Skyrim Grandma Shirley Curry Is The Role Model Content Creators Need

On May 2, 2020 Shirley Curry, also known as Skyrim Grandma or Gaming Grandma, posted a vlog to YouTube detailing that she would be scaling back her content output. The main reason was to manage stress, to get her blood pressure under control, and not let the pressures that come with being “under the microscope” of the public eye get to her. At 84 years old, she said her health is not great and she has to take control of it.

23 days later, VG247 reported that she was scaling back “for the sake of her health after receiving patronizing comments.” The article suggested that an “onslaught” of harassment and negative comments were the reason for her health concerns, painting yet another picture that gamers are toxic and driving Ms. Curry away from posting videos and streaming.

Shortly after, other sites such as Kotaku and Forbes published similar articles, though Forbes seemed more focused on reporting Shirley’s statements more directly with less interpretation. Ms. Curry herself responded to VG247 on Twitter, contradicting their depiction on “onslaught of patronizing comments.”

I think all of these publications missed the real story, though.

Shirley Curry’s vlog speaks to the challenges of being a gamer on YouTube, but many are missing the wisdom and brilliance in how she addresses it, setting the bar high for those to look up to when facing their own stress under the microscope of popularity.

The vlog starts off with Ms. Curry’s usual greeting to her grandkids, an affectionate moniker she’s long applied to her viewers, before detailing that her health isn’t good and her blood pressure is “going insane.” She does, as other sites reported, state her stress level is too high and she states she’s going to have to take control of it.

Already this is setting the bar for how YouTubers and Twitch streamers should be handling things. Recognizing the problem and resolving to address it.

What’s more, she states that some of the comments on her videos are stressing her out. Not that they’re harassing, abusive, or toxic. That they’re stressing her out. She also recognizes they shouldn’t stress her out, but she acknowledges that they do. “That’s just the way it is.” The gaming grandma seems to understand that emotions are not logical and often irrational. We cannot stop emotions from existing, but we can decide how we will respond to them. Ms. Curry goes on to detail how she will be doing that.

“From now on, I will respond to very, very few comments. I will be deleting a lot of comments. Here are some of the reasons why. I have played Skyrim for years, and I know about the HUD, I know about the different mechanics, how to play the game. And I don’t have to be reminded and told all the time. Any comments I see like that is going to be deleted.”

Now, giving some commenters the benefit of the doubt, some might post with a genuine intent to be helpful, but again we’re talking about comments that are acknowledge that should not stress Ms. Curry, but are acknowledge as having done so. She doesn’t say these are all posted with ill intent, but that they do bother her. If it was one or two a month, I’m sure she wouldn’t think twice about them, but when you reach over 800k subscribers, simple numbers increases the frequency of such comments from both people being jerks and those thinking they’re being helpful.

But a little bit later, she hits on the real subject here and she addresses it very much like I imagine my own grandmother would.

“If you don’t like the way I’m playing, I don’t know why you watch. So, you can go watch some other gamers because I’m tired of stressing over it. I’m not enjoying recording anymore at all. It’s no longer fun. I feel like I’m under a microscope all the time. I have much more fun and I play much better when I’m just playing by myself. It puts a lot of pressure on me, and any gamer when people are watching them play, especially when they nit-pick everything they do.”

It’s the simple reality of having such a large audience, though she does note in the video 800k subscribers only equates to about 3,000 to 5,000 views per video, causing her to ask what’s the point of chasing subscribers when most don’t watch the videos or skim through them anyway.

She talks about people telling her what weapon to use or what armor to get or quests to do, none of which are conducive to what she enjoys in Skyrim. “If you want to do those things, go on and play your game and let me play my game and if you don’t like that, go watch somebody else play their game.”

She’s 100% right. Social media and by extension in ways YouTube has bred this mentality of, for whatever reason, dwelling on the negative and trying to somehow pound that negativity into enjoyment. People put far too much energy into things they don’t enjoy and as Ms. Curry says, “I don’t know why [they] watch.” Her advice is absolutely correct – if the way she, or any content creator, plays isn’t entertaining or isn’t what one wants to see, viewers should go find another content creator who makes content they DO enjoy.

And at just under 6 minutes, she hits on another shining statement that sets her, in my mind, above many other YouTube gamers & Twitch streamers.

“I only started recording a few years ago because a handful of subscribers I had at the time asked me if I would and I just did it for a lark. And this is what all has happened. And I can’t deal with it. So many gamers are obsessed with numbers, and I guess because they’re trying to make a living out of it, so I understand that, but I’m not. So I have no interest in numbers. I don’t care how many people follow me. I don’t care how many people watch me. None of that makes any different to me. I play to have fun. And if I don’t have fun, I shouldn’t be playing.”

“Anyone who doesn’t enjoy watching me can go watch better players who run after quests and numbers and see how fast they can speed through everything without really seeing all that I love that’s in the game. If that’s what you want, go watch them.”

I can’t applaud Ms. Curry’s approach enough, it’s the view that everyone should be taking when they make YouTube videos or stream on Twitch. Yes, you want to entertain, but if you’re not enjoying yourself then you’re just punishing yourself. Video games are meant to be fun and you should be playing to have fun. If others enjoy that with you, it’s all the better, but you should never try to fit your fun to others’ tastes.

Overall, Ms. Curry has recognized a problem and the impact it’s having on her. She’s taking steps to address the problem for her own mental and physical health. She’s recognized that she’s not having fun and is going to take steps to do what she enjoys. And she’s encouraging anyone who doesn’t enjoy her content to seek out content they do enjoy.

She made no accusations. She didn’t attack anyone, not even the commenters who have caused her stress (though she did express frustration with those who don’t accept her explanations and try to argue back when she’s stated her position). She simply laid out what’s going on, how it’s affecting her, what she’s going to do to address it, and encouraged those who don’t enjoy her content to find others whose content they will enjoy.

With age comes wisdom, and like the oracle or sage in so many of our favorite games, Ms. Curry has dispensed wisdom in Vlog #12 even without setting out to intentionally do so.

 

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While I doubt Ms. Curry will ever see or read this, I would like to make one statement directly to her, and by extension anyone else who may have a similar interest in their gaming videos.

Ms. Curry,
If you enjoy roleplaying and telling stories through your videos, even if nobody understands it, I hope you will continue to tell those stories. It may take a while. It may take years. It could even be long after you or I are still around to think about it before someone stumbles on a story that’s long been told and “lost” to the recesses of the Internet.

But it can still capture the imagination and someone might spend their day at school or work wondering what will happen next, knowing they’re going to start the next video the moment they get home. As you said, you’re having fun is really the purpose. And if you really do enjoy roleplaying and making those stories, if you really do enjoy it, that’s reason enough, regardless of who gets it and who doesn’t.

I have more than a dozen characters that mean so much to me because they had their own personalities, backgrounds, views, quirks, and attitudes that nobody but me will ever know, but I cherish them all. I have pages and pages of these stories written by hand and typed in a file through the years that nobody has ever read, nor likely ever will.

If you find joy in doing the same, don’t let those who don’t get it be the reason you stop. Tell the stories you want to tell, even if you’re just telling them to yourself.

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