One of the things we wanted to do when we set up FULLSYNC, was to help support small streamers. We kind of drifted away from that a bit as the site evolved, but we’re returning to our roots by setting up a new community in Guilded. And to help kick off our return to supporting streamers, we were lucky enough to catch up with an old favourite ours, Nattend0.
You may remember Nattend0 from her earlier days doing cosplays under the name NintendoNat. She disappeared for a while, but now she is back! And we’ve been fortunate enough to have a chat with Nat about her life and what brought her back to start streaming video games. So let’s get to it…
First things first, thanks for taking part. Now I remember when you first started out as NintendoNat, but for others who haven’t known of you from way back when like me, why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
My pleasure! It’s a lot, so be prepared…
Growing up, I, as many fellow nerds, was bullied, rejected, and felt insecure. I felt like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t find people that were like me – people with similar nerdy interests and people who were a little weird. At a very young age, I started becoming afraid to be myself, because it seemed like not many people liked me for me, not even my own mother.
I had one best friend, Stephanie, who I felt safe being a nerdy weirdo around, but I was constantly insecure and sad around everyone else. After high school, I was sick of being miserable and feeling alone, so I wanted to do something that embraced me to not be afraid of being myself.
I took the insecurities I had and paired them with things I loved, hoping to write myself a new narrative. I never liked my body, I never thought I was very pretty, I was always a nerdy dork for Nintendo, and I hated being in pictures. I thought if I could push myself out of my comfort zone, to better learn to love myself FOR myself, then just maybe I can help others who are like me do the same. That’s how NintendoNat was born.
I was already helping a friend model her dresses she sold on Etsy, so I built up the courage to do something on my own. I shelved my body insecurities, my insecurities for being a nerdy dork, for being weird and different, and I bared all… literally. To my surprise, people gravitated toward what I had created. I mixed tasteful censored nude modelling with my passion for Nintendo, to create something I could call my own. To embrace myself and move forward past the insecurities into self-love.
I guess there were WAY more people out there than I had thought that were just like me, on the same mission to love and embrace themselves for their nerdy passions and what made them different. People who felt alone, embarrassed, and rejected for who they were, and the nerdy passions they had, no longer had to feel alone when they were following me online. I spoke to the underdogs because I’ve always been one.
Through meme sharing, letter writing, making art for people by hand, and taking photos that made me feel beautiful for who I am, as well as embracing my passion for Nintendo and gaming, I grew a community of people and formed an unbreakable bond. I had no idea that taking these photos that were initially an experiment for me to better love myself, would end up being such an internet phenomenon. I knew people would enjoy them because let’s be real, they’re very sexy, but not to the degree that it blew up.
NintendoNat became a safe place for others, as I became a person to represent underdog nerds to grow past the darkness in their lives and find light, happiness, and hope through community and acceptance. The content I provided, as well as the countless hours I spent talking to people, let them feel ok for who they were, exactly as they were, while I too was learning to do the same.
Now, I’d like to start with your early days. Before all your cosplaying and streaming. What was little Nattend0 like and when did your love of all things Nintendo begin?
Little Nat was always a weirdo. She’s always been very loud, very expressive, animated, and talkative. My trigger word most of my life growing up was “annoying”. To other kids, I was annoying. What a terrible word. I wasn’t annoying, I was just different.
My best friend Stephanie, who I met right before kindergarten, became my rock and allowed me to be as weird and silly and dorky as I wanted without any judgement or shame. We were two peas in a pod, and when I was with her, no one else could hurt me. She was also the first person I played video games with after I had started playing on my own.
I first started on my brother’s SNES, picking up Super Mario World at the age of 4, hoping he’d teach me how. We weren’t very close as kids, so I was on my own, and I was determined to learn. Shortly after, I met Stephanie and we were able to bond over Super Mario together. I no longer had to feel alone or like an outcast anymore.
