Trisha Hershberger first fell into technology as a result of her gaming habits.
At that time her parents didn’t think this was a hobby for girls, because in the ’80s video games were primarily marketed towards boys. But fortunately, her parents eventually gave in.
Her dad brought home an old, used Commodore 64 from a guy he knew at work. That was her first foray into gaming. Zork and Ultima were some of her favorites, followed by classic PC games such as King’s Quest, Monkey Island and the Myst series.
Eventually she got a Nintendo Entertainment System – at the same time her friends were moving onto Super Nintendo.
But that’s when her parents finally blocked her, thinking that at 9 years old, she was a little too into video games. She wasn’t allowed to have any more consoles in the house. But they needed a PC in the house for school.
She quickly taught herself how to upgrade and modify the home PC to play the games she wanted it to play.
“Over the years I found a lot of pride and strength in that. And I like that if I’m going to spend a lot of money on my personal electronics, that I then have the control to customize them, to upgrade them, and to tinker with them as I see fit. There’s a lot of power in that,” Hershberger says. “As an adult I’m someone who has probably way too many devices, to be perfectly honest. But technology is a huge part of my everyday life. And I think it is for most people now. Whether you’re into gaming, or whether you use technology for your professional career, many of us have multiple devices, and it’s lovely to see them sync together and to be there for whatever use case you may have.”
Now Hershberger is a well-known face in gaming and streaming as a host and producer on channels such as MTV, IGN, Disney XD, Smosh and Nerdist. She enjoys building rigs on-camera and helping other self-taught DIYers. She posts many videos online, walking folks through simple problem solving techniques. She’s also followed for her entertaining and informative commentary on a streaming variety show called “The Twitch Gong Show,” which showcases indie games in their beta, alpha and early access states. The audience can vote real-time in chat via emote and give feedback to the indie devs.
The rest of her streams are more “chill,” as she usually plays whatever game has gotten her attention at the time. Right now it’s Ori & the Will of the Wisps, Disco Elysium, Outer Worlds and Slay the Spire, but soon it will be FFVII Remake and Cyberpunk 2077.
Along with so many others working remotely these days, she’s been able to film DIY (at home) versions of her shows. She’s busier than ever because now she’s fully producing the show by herself. This includes videos for Kingston, Newegg, Caffeine and Fandom, plus additional brand deals and streams she already had in her pipeline to self-produce.
She’s been able to marshal her popularity into causes dear to her heart.
“I love to give back to the community through gaming. I feel like a lot of times in the public eye, people who are not endemic to gamer culture may have some negative viewpoints of what that culture can entail. But there are really so many wonderful, positive, video game-centric charities, from AbleGamers to Extra Life, that help the gaming community give back,” she says. “And as someone that is a live streamer, in that culture it’s very prominent and common to do charity streams and harness your community as a positive force for good. So having the ability to do that on a regular basis is something I really value and it’s a very big part of what I do. I recently got a chance to be a part of Microsoft’s Extra Life charity stream up in Seattle on Mixer. And it was very surreal to sit next to Phil Spencer talking about raising money for kids. But really I think that’s what it’s all about, and that’s what makes my career feel so important to me.”
She uses a lot of Dell’s Alienware products in her home streaming setup – everything from peripherals (keyboard, mouse, gaming chair), to a “stunning” Alienware Ultrawide 34-inch curved monitor, to her gaming rig. She’s custom built her streaming rig because she likes building PCs, but her gaming rig is the latest Alienware Aurora R10 with AMD Ryzen 9 and 2080ti.
“It’s safe to say I’m a genuine fan,” she says. “The brand has always impressed me with their innovative designs and consistent performance. Plus, I genuinely love the Alienware Hive community and the friends I have made through it. Lots of talented, kind and ambitious individuals are part of that group that I may not have met otherwise.”
When she wants to play on the go, she uses the Alienware 13 OLED laptop as her travel rig.
“It has a light-up track pad and everywhere I go I get compliments on it. Because it’s something that’s unique,” Hershberger says. “I’m a person who likes my technology to look a little bit different. I know there’s a move right now for gaming hardware to maybe go a little bit sleeker and professional looking, but I tend to really like that crazy, aggressive architecture, unicorn RGB, a super gamer look and feel. So across all of my devices I have that.”
Another thing that’s always been consistent: she likes PCs and Windows.
“I really like to tinker with my tech. Some other manufacturers don’t necessarily give you those kind of options,” she says. “Most of the games that I play are through Steam, or now the Epic Games Store as well, and that is my happy place. So I have an Xbox downstairs in my living room, but really where I’m happiest is seated in my gaming chair at my desk with my two-PC streaming set up, ready to go.”
Her path to her profession is just as distinctive as her gear.
“I never studied technology in school. I was just always an enthusiast. And again, kind of as a result of my gaming habit. And I certainly never considered that technology would be a part of my career. I went to school for entertainment,” she says. “I was a theater major in school. I knew that I liked performing. I knew that I liked being public-facing. And just never really thought about the marriage of those two things until I got out to Los Angeles and tripped and fell into YouTube, as I like to say it.”
She went to an audition that she thought was for a news journalism gig, but they started asking her what she knew about technology and video games. And as someone who had been an enthusiast from a young age, she had a lot to say.
“My favorite job is so hard to pick because I have had the opportunity to do some really cool stuff. I mean, in general, the work that I do, just getting to geek out with people about gadgets, getting to talk about PC modding and building, and getting to play and talk about video games for a living is kind of the dream job,” she says. “So almost every job that I’ve had up until this point has been the dream job.”
As someone who operates her own production company, creating content for Fandom, Caffeine, Newegg and Kingston Technology as well as her own Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Twitch channels, she’s also a longtime advocate for women and girls and for other entrepreneurs forging their own path in a male-dominated space.
“The lesson I always try to impart to up and comers in this space is to do it because you love it. There’s a lot of hurdles to overcome for anyone in this industry — especially if you are something ‘other’ than what people are expecting in any way — sex, race, age, orientation, etc.,” Hershberger says. “If you honestly love what you do, it makes those hurdles seem smaller when you look at the big picture.”
Lead photo: Trisha Hershberger. (Photo by Alan Weissman)