Elleigh Bean on Destiny, Streaming, and Everything in-Between
She streams, she claims heads, and most-importantly, she shitposts.
When tasked with exploring the game streaming ecosystem on Twitch, writers are often compelled to shed a light on its most-lively corners, ignoring everyone else in the process–but what makes streaming an interesting medium is its ability to mimic that feeling of shared camaraderie when the viewer count doesn’t exceed that of the quadruple digits and chat isn’t moving at lightning speed. Elleigh Bean is one such streamer in that category, and as a fan of both Destiny and the type of content she makes, getting her for an interview seemed only fitting.
“We bounce back and forth rapidly between shitposting and being insanely wholesome on Twitch,” she says. “I’m a trans Twitch streamer, I primarily do Destiny 2 content and don’t break out of it too much.”
For as long as the Destiny franchise has been alive, it congregated players around a common pursuit–that of earning good loot and having fun while doing so. Elleigh’s streamer career didn’t formally start until mid-2020, but her love for the franchise reaches far into its earliest days. “I’ve been playing Destiny since the first DLC — the Dark Below — dropped, and it feels every time an expansion or anything else is announced everyone is just like “it’s make or break for Destiny”, “the franchise is on its last leg”, “it’s about to die”, but it doesn’t actually because the gameplay loop that Bungie has created is satisfying enough to keep players engaged,” she says. “While we might not be as satisfied as we could be with the content, it’s still never bad.”
Little-known as Elleigh may be in the content creation sphere currently, she still views it crucial to her job to foster a good sense of community. “The space that I inhabit I really vibe with–I love the Destiny community and I think it’s overall mostly wholesome,” she told me. “Twitch as a whole — both corporate and community — have their problematic areas, but my little corner is something I’m really proud of.”
Though curating a community can be an easy way of avoiding its most toxic elements, Elleigh thinks more work can be done to make the whole of Twitch a lot more welcoming. “I think there are larger content creators that could probably do better. I’m mostly familiar with Twitch and the Planet Destiny people, and I think that they do a phenomenal job of maintaining a positive attitude and an overall lawful good energy in the community,” she told me. “As a community, I think we need to get better about stopping problematic creators and educating people on how bigger content creators’ actions aren’t necessarily what our community is about.”
Following civil unrest on the heels of George Floyd’s murder by police last summer, Elleigh thinks there’s a lot more that creators can do to make their voices known and heard on issues of grave importance to justice and equality for all. “With what happened in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement, and on a smaller scale within the Destiny community — us calling out harassers and predators — I think that if the behavior of calling out for doing shitty things continues, then we will get better about having a more positive community overall on Twitch,” she says. “ If we don’t call people out for not saying anything, for not speaking out, then nothing’s going to change.”
This runs in parallel with Elleigh’s core belief in a society that leaves none stranded on the shores of material deprivation, one where basic necessities aren’t hard-fought for and would allow any and all to pursue their passions freed from the shackles of wage slavery and other means of socio-economic subjugation. “I am a leftist. I think healthcare and shelter should be basic fucking human rights. You shouldn’t have to pay for where you live, you shouldn’t have to pay for the things that keep you fucking alive like water and food–and with where we are as a species, we shouldn’t have to pay for power [nor] internet,” she says. “I think governments should tax the wealthy a whole hell of a lot more than they do now, and I do not think billionaires should exist. I also feel like there’s a correlation to being a leftist and being trans, because the fact that I have to pay to feel comfortable with my own body with anything, it’s dogshit. If I want to feel comfortable existing around other people, I have to spend tens of thousands of dollars [just] in order to fucking get there.”
Playing video games — as a means to distract but not forget — is a common resort for those struggling to keep count of our world’s unrelenting cruelty. For many — myself included — Destiny was a much-needed respite from the woes of a highly-transmissible airborne disease lurking outdoors–being a retail worker however, Elleigh did not know peace even during the pandemic’s worst days. “Since I am an essential worker, I’ve never actually gone into lockdown. I never stopped working and I never stopped existing in my normal space. The only thing I stopped doing was going over to friends’ houses and that’s kind of why I started streaming again [after a long hiatus],” she says. “The sense of community that you get with streaming has definitely helped me immensely in that, well… you don’t feel alone, you find people that are similar to you, and essentially you create a larger family–a larger extension of yourself.”
