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Interview with a SteelSeries Mod: XxCrystalline

The SteelSeries community has grown significantly in recent years, and certain members have stepped up in a big way to help manage it. So I asked one of our most active Twitch mods about what it's like being a mod for SteelSeries.

How did you first learn about SteelSeries?

When we moved into this apartment, my boyfriend offered to help me with my new stream setup because he felt like “If you believe in this, then I do too.”

With all that support behind me, a shopping spree ensued at our local electronics store. After getting some of my favorite brands for my new PC, I realized I didn’t have a headset preference and went about testing every single one. Too small, too tight, too sweaty, and so on and so forth. When I put on the Arctis 3, everything was perfect and I genuinely had no complaints other than it was wired but it was a start.

When we got home and I really got a taste of the sound quality and time worn without sweat or tightness, I was hooked and immediately went to the website to learn the brand (it’s a thing I do when I really like something so when anyone asks me about how I feel I can give then a genuine answer). I went through the SteelSeries about section, learned about the logo, and of course checked the affiliate applications.

When I got to the socials I followed all of them and even found out there was a Twitch channel but they hadn’t streamed in a while. Once Koob started coming online, I got a real feel of good vibes in the community and was so happy I made such a great choice.

How did you become a SteelSeries mod?

There were applications. We were asked to fill out a form on the site and give some important info on ourselves (most importantly: what kind of condiments we put on our fries).

I was super excited because I genuinely tried to be in as many streams as possible because I actually would have loved regular employment but couldn't afford a move to Chicago (plus I hate the cold) and this was the next best thing.

I honestly feel like a regular employee all the time even though moderators are just volunteer positions. Plus, I was allowed to officially add it to my LinkedIn and other social media for my own continuing efforts to work in the gaming industry.

What do your mod duties for SteelSeries look like?

Answering basic questions, offering extra information, directing people to the proper channels or links, quoting the chat rules, and of course time outs and bans.

I always say that I’m the “mean mod” because I'm heavy handed with the ban hammer. I am very specific with what rules are being broken and if they choose to repeat the offense, ignore me, or argue then I don’t waste any further energy on them.

My background is retail management and customer service so I can be pretty stiff since I’m used to being called in just to say no but there are ways to remove a ban if they truly want.

Is it different to deal with difficult people IRL than in online scenarios (like modding or streaming) when your role is to interact?

English was actually one of my best subjects so I feel like I am a better communicator in writing than I am verbally most times. Since I am typing all the time, I can describe words better and add more description to my questions when I don’t understand something. The only downside is when people can’t determine your sentiments. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume them to be typing from a place of anger but I don’t get that same consideration in return usually.

In physical interactions I try to keep a happy demeanor but if the other party is aggravated, I will stand my ground. This leads a lot of people to think I am being sarcastic or condescending. However, I still prefer that to possible doxxing or other attacks that people commonly use online.

What challenges have you encountered in your mod work for SteelSeries?

A few very ignorant DM’s, chatters who think they can get away with something because they consider it a joke (many of which are children), and one time a guy said he had to leave because the mods were too harsh even though we had never timed him out or banned him but just can’t please everybody.

My biggest challenge is having to ban a content creator. I usually check to see if the violator was just a bot or alt account that someone was trolling from, and sometimes its other streamers! I don’t know whether to feel more angry because they should know better or sad because they’re projecting a negative image to a brand that might have been interested in them.

What has been the most exciting part of being a SteelSeries mod?

The appreciation! I really feel like an employee with how often we are told we do a good job or get sent goodies. I have been working since I was 15 years old and there are only TWO jobs that have given me such words of encouragement and really pushed me to become more.

Even the viewers show us love when they see us in chat and it feels amazing. The runner up is that it doesn’t stop me from streaming at all, I still have plenty of time to focus on my own channel.

What's one piece of advice (or two) that you'd give someone looking to become a mod for SteelSeries or another brand?

Be active and ask questions. In order to moderate a community, you need to understand that community, and so you need to be part of that community.

Some jokes can be a borderline pass but a pass all the same, and you can only know if you ask and make sure or are in on it yourself. There are things that SteelSeries is ok with that I would call out in my own channel so you have to be prepared to ask what is and isn't ok in this channel because you are not in charge.

For me, this applies to any job: ask questions. There’s no way anyone is going to know everything, even if they know a lot more than expected.

How long have you been streaming and what about it do you enjoy the most?

I officially started streaming in 2016 but didn’t have the time to keep up with it. When I got my new PC and set up in 2018, I was able to add customizations and social media accounts to really work out my brand.

I really enjoy finding the people that may be across the world or somehow unable to meet normally because it shows that even if you feel like you have no friends or things in common with the people around you, someone out there feels the same way and enjoys your company.

Do you feel like your skills in managing your stream and personal brand carry over to being a SteelSeries mod? What is similar and/or different?