In kindergarten we made up imagination games, one called “Natalio and Stephanio”, where we made paper moustaches, taped them to our faces, and went down big green slides on the playground making warp pipe noises, pretending we were in the Mushroom Kingdom. Although I felt invincible with her, bullying and rejection still got to me over the years, and made it impossible to feel worthy of love.
I buried myself in Nintendo games as escapism, into an imaginative weird fun world; one I wished I lived in. I saw myself as a cartoon character who just didn’t fit in with the real world. I became obsessed with Nintendo games because, in that world, I felt free.
And what was it that got you into cosplaying?
Halloween has always been my favorite for how creative and expressive it is. Being someone who loves imaginative worlds, and who subconsciously hated herself because she felt something was wrong for being different, what’s better than a day where you can be whoever you want to be?! Reimaging yourself and taking away the pain of daily life that you normally experience.
I still remember dressing as Simba from the Lion King, and all of the other 1st graders laughing at me for choosing to dress as a boy character. It felt horrible, and I was in tears, but deep down I knew that if I had dressed as Nala to get the approval of my peers, I would have felt even worse. Despite feeling angry and sad that I was different, I never wanted to compromise being authentic.
I loved how I felt when I got creative with a costume. I loved bringing fantasy into the real world. When I was older and found out about cosplay, you can only imagine how entranced I was. I immediately gravitated towards it, full of awe, because I could now experience the same joy I did every Halloween on multiple days in the year! Cosplay and Conventions were a game-changer because now I could see that being different was never bad, it was just that, being different.
And turns out, there are tons of other people who feel just as different as I did. It gave me hope that there was an outlet for my creativity, my love for imaginative things, for dressing up and expressing my nerdy obsessions. It gave me hope for being myself without fear of judgment.
Now time-warping forward a little, you found yourself becoming quite popular after setting up your NintendoNat Facebook page in the early days, even having an image picked up by Playboy. What was that like?
Becoming as popular as I did in such a short amount of time was a whirlwind! All my life I had gotten used to being rejected, so I didn’t know how to handle such a massive amount of acceptance. It felt like fuel that positively pushed me to be myself without shame every day. It made me feel like I was in fact deserving of love all along, and helped me love myself even more.
I never intended NintendoNat to be a vessel for attention, so when I began receiving more attention than I anticipated, it excited me as well as scared me. Suddenly I was juggling more than I could emotionally process. Although most of the followers in my community were positive and loving, there were of course cruel negative bullies on the internet that triggered my past trauma PTSD. When people called me a slut for the sexy content I provided, without knowing the story behind it, I felt small and unloveable again like I have all my life.
I had to actively battle these two Natalie’s inside of me: one who was trying to grow positively and see her true potential/worth in herself, and one who was convinced by others that she was broken, different, and unloveable. You can imagine how hard it was to have that type of internal battle with yourself.
It didn’t help that Playboy posted an article with my photos without my consent. It added to the internal battle of “who am I, really?” by giving me both a sense of pride and excitement for being acknowledged, as well as shame for the fact I was only popular for shallow reasons, not for who I was. I started seeing blogs posted and articles about “sexy cosplayers” and “sexy gamer girls” in both positive and negative lights.
I really had to force myself to tune out the ones that tried to shame me, because I knew they were just looking at the photos and not hearing my story or seeing what I was doing with my community; building a foundation of love.
Did you ever think your popularity would have reached the heights they did?
Absolutely not. As previously mentioned, I had no idea that what I had created would turn into what it did. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I didnt know how to navigate and emotionally process it. It was incredible, exciting, and an absolute wonder! I loved it, I truly loved it! I was helping other people feel good about themselves, and helping myself grow too.
I wasn’t thinking deeply about how I was going to maintain it over time, as I was so caught up in the present; caught up in how every day made me feel alive. Unfortunately, the popularity that gave me so much love and light was also the reason I began breaking down. Despite how much I wanted it, and how important the community was to me, I was not ready for it back then, and I found that out the hard way.
After your popularity peaked, you disappeared. I hope you don’t mind us asking, but what happened? Where did the old NintendoNat go?
