I reached out to several people in the Smite community through Reddit for interviews, and one of the few to quickly answer back was DMBrandon. He was happy to speak with me, and thankfully willing to give up enough time to do it while my kids were still my primary focus. I’ve enjoyed Brandon’s casting of the EU weekly, but mostly I know of him by reputation. He seems to be the kind of person that inspires either fanatical devotion or a festering hatred, so I was excited to learn what he was really like on a personal level. It’s just after nine in the morning, and he looks tired.
Good morning! Thanks for doing this, and I apologize in advance for all the coming interruptions. You look tired, do you want to do this later?
I’ve been streaming since like 4 am, but it’s cool. We can do this now, and no worry about stopping for the kids.
Let’s start with the usual then. I assume your name IS Brandon – How old are you?
It’d be funny if my name wasn’t Brandon, but yeah, it is. I’m old… like 230 according to Bart.
I tell him that I’m 32 in the hopes he’ll fess up to an age, but he just tells me that I’m old too. I’m going to hazard a guess that he’s in his mid twenties, probably around 26.
And how tall are you? I’ve yet to talk to a man in Smite that isn’t a giant.
I’m excited to meet someone of average height, but he doesn’t seem to agree.
I’d rather be short than normal or average – I think there are stigmas against that.
I laugh at the embedded deeper meaning in his response, and he smiles like he’s happy someone else gets it.
Ever been married?
Marriage scares me you’re basically betting someone half stuff that you’ll love them forever. I have a girlfriend though. We’ve been together for 6 years now and live together.
We sectioned off a part of our apartment, and it’s the bunny’s room. His name is Clover, but we just call him the Bun.
I thought that was ironic given Chang’e’s bunny causing him so much fury in the 3v3 tournament.
What do you do for school/work?
I was third in my class in high school. I got a full scholarship to Princeton.
He pauses for a second here, and I can tell from the look on his face this isn’t something he likes to talk much about. With how cocky he can seem in the community, he didn’t seem boastful about getting to go to an Ivy League school.
Then, about 2 months into my freshman year, I got sick and was advised to take a medical leave from school. I did, and it caused my scholarships to be taxed at a crazy level, so I had to leave.
What were you studying?
I was studying English. Like everyone else that goes to college. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to take foreign language in high school, so I took triple English. I liked literature and kept with it… but I’m lazy and that doesn’t work well with writing – I had a creative writing focus.
Do you mind my asking, what were you sick with?
I really don’t like talking about it, because I don’t want people to pity me or treat me different because of it. I had two bouts of completely unrelated cancer. Full Chemo to treat one and spot radiation for the other.
I did ask what types, and we did talk about it a bit. I understand why it’s something he would rather not talk about publicly, and I hope the community doesn’t try to pick at him for more information about it.
Where are you from?
He’s smiling and seems to be in good humor now that I’m changing the subject.
New Jersey, although sometimes I use a British accent to try and make people think I’m English. I never lie though, I still tell them I’m from New Jersey.
What do you do for work or a living now?
I create content and play video games. It’s actually pretty cool.
How did you get into Smite and streaming for Hirez?
I had been playing MOBAs like League of Legends, and I came from fighting games. It pissed me off that you couldn’t dodge anything. I loved World of Warcraft, and then started in the Smite beta. It was awesome because it combined Smite combined the game I loved (World of Warcraft) with a MOBA that let you dodge attacks like fighting games. I started out as a sub on Smitegame. I quit my full time job and when a regular opening came up, I took the spot. It’s really perfect because I go on 7-10 after Bart everyday and talk about how to abuse the current meta. I love it.
So what’s your favorite food?
Lamb, veal and fois gris. I’m a self proclaimed food snob.
I make a face at the fois gris, but we continue on that tangent and share our love of food for a few minutes. It turns out he loves juicing, and I can’t help but gush about our juicer and all the cool things we make with it.
Favorite color and why?
Orange – it’s angry but not too angry – not quite red, but certainly not yellow.
I know I’m jumping around topics, but do you plan on proposing to your girlfriend anytime soon?
She has to finish Final Fantasy VII before we can get engaged. She’s making good progress.
He laughs and you can tell it’s a good-natured relationship with equal poking at each other. Even though he’s tired, he’s smiling as he talks about her. You can tell he’s in love.
So why does the community seem to hate you or love you?
I think it’s because there were already established players and streamers when I came to Smite. I had been streaming League of Legends for months before this, but people got mad because I was posting my stream in the game lobby after matches. Most of them aren’t in the community anymore, but they were spreading rumors that I was cheating and such. Hirez had to come out and say that none of it was true it got so bad. Now it seems like the fans from those guys and the rumor from then feed it. When I speak I speak with authority – it’s not rehearsed but educated opinions, and when I speak some people don’t like how it comes off. I’m blunt. Most top players and streamers don’t post much unless it’s about promoting their streams and events. I want to be part of the community, and it makes it hard because people either want to agree or disagree with you. I think it is part of being highly visible and still trying to be an active participant in a community.
I tell him how I hate the way others speak to each other on Reddit, and that he and Matty seem to be the recent punching bags.
Yeah, Matty and I we fought a lot in game, but it was always contained to normal game rage. We get along great in real life and spend time talking and tweeting at each other. I think fans take/took some of that interaction in game the wrong way and that shows in how they talk about either of us.
So how do you get into doing something like this for a living?
It’s not just putting in the work like some say. You have to get lucky. Someone like Drybear who just started is doing amazing already, and it’s because he’s great, but also had the right timing. It’s like an acting gig. You need to fill a niche, and there has to be a need for you. There are really only 2 or 3 people who have the eye for the meta game and theory craft publicly. I mean lots of people do it but don’t’ want to share. You also have to have a good computer, and then really make sure that what you’re doing is unique.
Who is your favorite god to play and why?
Archane. Because she’s a single mom, trying to do right by her babies…
He’s smiling and laughing, and I’m really enjoying his sense of humor. My daughter, ironically, chooses this moment to run up and ask for the potty. We take a break so I can take her.
I love her because nobody really understands her. She’s so difficult to play because her role changes mid game. She goes from assassin to bruiser to tank by the end of the game. Odin and Hel have similar feels, but she has the most transformation in the way you play her, and I think that’s amazing.
What do you think about the ddosing in the EU tourneys?
HiRez is doing research into it. I can’t say too much though. We’re doing what we can to help the players. Someone is maliciously doing this, and we want to do it for the sake of the community. People feel like it’s Hirez fault or a player’s for not protecting themselves, but major corporations have the same issue even with millions of dollars on protections. We had no disconnects last week, and we want to keep having that happen. As casters, we have to keep casting, even knowing what likely has happened. It sucks, but we can’t just stop and spend a lot of time talking about it during a match.
Anything else you want to share before you go?
Yeah, a little bit more about what we were talking about with the community. It’s awesome that people love watching all the streamers for Smite, but I hope people don’t take everything we take as gospel. Support your thoughts on meta with your own evidence and opinion. Be a fan, I’m a fan of Lassiz, but watch him for his game play and not for just talking in the chat. Don’t always agree with everything a pro says just because you like them.
So like I always told my students, “You don’t have to think like me, but you must think!”?
We wrap up here so I can take the kids out to the park as I’ve promised. I like Brandon. I was worried coming into the interview that he’d be at least something like the reputation he seemed to have earned. It turns out that Brandon is sarcastic and funny. He was polite and happy to talk about anything I asked about, and he’s made himself available to speak to again in the future. It turns out that the guy everyone seems to love to hate is awesome. People must just not always get his humor. I really hope I get the chance to meet him one day and talk to him more extensively.