channel. Even though they weren’t the best, I was doing everything myself. I wanted to be independent and nothing was going to stop me.
As the months progressed, the news came of redundancies at my office and after realising that going back to my previous job was not the future for me, I took the redundancy payout and decided that I would use it to focus on my streaming career. It seemed like a crazy idea, something I would never have dared consider before, but there was something about streaming that just made me feel like I was doing the right thing. The generosity of the small community I had built up so far was overwhelming. It filled me with hope that I was doing the right thing.
It’s now been five months after being made redundant, the channel is growing faster than ever and even though I have days of frustration and doubt in my head as to whether I will ever be able to become a full-time content creator without worrying about money, I’m doing my best and fighting hard every day to be the greatest I can possibly be. Now streaming 5 days a week, I probably work longer hours than I did before and there are days when I fret, but you know what – I’m happy.
You can find Barry in action at twitch.tv/barryelbeardo or @barryelbeardo85