It’s 11:18 p.m. on a recent Tuesday night. It had been a busy day. He had put the finishing touches on an eight-page research paper and finalized a project with his professor. Then he tossed on his trusty red polo and proceeded to work an eight-hour shift at the local Hannaford. At this point most people would call that enough for one day. Yet for content creators, this is prime time to hop online and begin streaming.
His name is Matt Bathalon, a senior and full-time student at Castleton University, as well as a center store associate at the Rutland Hannaford supermarket.
At night though, he has an additional persona and even a different name. Bathalon is a content creator who streams video gameplay to a live audience on Twitch where he goes by the moniker JackalMRB.
“So, Twitch is an online live streaming platform owned by Amazon that I upload unique content that I create onto, “he said.
That content is in the form of video games that he livestreams as he is playing them.
“I try to stream at least four nights a week for anywhere between three to six hours,” he said.
On any given night on his channel, you can expect to find JackalMRB playing mostly a range of first-person shooter games like “Call of Duty,” “Overwatch” or “CS: GO” but a healthy dose of “Rocket League” and even virtual games of “UNO” are common as well.
Life has gotten flipped upside down for the majority of Americans with the fallout from the national pandemic that is upon us. This sudden shift has created a set of unique circumstances for Bathalon as well.
He is part of the 2020 graduating class that loses its graduation. He will still get his diploma as a marketing and management dual major, albeit mailed to him. Additionally, his job has seen some changes as supermarkets have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You heard about it in the news a bit but then it really all of a sudden hit us. I really first noticed the implications when I got into work one day and I saw the entire paper towel / toilet paper aisle was completely cleared out. That’s when I knew this was real” he said.
As things have intensified and the government has stepped in to try and mitigate the spread of infection by ordering people to stay home, Bathalon is one of the few people who are permitted to continue working as he was deemed an essential employee.
“I was actually given a letter from the vice president of Hannaford, which states I am essential to operations, that I am supposed to show to the police if I am stopped on my way into work,” he said.
Supermarkets have been at the epicenter of this crisis as people have reacted by aggressively panic buying supplies.
“Early on, a lot more people started shopping and stocking up and the demand went up as the supply stagnated,” he said.
Then, as the situation has continued, people continued to stockpile supplies, panic buying out of fear of shortages, yet their actions are what caused these shortages.
“As the demand stayed high and supplies on certain products have not been built back up, there have been instances where the store has instituted a two-per-customer policy for certain goods. For example, meats are still pretty wiped out and a lot of non-perishable goods like canned soup, paper products and cleaning supplies… oh also veggies are getting pretty low at the moment,” he said.
Melissa Bathalon, like any mother would be, is worried about her son working and being in contact with people during this time of crisis.
“It’s a little scary but at the same time we need people to do it. He’s helping other people this way” she said.
The store is taking special precautions to protect its employees and customers by closing three hours early each night to give time for deep cleans. They also are compensating their essential employees who come in and work during the pandemic with an additional $1 an hour pay bump for working during this national emergency. Hannaford is even opening an hour early on Tuesdays through Thursdays specifically dedicating that time for customers 60 and over or those that are at a high risk of infection to shop before others enter the store.
After doing his part in keeping the wheels of the U.S. economic system turning, Bathalon heads home down the eerily empty streets and towards his gaming room to get ready for another night of streaming.
Avid JackalMRB watcher Matthew Snow known as Snowball15000 on Twitch said
“Video games are a way for me and Matt to stay in contact and still hang out together and connect even while we may be hundreds of miles away from each other. He’s built a great community of friends and it’s a place we can all get together still, even with everything going on and all of us being separated.”
This streaming business isn’t something he has just started either.
“My first stream was Christmas eve 2017 so I’ve been streaming regularly for around two and half years,” he said.
Bathalon streams on a PC setup with three monitors. This isn’t just fun for him, it’s a lifestyle and a profitable business.
“I have invested upwards of four grand into hardware between my PC, a gaming mouse, two consoles, the three monitors and high grade studio quality microphone. Oh and I recently upgraded my headset and got an audio mixer,” he said.
He looks at these purchases as an investment into his business and brand. As an affiliate of Twitch, he is able to actually create revenue from streaming his games.
“Being a part of the Twitch affiliate program enables me to gain support from my followers and the community that I have grown in the form of donations and subscribers to my channel,” he explained.
He even has his own merchandise with Jackal logos that his community can purchase to support and represent the channel.
Roger Bathalon, Bathalon’s father, said he supports his sons gaming pursuits.
“It definitely better than running the streets at night like we did when I was his age, at least this way we know where Matt is at night” he joked.
With a large part of the population relegated to their houses these days, people have turned to virtual worlds as an escape. They enter into a different reality where there isn’t anything wrong in the world right now and they can spend time with friends carefree.
“It’s a way for me to still stay in contact with my friends and make sure they are doing all right. A way for us to still all hang out together as things in the outside world have become increasingly hectic lately,” Bathalon said softly.