When we here at Orange Bison think of awesome female Twitch streamers with amazing hair, one name usually comes to mind…
Unfortunately Aravelle was busy, so we had to make do with interviewing Retro Princess instead.
Talented and beautiful, Retro Princess is on the way to being able to accurately pronounce both of these words and is well on her way to becoming a major player in the UK retro scene. As well as her Twitch and YouTube presence, she creates hand-stitched character pieces which she showcases on her Sew 8-Bit website. Somehow she also finds the time to be Orange Bison’s very own Retro Editor. However – for the purposes of this review – she has kindly agreed to pass editing duties over to our Switch and PC Editor, Kieran Desmond. This means I can freely talk about the time she *REDACTED* and then *REDACTED* with David Tennant, in the *REDACTED* cucumber and *REDACTED*, followed by *REDACTED* the entire West End cast of Mama Mia.
Orange Bison: You’ve built up a large following on Twitch in the last few years. What’s are your tips for those just starting out?
Retro Princess: My following on Twitch is really quite moderate but I think across Twitter, Twitch and YouTube combined the numbers get a bit mad. I’m not entirely sure quite what people follow for but I guess being myself online and in real life is important. What you see is what you get…there is no difference really except I am a bit more shy in person. I think apart from letting your natural personality through, its important to support others and get involved with the community. There’s some fantastic friends to be made out there.
OB: As an autistic gamer, what are your views on the suggested links between autism and gaming addiction?
RP: I am really passionate, as a late diagnosed autistic woman, to educate and raise awareness. Autism is a developmental disorder…you are born with autism. You can’t ‘catch’ it through vaccinations, eating meat, spending time with badgers or any other of the insane ways I have heard!
Autistic people are on a spectrum, so no two people with Autism are the same. My brother and I are both autistic and have completely different presentations. Some people are non-verbal, some flap, some are socially anxious and others have special interest…or a combination of any or none or more of these things. Me? I have huge social anxiety (the internet is a godsend in that respect), I have severe executive functioning and sensory processing issues and I have very focused special interests. Mine are gaming, owls, and sewing… usually in cycles. Autistic people can seem like they are ‘addicted’ or ‘obsessed’ with certain things but in my opinion and from my experience, it is more a regulation issue. If I am particularly fixated on a game, for example, I won’t be able to stop thinking about it, talking about it, playing it etc. Sometimes this can effect my day to day living… forgetting to eat for example. That ability to dedicate time to and organise tasks is something I receive help with. In reality, I am not addicted to gaming. I just find it so interesting that I want to know everything about it. With help, I have learnt how to manage my interests in a balance with actually existing as an adult human. Not many adults on a similar point on the spectrum as me are lucky enough to have that funded support with specialists like occupational therapists and personal assistants coming in to check you are OK. Far too many autistic people are isolated and therefore cannot regulate their interests in balance with the rest of their life. Gaming, especially online, fills that gap of isolation and allows for socialisation without the anxiety that ‘real life’ socialising brings. No wonder so many autistic people are attracted to the online world.
In the respect of addiction… I don’t believe that the autistic ‘special interest’ brain is the same as the brain of an ‘addicted subject’, but I can see that an outsider would find it difficult to distinguish between the two. The more I talk about this stuff, the more that gap of understanding the world of neurodiversity narrows.
OB: What is 3/2 as a decimal?
RP: I can barely remember how to make a cup of tea on days ending with a ‘y’. Decimals were pushed out of my brain a long time ago.
OB: You recently got sponsorship from Retro Bench. How has your sponsorship changed your output on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter?
RP: Crikey I just wasn’t expecting that but its made such a difference. Having a machine that is reliable and powerful has made such a difference and reduced stress enormously. It means I can push the limits of the games I can stream. Retro Bench were also kind enough to send an Elgato capture device so I have the capability to record and stream directly from retro computers and consoles. That’s obviously handy for both YouTube and Twitch. But it has definitely been a huge game changer and, I hope, improved the quality of what I can produce.
OB: Your “Scare the Princess” series on Twitch is one of your most popular series. What is it about watching people being scared that other people enjoy so much?
RP: I jump so easily! I was playing a really naff 1984 point and click game the other day and when the baddy appeared I yelped! And it wasn’t animated or anything! I think its a bit of a laugh seeing someone squirm! There have been a couple of games where I have nearly cried though because they were SO scary. Typically, its been the Indie ones that have been the scariest. The talent in some of those small studios is insane. I think people also enjoy the creative level of swearing that comes out of my mouth when I start to get freaked out LOL!
OB: You often work closely with Octav1us, and were instrumental in helping her raise a substantial amount for mental health charities. Do you feel that Twitch streamers should address mental health issues in the Twitch community more than they already do?
