When I look at CodeMiko, I think a lot about unreality – but not for the obvious reasons. While Miko is a virtual creation, a punkish motion-captured digital avatar with an ability to execute her personality, I find myself more interested in her performance itself; she’s just magnetic and I’m not sure I can describe why.
I could tell you that her streams are a combination of interviews with big name streamers, fiddling with movie recording software and bizarre interactions with chat. I could mention that Miko’s channel since the beginning in March last year has gathered 640,000 followers, and that she now streams to more than 7,000 viewers at any time she is live. But I̵
Behind CodeMiko is a real human being – named not Miko, but who apparently prefers to be called Miko – who plays a character referred to as The Technician in the fiction of the current. The technician keeps Miko’s hardware running, and it’s her I reached over video chat the other day to talk about the character’s appeal.
“Miko is a failed video game character. Her dream is that she wants to be in a triple-A video game, but she is so tired and slippery that she could not do it, “says The Technician, who is also Miko. “So she started trying to do Twitch streaming instead.” Miko The Technician describes Miko the virtual streamer as one that fits the classic archetype of the weary Hollywood actor – someone who just wants to be in a movie, any movie, except in Miko’s case, it’s literally any game. (Heads up, game devs.) “She’s a kind of NPC,” says Miko (The Technician).
I should stop here for a moment to notice that yes, I profile a virtual creation – a streamer that technically does not exist, at least not in our meat area. Although she is not alone in not existing and creating content nonetheless. Now you may have heard of Miko’s colleagues, vtubers – “virtual YouTubers”, a term that is now a catchphrase for a hugely popular segment of online entertainers who use digital prosthetics to hide their face and body. Miko is not a real vtuber, I do not think, because the man behind it all is widely known and regularly shows his face on camera. I am aware that this distinction can be considered as splitting hair.
Anyway, at this point, CodeMiko’s reputation is starting to take precedence over her, at least on Twitch. In the early days, technician-Miko wanted to do everything, in his own words – all the design, programming, admin and marketing work that involves being a full-time virtual streamer. “When I did it by myself, I had a very strict plan to sleep around 9pm, wake up at 2am, and then wake up until 12pm,” Miko says of the first few days. “And at 12.30 I will stream and stream until 5 or 6.” And she used to do that every single day.
Now, however, she has hired a team, and her schedule is different. Having thousands of simultaneous viewers in one stream will change the life of a streamer, if not necessarily their priorities. These days, Miko’s attention is divided, she says, in a million different ways, and she manages and supervises her accounts when she’s not streaming. It was, of course, a consequence of how fast Miko grew on Twitch. “I think I went from about 200 to 10,000 viewers in a couple of weeks,” she says. The growth came from a single viral tweet posted in late November, which featured a side-by-side video of streamer Miko and Technician-Miko. “That kind of tweet went viral, and it increased me to my first 1,000 viewers,” she says.
And that was when things took off. Her clips began circulating on r / LivestreamFail, which acts as a sort of archive for Twitch drama; bigger streamers would see them there and then raid her, and then they interviewed them in their show. It was a good cycle that catapulted Miko into the Twitch star, which is also clear it has not been fully addressed yet.
“When I was like 200, 300 viewers, I was like ‘When I hit 1000 viewers, that’s going to be my goal, and it’s going to feel so good. And I will be as good, “she says. “But I hit 1000. And then the next day I hit 2000. And the next day I hit 3000.” She tells me she feels grateful and that it’s great. But it is only now, a few months since she was thrown into the spotlight, that she seems to agree with the idea of being a prominent person on Twitch.
It makes sense; no blows this fast on Twitch. Miko started her streaming career because she was fired from the animation studio she worked at just after she moved to Los Angeles in March last year – which, as you remember, also happened to be the first days of the pandemic in America. She had to continue paying $ 2,000 a month lease in LA, which would not be up for almost an entire year. “And I thought you know what would be good to do right now is not to try to look for work,” she says. “Let me put down 20 grand and try to make it on Twitch.”
And that was exactly what she did. “My suit was around 12 to 13 thousand. And then I had my computer, my iPhone camera, my helmet, and then also my software subscriptions. But the mocap software subscription is actually also very expensive, she says. She put the $ 20,000 investment on her credit card. “I told myself I did not have a backup. Because if I had a backup, I would give up, she says. “If I do not have a backup, you must do so.”
The technician will soon receive a new MOCAP SUIT that will allow her to urinate whenever she wants. thank God
– Miko (@thecodemiko) April 6, 2021
And Miko has. She has built a world around herself filled with fascinating characters and extremely editable moments. She has been temporarily banned from Twitch a couple of times before – as she, when I talk to her, does not seem very stressed, even though her livelihood has always been on the line. As Nathan Grayson reports at 6 p.m. Kotaku, Miko’s ban so far has apparently been for small slip-ups that break with the letter – if not the spirit – in Twitch’s TOS. (Like the time she made viewers pay to send her “D-pictures”, which were literally pictures of the letter “D” to be displayed on her phone. Twitch didn’t seem to think the joke was funny.) “Prohibition makes IP more interesting, says Miko and laughs. “[It] gives a little color. ”
No matter what happens, it’s clear that Miko – the streamer or The Technician – is here to stay. And she also plans new things that the chat can try. “I try to make as one GTA Carpool Karaoke on crack. I get the guests, we drive in a car, “she says. “And we’ll go through town and try to get to our destination, while the chat blocks the way with different things.”
When I chat with her, I get a clear impression that Miko – no matter which Miko you prefer to imagine – has an inexhaustible well of ideas for his channel. It’s like talking to someone at a party in the morning, when the world feels a little shaky, in just the right way. It just works, but says that obscures how much effort goes into her channel. A successful show is about finding what works for an audience, and Miko is dedicated to trying everything she thinks can delight fans.
“I have to make it, and if it works, keep it,” she says. “If that’s not working, throw it away.”