We suppose there’s an invisible tie between Hex’s handle and the actual hex gaming and entertaining cast upon her. Though we’ll lean more towards serendipity than dark and cool replacing the “lame” handles she’d used before getting the call-up to the super-popular ABC gaming series, Good Game.
“I was really obsessed with the idea of magic as a teen. I went through a bit of an occult phase [where] I read a lot of fantasy,” Steph reveals. “I liked the idea of a ‘hex’ being a curse, or a dark spell that was powerful and ominous. On Good Game, hosts used gamertags as opposed to their real names, and “Hex” was probably the least lame of the regular handles I used.”
A chance meeting with the show’s other popular host, Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell, might not have happened...
That serendipity can also be sat alongside “right time, right place” in the instance that saw the now Red Bull Ambassador carving out her space as a gaming celebrity on Good Game, as a chance meeting with the show’s other popular host, Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell, might not have happened had that hex not pushed her to speak to Bajo in the first place -- a sliding doors moment, as Steph recalls.
“I totally have that moment,” she enthuses. “I was putting together a TV presenting audition video and I decided to film part of it at Supanova (pop culture convention), since it represented me and the stuff I was into. I ran into Bajo, there. I literally approached him as a fan (I loved and watched Good Game long before I was on it) and we got chatting about games. It was then I learned they were expanding their team and so I sent some game reviews to the show’s producer.
“I almost chickened out and never spoke to him, though.”
What’s funnier about that is the idea that Hex might ever be afraid to approach something. Her attitude towards work on and behind the camera, with a pen in hand or a controller or WASD at her fingertips shows us someone with drive and passion for the world(s) she loves. But when talking about having a platform of influence, we see a less authoritative side to Steph, and one more rooted in good humour, humility and just being herself.
Anyone can build a following in today’s world -- there’s nothing special about someone with ‘influence’...
“Anyone can build a following in today’s world -- there’s nothing special about someone with ‘influence’, Steph tells us when we ask about how she feels about being a “person of influence”. “It’s just about being as transparent as possible. For me I think it’s about personality first. And if you’re using your platform to represent brands you align yourself with, you need to make sure you’re equally using that same platform to promote positivity, a realistic view of what your life is, your passions, your beliefs and important causes you want to champion. Otherwise you’re just a glorified billboard.”
Working within such a framework in this industry is a tightrope, especially with the speed and gravity of growth around the ‘influencer’ angle. It’s not something lost on Steph though, who also has plenty of options beyond gaming, and a reach that isn’t ‘flash-in-the-pan”, so to speak. But it’s also largely because her journey into games was fraught with hurdles that started at the family base, manifested at school and led to an intriguing intervention at a young age.
“My dad still doesn’t fully understand what I do, really, and when I try to explain it to him he doesn’t seem particularly impressed by it,” Steph says. “Growing up my parents saw videogames as evil ‘time wasters’ so I didn’t have consoles or anything. I found my own way into games via MUDs (multi-user dungeons) and such when I got my first PC.
I was banned from using the computer and they sent me to counseling for videogame addiction...
“[So] I got into MUDs in high school because they were entirely text-based RPGs, and my parents didn’t catch onto the fact that it was actually a game I was playing,” Steph adds. “I got super into it. I played it literally every moment I could, it was like I was living a whole other life. I ended up getting a few girls at school into it as well, and we’d play at lunch times in the computer labs, role-playing these alter-ego characters in a fantasy world. Often I’d play all night after my parents had gone to sleep because I was playing with people in the US -- and then I’d pass out at school from exhaustion.
“In the end, the school contacted my parents and told them everything, I was banned from using the computer and they sent me to counseling for videogame addiction. Whoops. I’m still in touch with those people today, though. We like to reminisce sometimes.”
It’s hard to think of someone whose life revolves so heavily around games, gaming and geek culture having such a hard swing at it early, but given it’s now her bread and butter, Steph gets the last laugh, or chuckle, adding that while not entirely on board with her career choice, her dad is “happy I’m able to support myself”.
And so, what keeps her going and happy in this geek-addled lifestyle?
“It’s a cliché, but it’s absolutely the community,” Hex concludes. “It feels like we’ve carved out a place for like-minded souls on the Internet that’s wholesome and wonderful. It’s creative, meaningful, ever-evolving -- I’ve made life-long friendships with people through games and the shows we’ve made. And this industry is constantly changing, it never feels stagnant to me.”
The Important Stuff
And for the need-to-knows out there, here’s Steph’s Top Five Games across all genres, generations and platforms (in no particular order):
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (and expansions)
- The Last of Us Part II
- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
- Destiny 2
- Assassin’s Creed II/Black Flag/Valhalla (oh help I can’t choose from these!)