Every streamer on the #GSQUAD has a unique origin story—but Bunny’s might be the most unique of all. Though she commands a following that numbers in the hundreds of thousands, Bunny spent most of the last two years treating streaming as more of a side hustle or hobby than a full-time job. “I haven't really taken it full-time or anything till recently, like just last month,” said the streamer.
But Bunny’s love for gaming goes back far beyond her decision to turn streaming into a career. It all began when she was diagnosed with leukemia at the tender age of five. “I spent a lot of years in the hospital, stuck in bed most of the time. I couldn’t go out,” said Bunny. “So during that time, I fell in love with the PlayStation that I had in my room.”
Don’t worry, fans: “I’m fully recovered,” said Bunny. But the months that she spent in her hospital bed would have a tremendous influence on her life and career. Even her favorite video game genre, fighting games, hearkens back to this formative period. “The game that really captured my interest was actually Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha,” said Bunny. “I had other games, like Crash Bandicoot and stuff like that—but Street Fighter was the one that captured my heart.”
Despite her lifelong love for Street Fighter, Bunny would wear a number of professional hats before her career brought her back to gaming. She built up her original fanbase as a model and cosplayer, doing modeling work for various brands while cultivating a following on Patreon. During this period, she occasionally streamed on Twitch in order to connect with her fans.
Over time, the streaming side of Bunny’s work began to feel more rewarding than the modeling side. “I retired from modeling for a variety of reasons, honestly,” said Bunny. “Not only was there some confusion on the companies’ end with misfiling my taxes, but a bunch of it was just a lot of stress ... it was time for me to move on.”
In streaming, Bunny has found a vocation that is much less stressful than her prior jobs—one that allows her to make money doing something that she is truly enthusiastic about. “Recently, I've tried to invest my time into going back to my roots, what really made me passionate about playing games,” said Bunny. “I think just a month ago, I was like, ‘hmm, I really loved Street Fighter as a kid. I wonder where that is now.’ And I looked it up, and the FGC is pretty huge.”
Inspired, Bunny purchased her first fightstick and threw herself into the fighting game world. Although she’s still learning the ropes, she plans to attend in-person FGC tournaments once she’s confident enough in her skills. “I'm a newbie, so I have a lot to learn and a lot to practice,” said Bunny, “but eventually I would love to go.”
Unfortunately, her next opportunity to attend an FGC event might not come for a while, due to the growing coronavirus pandemic. “I saw that EVO was still open, but I was like, ‘ah, no, thank you. I'm worried about that.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for a streamer like Bunny to try new things while working from home. In spite of the potential quarantine, Bunny is filled with ideas to grow and expand her Twitch channel. “My focus right now is to keep exploring games,” said Bunny. “Like, the thing right now is that there’s so many amazing games coming out. It’s kind of hard to focus on one.”
That’s not to say that the virus hasn’t impacted Bunny’s work. Though she is able to stream from home, she’s noticed an increase in technical issues as Twitch has been inundated with streamers and viewers trying to make the most out of their self-isolation. “There's a lot of lagging going on. When I stream for like a few hours, the stream will start lagging, and it never really did that before.”
This is particularly troublesome for Bunny, who is both an avid streamer and a fan of watching other streamers. Her favorite people to watch are Pokimane, who she credits as her “biggest source of inspiration,” and Street Fighter legend Daigo Umehara. “He's an amazing fighting game player, and I got his book recently, so I can't wait to read that,” said Bunny.
Some of Bunny’s drive to improve at fighting games might be connected to the adversity she’s faced as a woman in the gaming community. “Women are expected to be extremely good at a game, like so, so, good, just to prove that we are gamers,” said Bunny. “As soon as I started really doing this full-time, I noticed I’ve had some questions like, ‘why are you playing Street Fighter? Why are you playing fighting games? Why are you doing this?’ And I’m kind of like, ‘would you ask this to anyone else?’”
Still, said Bunny, she has received some benefits through her gender, including the inherent boost to her audience that she gets from viewers interested in watching a girl play games. Fortunately, she’s able to avoid giving up too much ground to sexist trolls thanks to her strong community and a crack team of moderators who are quick to shut down any problematic talk. “My community is really, really sweet, and completely supports me, and I have great mods, too,” said Bunny. “I think it’s normal for any streamer to have some rotten apples come in and try to instigate or troll, and I just feel like the best thing is to ignore them, delete their comments, and focus your energy and attention on the people that support you.”
At the end of the day, Bunny is unfazed by the trolls—after all, she’s dealt with far worse. She’s a cancer survivor with years of experience as an online public figure—and now, she gets to play video games for her career. What more could one ask for?
“I had to scrap to make it on my own and survive in the world,” confided Bunny. But now that it’s 2020, she’s no longer fighting to survive in this world. Instead, she’s standing on top of it.
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website www.alexlee.work.