When I see CodeMiko, I think a lot about unreality – but not for 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 the very nature of her performance; 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 motion capture software and bizarre interactions with chat. I could mention that Miko’s channel since her launch 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 I am not convinced that any of it contains the true character of her gonzo appeal. What I is sure is that Miko has come to stay, and whatever it is, she is transforming the Twitch landscape into her image ̵
Behind CodeMiko is a real human being – whose name is does not Miko, but who apparently prefers to be called Miko – who plays a character called The Technician in fiction of stream. The technician keeps Miko’s hardware running, and it’s her I reached beyond 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 disappointed and glitchy that she could not, ”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 someone who fits the classic archetype of the struggling Hollywood actress – 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 for a moment here to note that yes, I profile a virtual creation – a streamer that technically does not exist, at least not in our meat sector. Although she is not alone in not existing and yet creating content. By now, you may have heard of Miko’s counterparts, vtubers – “virtual YouTubers”, a term that is now a catch for a hugely popular segment of online entertainers who use digital prosthetics to disguise their faces and bodies. Miko is not a real vtuber, I do not think, because the man behind it all is commonly 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 her own words – all the design, programming, admin and marketing work that goes into being a full-time virtual streamer. “When I did it alone, I had a very strict schedule of sleeping around 9pm, waking up at 2am and then hovering until just like 12pm,” Miko says of the early days. “And at 12.30 I stream, and I stream to 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 a stream will change a streamer’s life, if not necessarily their priorities. These days, Miko’s attention is divided, she says in a million different ways, and she mostly manages and monitors her accounts when she’s not streaming. That, of course, was a consequence of how fast Miko was growing on Twitch. “I think I went from 200 to 10,000 viewers in a couple of weeks,” she says. The growth came from a single viral tweet, published in late November, which featured a side-by-side video of streamer Miko and Technician-Miko. “This tweet went kind of viral and it boosted me up to my first 1,000 viewers,” she says.
And that was when things picked up speed. Her clips began circulating on r / LivestreamFail, which acts as a kind of repository for Twitch drama; bigger streamers would see them there and then plunder her, and then she interviewed them in her show. It was a virtuous cycle that catapulted Miko into the Twitch star, which is also something it is clear she has not yet fully addressed.
“When I was like 200, 300 viewers, I was like ‘When I hit 1,000 viewers, it will be my goal and it will feel so good. And I will be just as good, ‘”she says. “But I hit 1,000. And then the next day I hit 2,000. And the next day I hit 3,000. “She tells me she’s grateful and that’s great. But it is only now, a few months since she was thrown into the spotlight, that she seems to be in line with the idea of being a prominent person on Twitch.
It makes sense; none blows this up fast on Twitch. Miko started her streaming career because she was fired from the animation studio she worked in just after moving to Los Angeles last March – which, as you recall, also happened to be the first days of the pandemic in America. She had to continue paying her $ 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 the good thing to do right now is not try to look for work,” she says. “Let me put 20 grand down and try to do it on Twitch.”
And that was exactly what she did. “My suit was about 12 to 13k. 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, do so.”
The technician will soon get a new MOCAP SUIT that allows her to PEE whenever she wants. thank God
– Miko (@thecodemiko) April 6, 2021
And Miko has done that. She has built a world around herself filled with fascinating characters and extremely editable moments. She has been temporarily banned from Twitch a few times before – which, when I talk to her, she does not seem very stressed, even though her livelihood has been on the field every time. As Nathan Grayson reports at 6 p.m. Kotaku, Miko’s ban so far has apparently been for small slip-ups that violate the letter – if not the spirit – of Twitch’s TOS. (Like the time she let her viewers pay to send her “D-pictures”, which were literally pictures of the letter “D” that would show up on her phone. Twitch didn’t seem to find the joke funny.) “Prohibition does your IP more interesting, ”says Miko and laughs.[It] gives a little bit of color. ”
Whatever happens, it’s clear that Miko – the streamer or The Technician – is here to stay. And she’s also planning new things that chat can try. “I try to do as one GTA Carpool Karaoke on crack. I get the guests, we drive in a car, ”she says. “And we have to go through the city and try to get to our destination while chat blocks the way with different things.”
When I chat with her, I get the clear impression that Miko – whatever Miko you prefer to imagine – has an inexhaustible well of ideas for her channel. It’s like talking to someone for a party in the wee hours of the morning when the world feels slightly tilted the right way. It just works, even if it says that obscures how much effort goes into her channel. A successful show is about figuring out what works for an audience, and Miko is dedicated to trying everything she believes can delight her fans.
“I can handle it, and if it works, keep it,” she says. “If it does not work, throw it away.”