After more than a year of setbacks, ordeals and literal tears, one Facebook Gaming Creator has achieved a milestone that cements his status as a streamer to be taken seriously (ironically, he emphasises on “fun” while streaming).
Celebrating 400k followership on Facebook Gaming (to be exact, 418k as of 22 May), Shibashis “Shiba” Biswas – more popularly known by his page name The Tharki Assassins – was quick to notify this writer the moment he reached an all-new high with his fan base, a testament to the pride he deservedly has for his newfound success. After all, he started streaming with an ancient yet surprisingly functional PC, the kind used in the ‘90s when dial-up Internet and MSN Messenger were common.
Kicking it off old school
“I had 2GB RAM, no graphics card, plus a CRT monitor to work with,” Shiba recalled, explaining that his monitor was a bulky and box-shaped relic of the past. To the Indian streamer’s fortune, he was still able to stream the emulator version of PUBG Mobile when the battle royale game was gaining prominence in the local Facebook Gaming scene, albeit without any audio equipment. Determined to improve his set-up, Shiba bought his first webcam and headphones by saving his lunch money for two months, so he either starved or ate his friends’ leftover food. “That was the beginning of my struggles,” he said with a laugh, the kind where you relive past hardships with a grateful smile.
While waiting to be officiated as a Facebook Gaming partner (more info about the program here) early last year, Shiba’s ancient monitor chose the perfect time to break down and stop working. And to make matters worse, he didn’t have anyone he could borrow a display from. “I thought (my streaming career) was over and cried for days because I couldn’t stream without a monitor.” When all hope was thought to be lost, the unexpected happened.
According to Shiba’s experience, the majority of the older generation in India remain sceptics of gaming, including his parents who chided him for spending too much time with his hobby. “They even locked the door to my room – which had my PC – when I was playing too much,” the microbiologist graduate recalled, adding that he did well for his academics nonetheless.
After Shiba’s CRT monitor croaked and the streamer was still wallowing in misery, his father noticed and did something astonishing. “I don’t know what got to my dad, but he suddenly got me a new monitor the next day. It was a strange but huge turning point in my life,” recalled the Assassin’s Creed II fan. “If my dad didn’t buy me a monitor, I wouldn’t have gotten here and pursued other prospects.”
Shiba may be a streamer by profession, but he refuses to be defined by a single label. Aside from streaming, the Kolkata-born gamer has been an avid supporter of the local esports scene ever since he started volunteering for video game community functions like GamerConnect during his final years of college. This led to him becoming a reputable influencer in the local esports circle, even organising pop-up events and building relationships with key players in the industry, including NVIDIA and Discord.
On top of his full-time streaming career, he serves as Bait Esports’ coach and manager. “I’m focused on managing esports teams to help them grow as players. I groom them to be more professional in their presentation and attitude, and to help them find sponsorships with the connections I have from my volunteering days.” Shiba was also in the midst of preparing a PUBG Mobile bootcamp for budding pro players who wanted to improve their soft skills before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“I want to spread the awareness that gaming can be a good pursuit,” Shiba revealed, explaining his sheer determination in living and breathing video games. “If it makes you happy, you can make something out of it.” As a professional gamer without the support of his mother (his father grew to accept it) – he believes it’s the story of most Indians, both fans and workers, in the gaming industry: parents who scowl at their endeavours.
“Family support is currently the biggest obstacle for pro gamers,” and thus why he’s aiming to change that with his pursuits.
All in good fun
But, don’t the nobility of his actions fool you – true to his page name The Tharki Assassins (according to him, tharki means “naughty”), Shiba is one mischievous jokester who loves interacting with his viewers while streaming PUBG Mobile, GTA V, Call of Duty, MotoGP and other games. “I like knowing about their days and checking in on them, especially with the lockdown going on.” He sees his fan base as one big family, reflected in the plural implication of his page name. It also used to be the name of his team in producing short films on YouTube before they disbanded; he kept it because it strongly represented his personality.
Despite his barrage of playful jabs on camera, Shiba feels there’s a lot of negativity going around in the world and is combating it with as much positivity as possible. “With COVID-19, I think I have more responsibility now than ever as a streamer,” he confessed, saying that his viewers would try to break away from all the tension in the real world by watching his funny antics.
Even though he’s had his fair share of negative comments from some bad apples, he tries his best to empathise and treat them like friends – fortunately, this attitude has been working in his favour, with the naysayers dropping their pitchforks. “We should always be loving and caring to the toxic ones. They may be facing a lot of hardships in their life and didn’t get the love or care they crave, causing them to act this way.”
The present world needs more frontliners and people like Tharki Assassins. To continue his role in battling the COVID-19 global crisis, not only has Shiba contacted local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out fundraiser streams, but he’s also using his online influence to spread true news – plus memes to raise morale – via his postings and streams. “This is the best that I can do for now, but at least I feel like I’m helping the world.”