Last week we launched a news series where we interview community streamers to find out more about their lives. You can check out the first entry where we interviewed Zizaran here. This week we spent some time talking to TarkeCat to find out more about the man behind the memes.

Hi Tarke, thank you for taking part in the interview! Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I'm Tarke! My real name is Jake. I'm 25 years old and I'm a Path of Exile streamer from England.

How long have you been streaming for? How did you get into it?

I have been streaming on and off since 2013. I stream mostly just Path of Exile but I didn't really start to become "known" until around the Perandus/Prophecy league era. I became known thanks to some build guides that in retrospect were truly terrible. I can also attribute my rise in notoriety to an unfortunate camera angle on a State of Exile guest appearance (I had some major aristocrate meets thumb aesthetic going on). I have been a full-time streamer, or part-time/casual by Ziz standards, since the Breach League. Aside from being perpetually tired I love it.

I first got into streaming and Path of Exile itself because of Kripparian. I had just been forced to take a year out of my University studies as a filthy art student due to some health complications after being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease which is a boring life-long autoimmune thingy. I spent roughly nine months bedridden in my old flat watching Kripp slowly, and I mean SLOWLY, grind his way through the early Path of Exile Closed Beta. It was amazing. Since I had no real commitments at the time, other than check ups at the hospital, I flipped my sleep to match Kripp's streaming schedule and I would happily watch 14 hours of Fellshrine farming and racing with the mumblebros (never forgetti) every day.

It took me about a month of watching Kripp's stream before I felt confident enough to actually play Path of Exile myself. My first character ended rather abruptly when I found out that picking a Shadow and taking all the claw nodes on the tree because claws are cool doesn't quite make a successful hardcore-viable build. However, after a month of rigorous study of early-beta builds I came to the conclusion that all it took to make a good build was Static Blows, Inner Force, Blood Magic, and the OP max res node in the Marauder's passive tree area that I can't remember the name of. Shortly after my insane discovery, I started streaming build-making on Twitch which was just me making trees for people who wanted to get into Path of Exile. I never streamed gameplay just online passive skill tree planners. I continued to stream build-making on Twitch for a few months before I sadly had to pack it all up and go back to University to finish my degree. It wasn't until the Perandus League that I was able to return to my loyal ten or so viewers who remembered me from way back when and some D3 streams, but we won't talk about that.

What can people expect from your stream? What kind of schedule do you follow?

While there is certainly a lot more gameplay than my early streams in 2013, my audience has come to accept the fact that roughly a third of each of my streams will involve some form of crude drawings in paint, watching Bob Ross or playing Hideout sims inbetween maps. So if you love Path of Exile and want an alternative to watching the Path of Exile end-game meta, you might want to check out the stream.

As far as a schedule goes, I operate around a very strict routine of sometimes sleeping for a period of time, eating for a bit while watching other streamers, and then starting up the stream myself. You know that weird dude that you always see in chat no matter what time of day it is or who the streamer is? Yeah I'm that guy if he found the 'go live' button on OBS.

You host a periodic podcast called 'Baeclast', can you tell us a bit about it?

Baeclast is a webshow/podcast where myself and Mr RaizQT sit down with a rotating cast of other Path of Exile streamers and sometimes Lead Developers (thanks again, Chris!). We have a relaxed pub-style chat concerning all things Path of Exile. It usually lasts anywhere from two to three hours. We like to cover a lot of ground and have a slight habit of going off topic. We stream each episode live on my Twitch channel and then upload the video in full onto my YouTube. We try and get an episode out roughly every two weeks but we often have to reshuffle the schedule to work around what's happening with the league, racing, announcements and cast availability etc.

What was your motivation to start the podcast?

I've always been a big advocate of making the kind of content that I myself would want to watch and at the time I started the podcast no one was really doing a regular more relaxed, off-the-cuff style of podcast. Sure, Path of Exile had had plenty of amazing podcasts such as State of Exile or Lioneye's Watch but they weren't exactly what I was after in terms of style and sadly they had both gone into retirement.

I had first planned on making a regular podcast alongside ItsYoji around the time the Perandus League was ending and the Prophecy League was starting. We actually recorded a pilot but thanks to a mix of my health taking a dive and my inexperience the episode wasn't released until many, many, months later. Around this time there was a big streamer and viewer community meetup in Berlin. Aside from it being an amazing opportunity to meetup with a bunch of people I had been fans of for years it was also a great excuse to make more group collaborative content. Some of the streamers at the event included ItsYoji, Zizaran, RaizQT, PressStartToPaws and some TarkeCat fella.