As my popularity grew, I began to crumble. Since my mental health has always been incredibly important to me, I stayed honest with my friends/followers. Through my posts, my fan-mail letters, and the personal messages/conversations I had over FB DMs, I was always honest about how I was loving the experience, but also struggling underneath it all. This encouraged other people to open up about their struggles in their own lives, and it added to the incredible bond I already had with them.
My community was a safe place for everyone to confide in me, and for me to confide in them; to grow together. As lovely as that sounds, I wanted everyone to receive equal amounts of my love, attention, and friendship, which became not sustainable over time. There were too many people, and just one of me, and my heart is too big to reject anyone. I took on way more than I could handle, trying to help everyone else, meanwhile, helping myself became neglected. My mental health was crumbling and I didn’t know what to do.
It also didn’t help that people outside my community wanted my public image to go in a porny direction because of my photos, and I didn’t know how to stop that train. It was ironic that the girl who always felt like a nobody and desperately craved love, now had too much love and wanted to be a nobody again…
So I vanished. I blamed my disappearance on wanting to finish college, and how NintendoNat had become too much of a distraction. This wasn’t entirely a lie, as I found it impossible to juggle the two lives of NintendoNat and Natalie in one day, however, it also wasn’t entirely the truth.
The truth is, I ran away because I was not emotionally stable enough to process what was happening. I couldn’t be everything to everyone and take care of myself at the same time. I still had a lot to learn about myself on a deeper level, and I needed to become stronger as an individual for myself, and to better support the people in my community I loved so much.
Another jump forward in time again and I see you posting again out of the blue. What made you decide to rejoin the community you created so long ago?
For years I’ve been working incredibly hard on self-development. This entailed learning a vast amount of information about myself through research, experiments, support groups, literature, etc. Right before I reopened NintendoNat, everything I was seeking to learn about myself finally came to a head. The broken puzzle I was looking at my entire life now finally had all the pieces in position, and I could clearly see the whole picture.
It horrified me. I saw a mother that never loved me, emotional trauma and abuse, manipulation, rejection, abandonment, and destruction. Repressed memories I never knew I had started coming into focus, and I quite literally wanted to die.
They say knowledge is power, so my whole life I was seeking the knowledge to better understand myself, and why I always felt so broken. When I finally had the knowledge I was looking for, I wish I hadn’t known. I felt like my life was just a collection of unfortunate circumstances, and I felt tainted as a person. I felt I had no future or purpose. I hit a bottom without end.
One night, at random, I wanted to see if the community that once made me feel like I wasn’t broken like I was a loveable special human, still existed. To my surprise, my page was still there, just frozen. Without any expectations, gameplan, or thought, I reopened NintendoNat with a casual post of curiosity. That night saved my life. Every day since that day, instead of using the knowledge I gained about myself to destroy myself, I used it to rise and rebirth.
I know now who I am and why, and with that, I can finally be happy and find peace. Reconnecting with this community, and reinventing myself past the trauma kid I always knew to be, gave me a new lease on life. I have a purpose and I’m following my passion again. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
How do you think you’ve developed as a cosplayer, and more importantly, as a person since then?
Honestly, I haven’t really done cosplay since I vanished from NintendoNat. I not only left the social media world, but the real world too. I checked out and made it my mission to figure out who I was and why I was. After I found what I was looking for within myself, and reopened NintendoNat, all the trauma I used to carry has turned to a whisper. I’ve never never been this happy and secure in myself. I’ve never felt this alive.
I felt confident and happy and alive when I first created NintendoNat years ago, but it doesn’t even compare to how I feel now. I was still questioning myself back then, and I still felt unworthy of love despite how much love I was receiving on a global scale. Now, due to everything I learned about myself over the last few years, I finally know for certain that I am deserving of love, and it makes me cry tears of joy.
I continue to develop as a strong, self-aware woman, as well as being a complete and utter dork free of shame. I hope to get back into cosplay when I have the time to commit to it. Right now, streaming on Twitch and being present for my community on all of my socials is taking priority. It’s an incredible ride, and there’s no words to describe how grateful I am to be here and a part of it.
You’ve decided to rename the NintendoNat page to fit the new you, and now go by the name Nattend0. Why did you feel the change of name was important?
This new chapter of my life is bigger than just Nattend0. It’s me, Natalie, finally for the first time enjoying my life and loving who I am. It’s shedding the trauma of the past, and the lies I told myself that my mother and others instilled in me: that I was broken. This chapter is blossoming into the person I always should have been, that I was born to be, but didn’t know how to because of abuse.
NintendoNat was a courageous, beautiful soul who was so close to finding herself, but just needed more information. Nattend0 is all that and more, because now I am self-aware emotionally, and I can better support my community and fully be myself. I am not the same woman I was when I was NintendoNat, although we share the same heart and soul. I’ve evolved, and with that evolution, I wanted a new name that still acknowledges my roots but does not define me the same anymore.
I kept it similar as a tribute because they are connected, and I’m forever grateful for NintendoNat. I chose a “0” instead of an “o” at the end of my name because my whole life I felt like a zero, and I never want to forget that. I never forget breaking free of the chains that weighed down my self-worth. I was an underdog, and will always be an underdog, just one that now realizes her worth to the world and wants to continue to help other underdogs realize theirs.
Since you’ve returned, we’ve seen you creating a Discord for your community, and you’ve begun streaming Skyward Sword on Twitch. How much are enjoying being back and mixing with your community in these formats?
There are no words to how incredible reconnecting with everyone in my community has been. I’ve been crying the whole time, seriously, the whole time. Hearing people tell me how much of an impact I made on them and their lives all those years ago as NintendoNat makes me break down.
My letters were kept, my drawings were framed, our conversations weren’t forgotten, and our bond was intact. I’ve had people tell me that I helped them through very difficult times in their lives, and I helped them grow as a person. I had no idea, or maybe I had just forgotten, how important I was to everyone. I knew how important everyone was to me, but to hear back it’s mutual has been knocking me in the feels.
Discord and Twitch have blown me away because now I’m able to bring those in my community not just to me, but to each other. I’m seeing strong new friendships form, real love and support for one another, and it’s absolutely beautiful to witness. The community is able to connect now more than ever, through different chat channels, voice chat, screen sharing, game playing, etc.
I put together Movie Nights for all of us to hang out, and it’s so personal and authentic. I never liked the word “fans” because it made me feel like I was above everyone in my community. I prefer “followers” and most of all, “friends”. With the addition of Discord and Twitch, there is no doubt I really truly am friends with all of these people, and I don’t feel elitist like a celebrity.
I’m having SO MUCH FUN creating inside jokes, playful trash talking to each other, meme bombing one another, and ultimately sharing my life with my community again, and having the privilege of them sharing their lives with me too. I can’t wait to grow even closer every day and meet new friends along the way. I hope the community continues to grow, and I hope to make people smile, laugh, and feel loved as often as possible.
After you finish Skyward Sword, what can we expect to see you playing on Twitch next?
I wasn’t sure what to play immediately following S.S. I did know that I wanted my community to be involved with the decision. I want to play something not only I enjoy, but that my community enjoys as well, since it’s about “us”, not “I”. To people’s surprise, I won’t only be playing Nintendo games, as over the years I’ve branched out. I’ve been told that the Mass Effect franchise is incredible, so I preordered the remaster that comes out in May.
I feel it will be a wholesome enjoyable experience for those in my community that are nostalgic for the franchise, to watch me play for the very first time. Since the release is a month away, I needed to choose a game that I could beat in that time. I put together a small list of more nostalgic games for my community to vote on.
Zelda The Minish Cap and Super Mario RPG are the top voted choices, but it’s looking like Super Mario RPG is going to be the winner. I’ll be starting in just a couple of days, and I’m very excited. I haven’t played the game in years, so just as S.S. felt new again, so will Super Mario RPG.