RP: Ah I count her as a good friend. We definitely have the same odd sense of humour! I think Twitch streamers should follow their conscience. Not everyone wants to talk about mental health because not everyone has experienced the issues that others have. Some people simply don’t feel comfortable with those conversations. I know that lots of streamers support other amazing causes as well such as Special Effect (supporting disabled gamers with adaptive equipment) or other issues such as homelessness, human trafficking or animal protection. I think its nice to give back, especially if you have a personal experience or ties with charities.
OB: Is mental health a subject that is also close to your heart?
RP: Definitely. My autism diagnosis didn’t come until I was 30 and it took a complete mental breakdown to get there. I was in and out of the mental health system for many years, with my first recorded bout of anxiety at aged 3 – no-one could work out what the issues were (obviously they weren’t quite looking in the right places!). Anxiety is a real feature in my life both socially and generally. I take medication to help with this and found a course of CBT a few years ago quite helpful.
OB: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
RP: Erm because a raven is very intelligent and lots of intelligent things get created at writing desks. Clearly, I am not currently at a writing desk!
OB: Your Sew 8-Bit brand offers an unusual way for gamers to decorate their homes. What first gave you the inspiration?
RP: I can’t remember! I know I had seen lots of perler bead creations and wondered if I could turn those in to sewn creations and it sort of evolved really. I then learnt how to use a sewing machine and some creations came from there too. I’m a creative person by nature anyway so I’m always making something, be it my own clothes or cross stitched Sonic the Hedgehogs!
OB: As a female Twitch streamer and YouTuber, have you ever experienced misogyny online? How do you deal with harassing comments and messages if and when you receive them?
RP: Yes. It’s horrible and can make you feel quite threatened. Some of them leave it at one comment and get the block treatment and leave it, but some will create a whole campaign with multiple accounts. However I by no means get the real brunt of things…I think the single, more beautiful creators get the really nasty, sexualised stuff. I get the ‘fat, ugly wannabe’ comments. It is, unfortunately one of those things that people have almost come to expect which really isn’t right or fair. People should not have to think twice about posting photographs or comments because of what the creeps might comment back. I know some people who have had to go to the police because they have been threatened with actual harm. It isn’t limited to one gender in either position…I have received abuse from men and women alike, but I see it mainly (in my own experience) as sexualised comments from men towards women. But that is only my experience and everyone’s will be different. There also seems to be this obsession by some people that women have it easier when creating content online because they have boobs. I’ve tried really hard to train my boobs to create content for me and they aren’t performing. In seriousness though, women don’t ‘steal’ followers because they have different chest anatomy. We cant put our lady parts in a box so that its somehow even with some of the overly critical male creators out there. If people choose to follow based on cleavage alone, that makes them a bit odd. There’s magazines and stuff for that.
Luckily, most fellow creators, fans, followers and viewers out there don’t behave this way at all and are very supportive. They are the people to hold on to. Unfortunately there seems to be some sort of problem with people getting a huge amount of bravado when they get behind a computer. I don’t know if that’s some sort of psychological thing where people think its ok to say things they wouldn’t in person. Maybe some people are that broken that they would say that to someone’s face. If some of those things got said to me in person I would probably bite them. I bit an orthodontist once.
OB: Steve weighs 9st 12 pounds. He leaves his house at 8:15am and walks 2 miles south, which takes him 42 minutes. He then notes that the wind is blowing 7 miles an hour in a north-westerly direction. Steve then walks south-south-west for 1 hour and 12 minutes, at the same walking speed. What colour are Steve’s socks?
RP: I don’t know but I want some minty chocolate.
OB: You’re known to be a bit of a perfectionist. How frustrating are you finding these interview questions so far?
RP: I’m definitely making notes about how best to bully you later. This is my second interview ever. This one is definitely 14/10 gold star and house point level random.
OB: Tell us a little about your role at Orange Bison.
RP: I joined Orange Bison back in 2016 to write and produce video content. I became friends with the owner Andrew quite quickly as we both manage to laugh so hard together that we end up with pulled muscles. After the re-launch, Andrew invited me to apply for the role of editor for the new retro section. So I have a team of writers, liaise with other members of OB, do lots of PR and outreach, some of the social media, attend events to promote our services…bit of everything really!
OB: What do you enjoy most about being an editor?
RP: The sense of unlimited power and omnipotence with minions doing my will. Er…. and other less insane things like the variety of the role and seeing some amazing content from developers and our writers too. Yeah. That sounds less evil.
OB: Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what is this question?
RP: The last one? The vague one? The one that will lead to Martin’s untimely demise in a freak accident? Only time will tell!