Reece McDowall is a Twitch streamer best known for his DayZ gameplay. He has recently combined his love of video games with his altruistic nature and become a Movember Ambassador. The Movember Foundation is the world’s premier men’s health charity which does everything in its power to stop men dying early. On Sunday 28th November 2018, the Well Played Project and The Movember Foundation will host the Movember Video Game Challenge which aims to create a space where gamers can form social connections and speak openly about mens’ health issues. As a gamer and Movember Amabssaor, Reece McDowall is the ideal spokesperson for this event. Find out how you can get involved in the Movember Video Game Challenge and support the men in your life by reading the interview below.
GC: How did you get involved with Movember?
McDowall: I got involved this year. I’m a Twitch Streamer and I wanted to get involved with some charitable work that was relatively close to what I was doing. I started researching charitable organisations and Movember was the one that I identified with most.
GC: According to the Movember website, men are facing a health crisis and it’s not being talked about. Does this refer to lack of media coverage or does the average man not have anyone in their life to speak to about their health issues?
McDowall: I think it’s a little bit of both. The main part that I focus on [as a Movember Ambassador] is the social integration aspect. A lot of men don’t think they can talk about certain things because they don’t think others will understand or will judge them. That’s why I’m encouraging my Twitch community to be a safe place for people to talk, and that’s also what Movember is trying to do. It’s all about creating a safe space where men feel that they can talk about their issues and receive help.
There is that social stigma of ‘you’re a man: deal with it’ or ‘get over it’ and that shouldn’t be case. Men should be encaged to speak up if they’re struggling, and that’s something that I try to demonstrate in my streams. I don’t hold back. If I’ve had a bad day, I’ll talk about it. My Twitch platform has a community of likeminded people who share similar situations and get information about services which they otherwise wouldn’t know about. Movmeber does this as well, and also allows people to financially support men’s health initiatives through donations.
GC: Can you tell us about the type of feedback you’ve received to your honesty on-steam?
Mcdowall: I’ve had a lot of people open up and talk about their struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies. Sometimes after I’ve finish streaming, I’ll have people contact me to say that they’ve going through some really difficult times. I communicate with them and give them information about different outlets which can help them with specific issues.
GC: There are lots of different ways to get involved and one of them is the November Video Game Project – what can you tell us about that?
WellPlayed and The Movemeber Foundation have teamed up to provide free access to the games Brawlhalla and Path of Exile. They will also provide download information, access to the discord channel and help you find a squad. Click here to register. All participants will receive a free valve key.
Date: Sunday 25th 2018
Time: 2pm – 4pm (AEST) Don’t forget to adjust for daylight savings.
Location: Online or in-person at QUT eSports Arena in Brisbane.
McDowall: I’ve worked closely with Dr Daniel Johnson who leads the games Research and Interaction Design Lab at Queensland University of Technology to create something to get people socially integrated. If there are people who are feeling isolated, perhaps they’ve moved cities or live in a remote area, and they’re finding it difficult to make new friends, the Movember Video game Challenge gives them the opportunity to reach out to likeminded individuals. This can be the first step to forming new, long lasting social networks.
McDowall will be streaming his involvement in the November Video Game Challenge via his Twitch channel.
GC: Can you share some Movember Success stories with us?
McDowall: One of the biggest success stories within my community is that at the start of this year, I set the overly ambitious task of trying to raise $10 000 for Movember, and we reached that target in September. So, I’ve set a new target of trying to raise $5 000 this November. It’s another overly ambitious target and I don’t know if we’ll get there but the charity aspect has highlighted men’s health once again and given people the opportunity to open up about their own experiences.
GC: I imagine it must heart-warming to see so many people donating. This must send a positive message to individuals who are struggling. Hopefully it reinforces that they are cared for and that their health matters.
McDowall: Absolutely. It’s incredible to have a community that is so incredibly caring and giving. It blows me away to see how kind and generous people are.
GC: Outside the month of Movember, what else can we do year-round to support the men in our lives?
McDowall: The main thing would be to listen. I can tell you that originally, I was a very shy and introverted person. I wouldn’t necessarily talk about any of my issues so my wife prodded me to open up and now she can’t shut me up.
Listening is the key but it’s also important to not be judgmental or nonchalant when someone does speak about their problems. Some people (regardless of sex) find it difficult to open up and speak candidly so when they finally do, they last thing they want to hear is something dismissive. We can provide support by being open and willing to listen.
The other thing we can do is change the social stigma around men talking about their feelings. It has decreased in the last few years but there’s still a way to go. I think Movember is going a great job of addressing this so that’s why I decided to throw my support behind them.
GC: If a man does start having a serious conversion with you about their health, how can you best support them? What are the dos and don’ts of this conversation?
McDowall: Firstly, be compassionate and secondly, give them the possibility of seeking further help. Personally, I’m not qualified to deal with some of the real deep and heavy issues but I am an individual who cares about others.
If an issue is outside of your scope of expertise, say that. Say ‘I am empathetic to what’s going on but it’s beyond what I am able to deal with. Here are a list of people or organisations which can provide professional help.’ The good news is that there are organisations out there which are equipped to deal with the really deep and heavy issues so it’s about knowing your limits being compassionate and having the assets available to direct people to professional help.
GC: How do you spend your time outside of being a Movember Ambassador?
McDowall: I’m a fulltime Manager of an optical store so I do that for about 40 hours per week and then I Steam on Twitch for about 25 hours per week under the name RDiddyAU. I usually stream my gameplay of DayZ which is an open sandbox survival game. DayZ is about 90% of what I stream but today I’ll be playing The Forest with RageBruh who’s a great mate of mine. I’ve made a lot of really great friends through playing games and it’s a privilege to be able to jump into a Discord chat with them and talk for a few hours.
I played a little bit of Path of Exile last night to try to get used to it ahead of Sunday’s Movember Video Game Challenge.
GC: Do you think that being an internet celerity will become a viable career option in the future?
McDowall: I absolutely think that it’s possible to make a career out of streaming because I’ve seen it happen. I think it’s viable because everyone has a passion, and if for whatever reason, you’re unable to partake, then you watch. In that regard, there’s no difference between watching AFL or NRL and watching a streamer. Also, if you’re a gamer, watching streamers gives you another way to interact with that community. In terms of longevity, there are a lot of people in the US who are professional streamers already so I think it’s only a matter of time until that becomes the reality in Australia as well.
I have three golden rules when it comes to streaming. Firstly, you have to have the right hardware and software. People want to be able to hear you and watch the gameplay clearly so you have to have the right hardware and software to provide good quality content. It also helps if your content is entertaining.
Secondly, you should have a streaming schedule. People need to know when you’re going to be active so that they can tune in and engage with you.
Finally, you have to socially integrate yourself into the community that you’re trying to break into. For example, if you have a favourite streamer, make sure that you’re an active part of their community. You don’t just turn on your computer one day and start streaming a captive audience. It doesn’t work that way. You need to put the effort in day after day so that to visit other people’s channels and be a positive influence. That’s probably the hardest element but it’s the one that will get you recognised.
That being said, streaming isn’t for everyone. When I first started, I was very shy and I didn’t even have a face cam. I would stream my gameplay and realise that I had been quiet for too long so I would have to start talking about something. After a while, it became more natural and now I can talk for hours.
It’s just a matter of faking it until you make it as that old adage goes. You’ve just got to fake the confidence and bravado at first until it becomes natural. That attitude is what will encourage more people to return to your channel and have a chat.
For more information about men’s health and support services, please visit the organisations below.
The Movember Foundation provides information relating to testicular cancer, prostate cancer and men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
Men’s Health Australia provides news, events and resources for the wellbeing of men and boys.
Men’s Health Week raises the profile on men’s health issues, outcomes and needs.
Lifeline provides crisis help and suicide prention.