Nothing moves until Jordan “Detune” DiSorbo walks into the room. When you close one door, another opens. It doesn’t open, like something out of a terrible horror movie. It opens slowly, with a creak, before Disorbo notices. With one camera pointed straight at the door and another capturing his face, live Twitch viewers can see his stunned reaction when something even scarier happens: a music box starts playing.
DiSorbo started streaming in 2018, seriously pursuing it as a career in 2019, he told Polygon. He has seen success over the years moving from Overwatch to horror games while building a community. His fans turn out for his playful brand of comedy combined with that horror. And in 2022, he started an IRL investigative series called Paranormal deviation. He created an extensive, portable streaming kit and began visiting haunted locations across the United States.
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Besides streaming, DiSorbo balances Twitch and YouTube while touring the US as a musician with the post-hardcore band Glasslands. Ahead of TwitchCon, Polygon spoke with DiSorbo about how he built this career.
[Ed. note: This story has been edited for length and clarity.]
Polygon: When did you start streaming? Has your content changed over the years?
Sorbo: I started streaming as a hobby around 2018. It was an escape for me because I was a full-time music producer. I was on tour. And when I was at home, I was producing, writing music for other people. And it started to turn into a grind. I worked 14 hours, almost every day, forgetting to take days off. Two years in a row, my mom’s birthday and Christmas were the only days I went out. And I was like, I must change, for I shall end up despising music; it will be a whole thing.
So I turned to Twitch because me and my friend were talking about streaming for fun. My mind was like, Well, it’s like something you can grow. I can trick that little workaholic part of my brain into being like, Play video games and have fun.
I started with Overwatch, because I did it semi-professionally for a while and then I moved into horror games because I like to feel scared. That started the trajectory for the rest of my streaming career. I didn’t really take it and I actually tried to turn this into a career until 2019, early 2020. I was really into community building. I wanted to create a space on the internet that I didn’t have growing up as a pansexual person of color. There weren’t many places where I could comfortably walk. I want to build what I didn’t have.
Last year I started an IRL paranormal series. It was a silly idea I had one day and even some of my original community members remember how the light bulb went on. […] I spent a year and a half researching how to do this – how to build the backpack, the technology, the multi-camera. It’s held together with duct tape, but it works.
This set another new path for my streaming career. I’m the only one on Twitch that does, especially at this level of production since I’m also a solo guy. But I really love it. I can meet my friends around the country. I bring different guests and it’s like meeting internet friends for the first time in real life.
I wanted to mention ghost hunting because I haven’t seen anything like it on Twitch before. How are you doing it?
Streaming had me using the camera and my wife was shooting wedding movies. They understand how everything works. I sat down and said to myself, “I’d like to set up my paranormal IRL streams to feel like a game stream at home.’ And the biggest thing I wanted was a face cam, because that’s the focal point of any stream — they want to see your reaction .
I take this backpack and all the trinkets and gadgets in there, I send them to a server, [then send that data] to my computer at home controlled by my phone. My computer at home does all the streaming. I have four streams going at once all to the same OBS. And then I switch them and move them and record everything. This makes for some really, really great depth moments on a camera that is closer to the source than where the stream was. When we look at all the footage later, we can determine where everything is coming from. We were doing this last night and it was ridiculous what we were getting from other cameras.
What have you learned since you started streaming about building your own community around it? It sounds like there was a natural progression to go from horror games to IRL ghost hunting.
Community is what makes Twitch special. Other platforms don’t really have what Twitch has essentially; it’s built into the culture. Having a community that is a reflection of what you would like it to be, something you put love, time and care into, really shows at the end of the day. When we’re not live, everyone on Discord hangs out. Or, say, technical problems happen in the paranormal streams and everything goes down. There’s five minutes of dead air, which is the worst possible thing for a live show. Everyone is talking to each other and killing time until everything comes back. And I don’t think that would happen unless you had that open family type of feeling that I really wanted to sculpt [out].
Is this period of time—near Halloween—especially busy for you? However, I’m sure people want this content all year round.
People really want this content all year round. Usually these are people who would never play these games. They live vicariously through someone doing that and seeing the reaction, so they can be scared, but then also laugh at me or with me depending on what’s going on. It’s like watching a horror movie with a bunch of friends. It’s never as scary as doing it yourself. But it’s always either funny or scary or just exciting to see something happen and everyone reacts the same way [way]. There is comfort in that.
This time of year is busier for me, especially with the paranormal stuff, because I try to step it up. Last week I think I did four locations in five or six days. I did one for YouTube, a live stream at a place called the Clown Motel. I’m terrified of clowns, I don’t know why I did this to myself. Then I went back to the desert where I was in prison and then at the YMCA since 1917. Tell me why the YMCA was one of the scariest places I’ve ever been. We joked like, “The YMCA is going to be a lot worse than prison.” And then we get there and we’re like, “Oh, right.” We’ve spent two entire streams reviewing some of the footage and haven’t even scratched the surface. We go through and try to debunk everything. And then we have a bunch of things we can’t explain. I ask myself “What happened at that YMCA?”
I am a member of the YMCA. I’ll have to watch it to know what to watch out for.
It was the only place – or I guess [the] second place—I was once where I was almost like, “I’m going to leave my gear. I’ll come tomorrow And if it’s not here, I’ll write it off as a loss. We have to get out of here. That idea was terrible.