"My mum always likes to say that I was hatched," Diablo 2 streamer Alara Shade laughed. We were sitting in her streaming headquarters, a totem-filled temple to the 2001 dark fantasy role-playing game. The walls were decked with flaming skulls, glistening black swords and figurines of sub-human beasts.
Outside her window, a dozen horses milled about, alongside a black goat named Cain.
It's not a typical life. Alara Shade streams old-school PC games from a far-flung farm in New Jersey, splitting her time between hacking and slashing Diablo 2's Goatmen and tending to her real-life goats, chickens, alpaca, horses, bunnies and pigs.
"I always had animals around me. I had my chickens that I got to roll around in the dirt with and then I got to play Doom," she told me.
Although nothing makes her happier than dungeon-crawling in Diablo 2, this life wasn't her first choice. Alara Shade has suffered from Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Brucellosis and other illnesses that made working a nine-to-five impossible.
As a computer technician, Alara Shade struggled to stay on top of work as disease clouded her mind. After seven years, she said, she started forgetting how to do her job. A traditional work life was out of the question.
So Alara Shade turned to Twitch, where she's cultivated a die-hard community of old-school PC game fans who love watching her enthusiastically plunder D2's dungeons on hardcore mode. On breaks, she feeds her chickens. "Twitch has opened up so much for people like me who have disabilities, social anxiety, or depression," Alara Shade said.
We visited Alara Shade on her New Jersey farm last month to hear about how Twitch empowers her unconventional life: