In the streaming games community there’s no challenge quite like the 24-hour long “marathon stream.” In this installment of our Meet the Marathon Streamer series, we’re chatting with Kenji “Numot the Nummy” Egashira, a pro Magic streamer with over 48,000 followers.
We wanted to know how Kenji stays energized while streaming for so long, so we spoke to him about staying healthy (both mentally and physically) while grinding out a marathon, how he got into the game, and what it’s like to hit the dreaded “hour 15” of a day-long stream.
Studio@Gizmodo: How did you first get into streaming?
Kenji Egashira: It was probably around 2009, 2010, when it was still Justin.tv as the big streaming platform, and I started watching these people and said, “You know what? I think I can do this. Maybe even better, and in a more entertaining style.”
How did you toy with the idea of these massive, marathon 24-hour streams?
For the specific game I play, Magic: The Gathering, they come out with a new set of cards basically every three or four months. Whenever they release these new cards I want to grind it super-hard, be the first person streaming it. So every time they hit I would do these 24-hour streams for them.
Is it hard to stream a one-on-one competitive game, like Magic?
Absolutely. You have to be sharp at all times because Magic is very strategic. I often compare it to the chess of card games.
Magic is also an extremely popular physical collectible card game. Did you play with physical cards before you got into the game digitally?
My cousin introduced me to the game in paper form when I was about 10 years old. So for the first large portion of my life I played nothing but paper. It wasn’t anywhere near the competitive level I play now, because nowadays I travel all around the country playing in tournaments. But aside from when I play person-to-person in those large tournaments it’s almost exclusively Magic Online.
Five Ways to Successfully Manage a Marathon Stream
1. Get plenty of sleep the night before.
2. Stay sharp with coffee, all manner of food, and lots of water.
3. Keep Twitch chat (and yourself) engaged by asking them what actions they would take in a certain situation.
4. Don’t be afraid to get a silly (especially during hours 15 to 20 of a marathon stream, when your brain is likely to be mush anyway).
5. Stock up on Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ AA batteries. As the #1 longest-lasting AA battery, you won’t have to worry about your gear dying mid-stream.
When new cards are about to release, and you set out to do a marathon stream, what does that prep look like? How early are you preparing for it?
I’ve probably done over 20 24-hour streams at this point. When I first started doing the 24-hour streams I didn’t have a regimen, a schedule — I kind of just figured, “Oh, I’ll get up at this time and just… game 24 hours!” [Laughs.] That did not work well.
Now I generally get up around 6am my time, so I get up pretty early. I’ll make sure I’m prepped with coffee and all varieties of food and water. You need to stay pretty well-maintained, body and mind, just to get through these things.
In your opinion what are some of the keys to a healthy, safe marathon stream?
Make sure you got plenty of sleep the night before, make sure you’re not already down and out of it when you start. It’s all about maintaining your body and mind. By the end of it you’re going to be tired regardless, but you can offset that by making sure you’re eating every few hours, making sure you’re drinking plenty of water, a bathroom break here and there, as well as engaging your audience to keep your mind afloat.
What gear keeps you at the top of your streaming game?
I have two microphones and two monitors, one for the game and one for my Twitch chat so I can glance over every once in awhile and make sure everything’s running smoothly, and I can still read the chat while playing.
When you’re marathon-streaming it’s not like you’re just playing a game for 24 hours, you’re also a host for a chat room full of people. How do you keep it entertaining?
For Magic especially, it’s pretty easy because there’s tons of different gameplay, you’re constantly switching out different cards and getting into new positions. Every new iteration is new and complex. So keeping the chat engaged, asking them questions about what actions they’d take, really keeps their engagement alive.
Plus, you’ve got to do some sillier things, too. Every time a new person would subscribe to me I’d do a little dance for them and scream a little phrase just to keep things fresh.
What’s the hardest part about doing a marathon stream?
Continuing to be interactive. It’s very easy to just fall into the role, say, 12 hours in where you’re kind of just sitting there playing the game and you’re not interacting with the audience.
When’s the hardest part of a marathon stream?
Between hours 15 and 20. Once there I’m super-exhausted, my brain is mush, so for those next five hours it’s always a grind. Then, at hour 20, usually the second wind comes.
What are those last four hours like?
It’s kind of weird. The start of a marathon stream is generally low-key, things don’t get rowdy until the four-hour-plus mark. Then, like I mentioned, hour 15 is pretty tough, but then your second wind hits and you’re like, “OK guys, maybe I can go for another five hours! I’m not even tired anymore!”
What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in getting into marathon streaming?
Do your due diligence and your work beforehand. Make sure you’re not getting in over your head. It’s very, very easy to just think that you can go into it without any problems.
To watch Kenji in action, check out his Twitch channel. And if you want your gaming peripherals to maintain peak performance without fail during a marathon stream — or any gaming session, for that matter — be sure to power up with Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries.
Giaco Furino is a writer living and working in Brooklyn. He contributes frequently to The Creators Project, Tribeca Shortlist’s Outtake, Rhapsody magazine, and more.