Some might dub this entitlement, but Elleigh ran her trials in the retail business, and it’s no fun for a worker to be strung so thin for effort and time with little payoff. “I wake up at 1:30 every morning, partially because of executive function and I can’t necessarily get out of bed right away and also because I put on a face everyday so I can feel comfortable going out of the house. I leave my house at 3:15, I go to work, I prep the conveyor line with vehicles and whatever when you unload the trucks; we unload the truck as a team, and then we stock shelves for the rest of the day. So my job is very very physical, and then I come home, I take a nap, and then I stream,” she says, laying out her schedule for a typical stream day. “It is exhausting. One of my most-recent streams is a good example of that because I didn’t take a nap beforehand, and I just wasn’t fucking there–my community deserves better than that, and I was regretting hitting the “Go Live” button the entire time, but I wanted to be there for the community and for everybody else, so I continued on and pushed through.”
Elleigh streams partially because that helps her cope with the constant existential dread we all seem to be plagued by to some extent. She wishes still that there was a social safety net that would allow her to pursue streaming more seriously, both for her own well-being, and her fans who deserve better than watching someone constantly struggle with back pain as they attempt to entertain. “If it wasn’t for my community and how positive they are now, I wouldn’t be here–well, I’d be here physically here, [but not necessarily mentally]. But overall, the community that I have pushes me to get better so I can get better for them if that makes sense,” she says. “But if there was a basic UBI — if that existed — then I wouldn’t have to break my back everyday, I wouldn’t have to sacrifice a large part of me and my day and I would be able to create content more regularly for my audience and for me.”
When reality becomes too much to bear, one has to sometimes douse themselves in irony so deep, earnestness can no longer be discerned–this is the common practice of shitposting, a way to express without the added burden of an emotional commitment to more straightforward and honest statements otherwise. “I [often] forget that I have to think about things before I say them outloud, so some of the things I say are kind of ridiculous,” she told me. “My favorite thing in the world is to make people laugh–if I can do that then I think I’ve succeeded for the day. That’s essentially my main goal in streaming and life in general–even if it’s saying something completely weird and out of left-field; if I make anyone laugh, then it’s all worth it.”
Being a proud show of her own identity — as trans and bisexual — Elleigh has inspired a few to free themselves of the shackles of cisnormativity and embrace an unconventional view of their own gender. While the resulting adulation is received well on her part, she recognizes that she is owed naught as it is everyone’s journey to walk and figure out on their own terms. “There have been a few eggs that have cracked in my community, and while they have reached out and said that it was because of [the space I afforded them], I’m just giving them a space to feel comfortable and express themselves,” she says. “I don’t want to take credit for them finding themselves, if that makes sense. While I am thankful that [they did so successfully], it’s not [solely because of my community]–there are endless places that you can be in on Twitch and find out who you are, but the fact that they found themselves in my community makes me a little bit happy.”
On Twitch and discovery, Elleigh thinks there is so much more that could be done to sustain a healthy ecosystem of smaller creators and keep things fresh and lively on the lower scale of the engagement ladder. “[The Twitch algorithm and bigger creators] should be better about uplifting smaller creators,” she says. “There was a tweet that I saw earlier that was actually pretty cool: The original tweet was about finding a way to implement TikTok’s discoverability with Twitch’s clip system. So say you can scroll through clips of whatever community you have, and whatever Twitch’s algorithm would be in this, would push smaller creators up. […] I think that [would] actually [be] a pretty cool way to do it.”
Creators — both big and small — on the platform are often left out of key conversations that decide their very own fates. Whether it’s cowering to DMCA takedown abuse, a puzzling ban of the words “simp” and “virgin” to seemingly no avail, the airing of anti-union Amazon ads to Alabaman Twitch viewers, and most-recently them using controversial language to describe women in a recent ad campaign for Women’s History Month–it’s clear PR firms and execs overrule any and all creator input. “The best way for anything to get better when it comes to creation is having a creator in with the insiders making the changes and suggesting them and seeing how things are happening and having access to behind-the-scenes shit,” she says. “I have to say the anti-union ad thing is fucking scary–I have no say on what ads are played on my channel, I have none whatsoever. Amazon could literally just play whatever kind of ad — they can play an anti-trans ad over my page, they can play another anti-union ad — literally anything and I just wouldn’t know. It’s fucking terrifying.”
With a sobering note on Twitch’s uncontested dominion over their streamers’ livelihoods concluded our interview, but I couldn’t help but remark on Elleigh’s work ethic even as the circumstances for her stay may seem inopportune at times. She continues to persevere and deliver for her followers at every single turn, no matter the pitfalls of juggling a taxing job and a hobby as reliant on putting on a good performance as streaming. To that end, she’s about succeeded in her mission even given the current relatively-small size of her community, and if past growth is anything to go by, the most-rewarding parts of her journey are yet to come.