A lot of viewers come in and want to know how to get sponsored by SteelSeries or what stands out to the brand in a stream. I can answer some of these questions because I’ve seen and suggested some of the raid choices and remember the feedback on those channels in our mod chat.

I answer questions about my layout and how to choose a schedule on my own stream, but in the SteelSeries stream I try to take them all seriously because this may be a younger person who is ready to focus on this for some years to come and so my responses weigh a little heavier.

As a lifelong gamer, how have you grown?

It seems like I grew to be bold and try new things more often. I was a shy kid and used to only play RPG’s and a certain favorite stealth action shooter because I wanted to be by myself mostly.

Then, I moved backwards a little and got into older action/adventure games. Rhythm games became a favorite when the PSP came out. I had tried shooters but never liked any until I went to college and realized some games just need a team of friends. That had me reaching further and further into unexplored areas of other consoles and popular MMO’s on PC.

I’ve worked all of this into real life by taking chances and even if they turn out poorly I can be proud of myself for trying something new or different.

With a lot of folks in California, and even with SteelSeries in Chicago, do you feel that your location affects your ability to be connected as a streamer/gamer/mod?

I love this question because the East Coast really gets left out of a lot of gaming conversations.

When I was in college, they waited really late to tell us how the top companies we could start at would be in California as if everyone had the money to make such a huge change in their life.

Also, this is my home and I want to stand out over here so people can see that we aren’t just for profit and gain; we have plenty to offer to the arts and cultural values as well.

What was it like studying game design, and would you recommend it to others?

I recommend studying anything and everything you have an interest in because you never know when you will have the opportunity to use it in your current lifestyle or maybe if you make a big change down the road.

As far as my own experience, the school I went to was very heavy on Animation and mixed it into almost all Game Design classes. The two careers overlap pretty often but I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously because of course an Animation professor would prefer their own students to the Game Design majors that were just thrown into their class.

I did make a lot of meaningful connections to my classmates and my own Professors which gave me just enough recognition to not melt down completely and give up on it. I only do 3D models on the side for now but I do it steadily.

How do you feel that your race and/or gender affect the way people perceive and act towards you?

Well! I still get those people attempting to gauge whether I care about what I’m doing or whether I’m just taking up space for clout.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell who’s sincere and who isn't because once you go all out on a game you love and win the round/prize there’s ALWAYS a handful of people (because it’s definitely not just men) that have to point out my skin tone, my ethnicity, or my sex as a reason the host would have been too afraid not to let me win or some other “stupid SJW” type comment.

I think I’m at the age of “I don’t really care but if you want to step outside we can”. I don’t allow them to have control over my feelings or my energy in general but I also won’t allow anyone else who may look like me go through that because those people were allowed to go unchallenged.

Even as the only black female moderator (clearly still the minority here), it has still been suggested that I am only in this position to fill some quota but I am happy to say that SteelSeries does not tolerate any of that and I feel so protected. If I say I banned someone for those types of issues, there is no question about my decision and we just keep it moving.

I see it getting better in other places and I hope that type of communication and support continues throughout the industry as a whole.

Especially given the pandemic and folks staying inside more than ever, what are your thoughts on friendships made solely on the internet?

So I said I was always a shy kid but I grew up when chat rooms and forums were the number one internet pastime. I absolutely understand making real connections with people online and if I’m being honest I think it makes it a lot easier to cut someone off when you really feel like they’re disrespecting or taking advantage of you.

I just hope that whatever good internet etiquette people learn during this time will carry over into their everyday mannerisms when this is all over.

What is an underrated game that you would recommend?

The Yakuza series! It has everything from a tall, dark, and handsome protagonist who goes to jail for another person's safety and just wants to set things right to a mini game about collecting cards that are actually women in skimpy bug-related outfits who battle each other in a club sega arcade game.

It is heart wrenching and ridiculous at the same time and I recommend everyone (17+) at least try it.

Any shoutouts?

  • I have to give the biggest of thanks to @BigRichCOD who is the reason I felt confident enough to stream in the first place and also the reason I am a cheerleader for others because he was and still is a cheerleader for me!

  • My boyfriend, Kahung, for putting up with my addiction to video games and vinyl figures and always giving me a challenge to stream for a certain amount of time to make up for money spent, like a responsible adult.

  • My surrogate brother @RandoMcDandoTV for not letting me do this alone and being there when I didn’t think I could do it anymore. As well as being my meanest mod next to @DropTheGate who barely gives me a chance to see anything a troll has written in my chat.

  • Every BIPOC and/or female streamer on Twitch who has shown me that we are and will be here to support and uplift each other throughout the foolishness we put up with.

  • Last but not least, @SteelSeries for giving me a bonafide opportunity to be recognized in the community and taking the time to show they care about the work I do.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat Crystal, we're so glad to have you as part of the team!

You can find XxCrystalline on Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch, and of course around the SteelSeries Twitch stream!