Now in my mind my plan was that I would somehow convince the others to put a few hours to the side, I would whip out my trusty camera and we would record a live webshow in a cafe or bar somewhere chatting about the state of Path of Exile over food and drinks. What actually happened is a weekend of everyone having far too much to drink, a vague drunken conversation between me and RaizQT in the bathroom of some random bar about the idea of starting a podcast, to the sounds of another certain streamer violently vomiting in a stall behind us.

Somehow my sales pitch worked and I have been running and organising Path of Exile's most relaxed and scuffed podcast with over a year's worth of episodes and hopefully at least another year of episodes to come.

What have been some highlights or positive experiences you've gained from doing this?

Running the actual backend of a regular podcast involves an awful lot of sending boring administrative style messages and waiting for replies to encroaching cast deadlines and problem solving mostly around last minute mystery tech disasters. While this may not sound like much fun and often causes way more stress than it should, it's a "buzz and energy" I had really missed from my University days and my years working on film sets.

Aside from the satisfaction I get from just running Baeclast itself, one of the highlights was getting Chris himself on the show and even comfortable enough that he let a few swear words slip out once or twice. It sounds stupid but it was surreal enough just having a lead developer on a podcast I had started from a spare room in my mum's house and for it to not feel like just another boring stilted press style interview made it extra memorable.

Do you have any thoughts about your plans for the future of the podcast?

As far as Baeclast is concerned, more of the same! Hopefully we will keep improving with time but it's really important to me to keep that slightly (alright, very!) scuffed atmosphere that is such a part of the shows identity.

Oh and maybe get that Bex person on at some point that everyone keeps nagging me about.

Is streaming your full time job? If so, what were you doing for work prior to streaming?

I'm a full time cat dad really, but there was a period of time after university, before I started going hard on the streaming, that I actually spent teaching at a film school. While that news might horrify some, you would be surprised how similar Twitch chat is to the average classroom.

What hobbies or interests do you have outside of streaming?

I am weirdly obsessive when it comes to my time spent away from the PC. I latch onto something and spend all of my off time on it for a few months then move on. Usually this takes the form of walking. If I'm feeling restless after a day of streaming, I'll have a shower, get changed and just go for a night time walk around London for a few hours. Suburban London is pretty cool at night since we have a huge population of urban foxes and you got a lot of dog walkers out and about.

Although, at the moment I am really into baking bread. I'm not entirely sure where the desire came from but I am currently in pursuit of the perfect banana bread. I think I just may not be very good at baking, I either end up with a soggy bottom or I over bake the loaf and it comes out too dry.

If you could say one thing that every Path of Exile player should hear, what would it be?

It saddens me that many Path of Exile players aren't aware of the tragedy of 11 + 4.

There are many new streamers looking to make their way in the Path of Exile community. What advice do you have for them?

Don't worry about what other people are doing. Find something you enjoy and stick to it. If you enjoy it then it's worth your time. Do not think about making money if that's your goal then streaming is not for you and you will quickly burn out.

Are there any new content creators that you want to give a shout out to?

There are some content creators that every Path of Exile player should be aware of.

Engineering Eternity makes amazing beginner-friendly guides and is someone I would recommend to anyone new to Path of Exile.

Karvarousku offers knowledge bombs for days. If you have any questions, about any mechanic, Karv will know the answer.

As for the newer content creators, to name a few:

Octavian. I am very envious of Octavian's buttery smooth audio. He has a great long-running YouTube series called Price Check that is really informative to new and old players alike.

Grimro. He specialises in Zoom, Zoom softcore magic find builds and mapping strategies and does a great job of distilling his strategies into straight forward easily understandable YouTube guides.

Derrok. I think of Derrok as the Bob Ross of Path of Exile. His YouTube channel is dedicated to making custom Hideout decorations, Lego style, through clever decoration manipulation to make whole new objects and peak aesthetics.

Skryah. Aside from having an annoying name to remember, Skryah has also recently started making videos for RaizQT's YouTube channel. Between the two of them they are putting out some of the best PoE content out there.

Do you have any projects on the horizon you want to share with the community?

I have a few things planned that are still a little too early in development to talk about in depth so basically expect much of the same from your favorite British streamer with some exciting unannounced thingies coming soonTM.

For anyone wondering, yes I am very much aware of the turbulent state of platforms such as YouTube. I am looking into the long-term possibility of becoming either a Soundcloud rapper, or possibly even barista. For now I plan to continue making the highest-grade Path of Exile non-content.

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Thanks for participating in the interview! If you want to follow TarkeCat, check him out on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter!
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