We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our incredible community of streamers, and as part of our Stream Team Spotlighted Streamer interviews we recently talked to the gingery nonsense maker herself, HelloItsKolo!
Hi Kolo! May 6th, 2023, is World Ankylosing Spondylitis day, so please, introduce yourself!
Hello, I’m Kolo Jones, and my online handle is HelloItsKolo! I primarily create content on Twitch, but you can also find me on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter doing all kinds of what we call “Gingery Nonsense”. I primarily play games, but I also spend a lot of time talking and hosting conversations about life, the universe and everything. On stream, we talk a lot about accessibility, disability and about life. We share little victories and talk about almost anything and everything.
I have a form of Spondyloarthritis. I say it like that because I sit somewhere between Peripheral Spondyloarthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. My primary symptom is peripheral issues. Essentially, I deal with a lot of inflammation which affects my arms, hands, elbows. For example, gripping things is really tricky for me, squeezing a ketchup bottle, that kind of thing. I also have Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms related to my lower back, primarily joint issues, and back spasms. So, I sort of sit between them, and the doctors can’t really decide what my diagnosis is!
So, I play games partially with my feet, with thanks to SpecialEffect for helping me set that up!
Thank you for sharing so much of your experiences, can you tell us how you got started in content creation?
I’ve been a creator for nearly five years! I got started with streaming when I was playing an online competitive game and ended up in a team of people, and we just got on really well. We decided to play a few more matches together, one of the team was streaming and he (I wouldn’t usually recommend doing this!) dropped his channel link into the in-game chat, and I was like, “Oh, it’s this Twitch thing.”
I checked it out and a few months later, having really gotten into the swing of being part of a community and enjoying it, these new friends said to me, “Hey, Kolo, you should stream!” And I said, “Nah, I’ve got nothing to say really. I don’t know what I’d do.” Five years later, it’s been my job for nearly four and a half years, which is amazing to be able to say.
Five years, that’s incredible! Seeing as you’ve streamed for so long, what’s some of your favourite content to make online, and why?
My favourite content to make online is around conversation hosting. I love talking about life and making a welcoming and inclusive space. I love using my platform for activism, talking about disability, especially invisible disability, and talking about accessibility. Twitch being a platform where people usually come for the gameplay, they might not be exposed to discussions about accessibility, so using this platform to talk about accessibility, that’s really important to me.
Mostly it’s quite a wholesome place that I run, where we accept each other for who we are and support each other in all sorts of things. It’s not just gaming. I really do feel blessed to be a part of this community.
We’d hazard a guess that some of your favourite games have good accessibility options! Can you tell us what they are and why they’re important to you?
I think the game that’s got the biggest place in my heart is Frog Detective. Frog Detective is a small cult-following game, (I think that’s probably the best way to describe it!) about a frog… who is a detective.
I fell in love with the game after my physical health had gotten to a point where I wasn’t able to use traditional methods of controlling a game, and SpecialEffect helped me set up an accessible control scheme! Initially I was entirely using foot controls and games with simple control schemes and only a few buttons to press was an essential criteria. Frog Detective was the first game I was able to play the whole way through with just my feet, and the first time I fully realised “Oh, wow this is possible. I haven’t lost this, I haven’t lost my ability to play games, I’m still invited!”, so Frog Detective will always have a very special place in my heart.
That was years ago, and to this day you’ll still hear me talking about Frog Detective. I’ve got a Frog Detective plushie in the background of my stream and I really just… love that game. It’s hilarious. It’s silly, it’s funny, it’s light-hearted, it’s a short game and simple to control.
The other kind of games that I really like are open-world narratives, or games that make me cry. I really love a strong narrative. There’s something very compelling and cathartic about being able to fully experience a story.
We played Frog Detective for Jingle Jam 2021, it was amazing! How did you first hear about SpecialEffect, and why have you supported us over the years?
I heard about SpecialEffect from Frontier Developments, a games company in the UK that I worked with a lot. They ran a charity stream for SpecialEffect, and when I looked them up, I thought they were incredible. Then years later, I got in touch when I really needed some accessibility help to be able to access technology and gaming again and SpecialEffect completely changed my life.
It was awful when I lost not only my ability to access my hobby, but also my job. I wasn’t sure what my life would look like or whether I would be able to do things independently. There’s a common misconception that streaming and gaming is just playing video games, but it’s not. It’s accessing this identity, this community, being a part of something bigger than yourself, and being able to independently (or as independently as possible) access the world, as there’s quite a lot of things that I just can’t access. That beautiful escape into the world of a game is something very special, and unparalleled, and SpecialEffect brought that back to me. I can never say thank you enough for that amazing gift.
It was such a beautiful experience to work with SpecialEffect as I was just accepted. There weren’t any awkward questions, I was met with kindness and understanding and nothing but compassion and it was an incredible experience.
So that’s why I fundraise for SpecialEffect. Because I understand from a first-hand perspective exactly what it is like to experience that life-changing access to technology and being able to help someone else access that community, identity and so many other things, that is a really special gift. I want to fundraise and help make this possible for so many more people.
That’s beautiful, we’re so glad we could help you get back to the things you love! So, what are some of your top tips for running a charity stream?
My top tips for running a charity stream are:
Firstly, be yourself!
Secondly, don’t forget to frequently explain who SpecialEffect are and what they do; BubbleBusters, Eye Gaze, the DevKit and so many different things! Examples help a LOT to give people context. Remember that raising awareness is a huge part of a charity stream, as well as fundraising. Spread the word!
At the end of every fundraising stream, I always say “if you do nothing else, please go and tell one other person about SpecialEffect”, because you never know if they tell one more person, who then tells another person, they you might eventually reach somebody who needs SpecialEffect’s help!
Great advice, where can we find you online to be part of the wholesome chaos?