Having resigned to become a full-time Twitch streamer, ABC’s Good Game: Spawn Point will soon begin looking for a replacement for iconic Australian gaming personality Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell. So I had a chat with Bajo about his experiences on Spawn Point, and what advice he’d give to anyone looking to join the Spawn Point team.
“It’s been a really humbling experience. Honestly, just I sit here and I’ve been so lucky to have dream jobs at Good Game and Spawn Point.”
From the outside, it’s easy to think of a role at Good Game as a dream job. Hosting the show for 11 years should convince anyone that Bajo truly believes that too. Having worked in a hosting role and production myself, I know the stresses and expectations that come with putting together a TV show.
It’s not easy.
You may be reviewing video games and going to conventions and events. You may be interviewing famous developers and idols.
You may even get to spend a whole day on the couch. But there are still demands and targets to be met. There’s still an audience to please, a community to build and a product to deliver.
It’s not easy. At times it feels like setting your Career Difficulty Level to Maximum and grinding it out.
But for Bajo this was a dream job – and you can see it in his face whenever you turn Spawn Point on. With his departure from the program I was initially concerned with how the audience might react, especially considering some of the vitriol surrounding the cancellation of Good Game, earlier this year.
Thankfully, Bajo is incredibly optimistic about Spawn Point’s future.
“What they lose with me leaving, they gain a lot more in the opportunity of how that show can progress”
These aren’t just hollow words of support, either. Bajo retains a boisterous energy for the show and its future. And it’s clear he doesn’t see the next host as his ‘replacement’ as much as a fresh start for Spawn Point.
The idea of a new host invigorates him.
“They want to find someone who brings something new to the show. One thing I am so excited about seeing is them – the show will change a lot next year, it was always going to – seeing someone new in there, new energy, new ideas. Someone who can really shape the show and be a part of this beautiful team.”
Bajo 2.0 clearly won’t work. So what’s the core piece of advice he has for any prospective host?
“Never ever, ever be late. Ever. That’s my biggest advice for anyone ever,” he tells me, laughing.
“Never be the person that the crew or someone is waiting for – because if you’re the person everyone is waiting for all the time, you might get a reputation, and crews will be frustrated with you. Then when you do turn up they’ll already be angry with you and that’s not a great way to start a day of work.”
Beyond timeliness, he explains that there’s a need to understand you’re working with a group of talented, creative individuals and those relationships extend beyond the camera’s lens.
Good Game is very much a team effort. The show comes together thanks to a large, driven team. Interacting with that team, compromising when necessary and understanding that you may be asked to try things you haven’t thought of yourself is critical to success.
“Part of your skill set is being able to be malleable and being able to adapt. Fight for what you believe in, sure, but a lot of presenting and acting is compromise and being malleable. Being willing to give it a shot, embarrass yourself and go all directions. Trust in the edit and in the direction.”
You can’t expect to be exceptional straight out of the blocks either. Have faith in your ability but never stop working. Never stop trying to get better. In Bajo’s own words: “Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.”
“If I was auditioning for Spawn Point: I would sit in a room for three days straight in front of a camera practising stuff. Practising doing a review. Practising doing some sillier stuff.”
“Because it’s the people who do that, it’s the people who go to auditions and have learnt that one line, they’ve done it 200 times in front of a camera, they’re the people that get the roles.”
Landing a dream job like this isn’t just about the team or the ability and skills – it’s also about you, who you are and your strengths.
While focusing on the team is important, integrity is an even bigger factor. Access to video games and video game personalities has become easier than ever. Livestreaming is an important part of the landscape and it’s only growing bigger.
In a livestream there’s nowhere to hide and streamers are unashamedly themselves, sometimes to their own detriment. The audience can see through anything forced or fake and so honesty becomes paramount to success.
This is one of the chief reasons Good Game continues to succeed even with high production values. It still feels real, like a conversation between friends rather than a review or PR spiel or a taxpayer-funded production on a major Australian TV network.
It eschews spoken word reviews, letting the various personalities of its host shine through.
For Bajo, the message is clear: “Be yourself, be fun and listen.”
“Also, don’t be a dick. They never get the job.”