More Than Just A Stream - How Reckful Helped Me
Byron “Reckful” Bernstein was a former World of Warcraft pro and Twitch streamer. He was a man respected by not just his community, but by the Twitch and gaming community as a whole. Streamers, viewers, game developers and more all knew Reckful. The impact he left on World of Warcraft, Twitch, and gaming will reverberate for years.
During his career as a professional World of Warcraft player, he reached numerous heights that at the time felt impossible to reach. A Rank 1 World of Warcraft Arena superstar - reaching that status in six consecutive seasons - multiple top-three finishes at Major League Gaming events throughout 2009 and a first-place finish at MLG Washington, D.C. in late 2010. This made him a World of Warcraft legend.
This competitive success in the popular Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplay Game (MMORPG) gave him the go-ahead, the foot in the door to become a successful Twitch streamer.
Post World of Warcraft career, after his permanent ban from the game, Reckful went on to become one of the most innovative streamers in Twitch history. An IRL streamer before the category was even in place: his Japan trip, the Pokemon Go craze and many more come to mind. This opened up possibilities to a site that was previously thought to be “gaming exclusive”. Slowly but surely, other of his compatriots and peers began seeing the benefits and the genuine joy of IRL streams. Not everyone gets to travel to luxurious places or places that are across the globe, but this is one way for viewers to experience even a crumb of that.
Reckful had been a streamer for a long time, he was considered an OG of the site. There was one particular thing that helped him get over the hump from “low viewership” to a viewer count that at the time was an abnormality for the World of Warcraft category.
Apart from popular streamer Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris, Reckful was the World of Warcraft streamer to watch. All of this was possible due to World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria. During Mists of Pandaria, Reckful streamed high-level arena gameplay, often making plays that, once again, at the time, could be considered unheard of. Be it his mainstay Warrior, Anticide, or his alt characters such as his Shadow Priest and Death Knight, one thing was for certain, Reckful was good, and he was entertaining.
I became a fan of Reckful once Mists of Pandaria released, I would watch countless hours upon hours of his arena matches. Although I was often staying up through the nights just to go to school extremely sleep-deprived, it was all worth it.
At the time, I was a 15-year-old kid who was experiencing some of the most life-changing events of his life. I had three events in my life all happen at the same time, and they all shaped and moulded me into who I am today. Reckful’s elongated streams gave me something to look forward to every day. Seemingly endless hours of high arena gameplay, his fun interaction between his own teammates and his own chat, or his famous “what 1 billion dollars look like” explanation, you name it — I appreciated all of it, and will forever cherish it.
Past Mists of Pandaria, a Warlords of Draenor release and a permanent ban from the game that gave him his name, I grew apart from his streams and content. In my eyes, his content just wasn’t for me any more, and that’s completely okay, I still appreciate what he inadvertently did for me with his World of Warcraft streams. His content began to change and evolve, IRL streams became a part of him, late-night talks with his chat became a thing and even variety came into the mix. And as a person who was now watching from the outside, as I no longer was actively watching him, I noticed what I’m sure many others did too. He became more open with his mental health struggles.
Reckful discussed mental health issues back when it was taboo, back before everyone had more eyes and comfortability in talking about it. And to his dismay, he was often ridiculed for it. It’s no secret that streamers are receivers of frequent harassment, things like death threats, insults, you name it — they have to take it. But in Reckful’s case, seemingly more than anyone else on the platform, it was more vicious and in a sense; straight-up vindictive. These were heinous words that were filled with vitriol thrown at him. His mental health was often a target… and it continued to be until the end.
Although I stopped consuming his content after Mists of Pandaria ended, the amount of love, respect and admiration I had for this man I never met was and is insurmountable. He didn’t even know me, and I didn’t get to meet him, but knowing that fact, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would have been.