Now, I know mental health is a big subject at the moment all around the world. Especially since the hell people have been through these past 12 months with COVID. How have you coped during lockdown?
The lockdown didn’t affect me as drastically as it has affected other people, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. I was able to move from the office to Work From Home very easily, which I actually enjoyed because I was surrounded by my animals, my fridge, and felt cozy in my home. Not to mention I wore onesies every single day and could be an absolute unshowered gremlin. Communicating with my colleagues was never an issue due to Slack and Zoom, so we managed quite well.
I broke the no contact rule with my dad during the entire pandemic, as I couldn’t imagine not having him close in my life for that amount of time. My dad is my best friend, and I know he feels the same, so it was worth the risk. Not being able to freely hangout with friends, go out to eat, or do quite literally anything outside of the house was frustrating and annoying, but it didn’t depress me too much.
I was still working on myself, and the time alone was actually in a way beneficial. I do very much miss live music, going into the city, and living my life, but in the absence of these things, I was able to better focus on what I needed as a person on a deeper level.
How important do you think video games have been for people during lockdown? And what would you say to people who have struggled during these times?
I assume video games were a lifesaver for a lot of people during this pandemic. Being stuck at home, especially if you can’t work from home, will get very boring very fast. You’ll watch every show there is on Netflix, you’ll finish all the things around the house you’ve been putting off, and then what? That type of boredom will drive people mad into serious depression and anxiety. Video games are a way to escape from the harsh reality around you and immerse yourself in an entirely different world.
People need this, and I can’t imagine what non-gamers went through from not having video games as an outlet. For everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, if there’s something I can say during this pandemic, it’s that you’re not alone. The loneliness this pandemic has caused is enormous. People separated from their loved ones, restricted to video and voice calls that only last so long, and are completely isolated rapidly grow lonely and depressed. Sanity begins to crumble as reality has changed and no longer feels real.
Many of us feel incredibly alone during this pandemic, and I want everyone to try to remember they aren’t, and they’re loved, and that this is only temporary.
I want to tell people that I know it feels like your pain is consuming and only happening to you, but everyone is sharing the pain with you. Even strangers, and your neighbour next door, all are sharing your pain. This is a shared pain on a global scale, and no matter how alone you feel, I promise you aren’t. We are all feeling for you and with you, together. We’re all in this together.
Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope for the future with vaccines being distributed, and deaths and infection rates falling around the globe. What are you most looking forward to when things begin to return to normal?
I’m really looking forward to going out to eat, live music, conventions, camping, and overall feeling less confined. I don’t have very many local friends, so I haven’t been suffering too much from not being able to be social irl, but I am definitely looking forward to giving my best friends hugs again.
Beyond me, I’m looking forward to people rebuilding their lives again. It’s devastating how many small businesses had to close and may never reopen. I’m looking forward to seeing these businesses hopefully rise back up again, and those who have been out of work be employed again.
And what plans do you have as Nattend0 going forward?
I’m absolutely in love with Twitch since I started, so I plan on continuing to focus primarily on streaming. It would be a dream come true to be financially stable enough to stream full time, but that is so very far in the future it’s basically a pipe dream at this point. I’d like to get back into cosplay, but I don’t want to model beyond that.
All in all I don’t entirely have a “plan” for Nattend0, but what I did want to establish is creating a new image or “brand” for myself that I feel is completely authentic, raw, loving, and silly. I want to stick to what I know, which is sharing who I am and what I love with everyone that I love. I hope my community stays strong, even if it doesn’t grow immensely in popularity, and I hope I can continue to make people smile on a day when they need it.
My mission is the same as it’s always been: to shine a little light on the darkness we all carry and that weighs us down. I want to help relieve people of their sadness, insecurities, and stresses in their lives. I want to be a safe place to fall, as my community has always provided the same to me.
Finally, a fun little question to finish off on. If you had to describe yourself as a Nintendo character, who would you be and why?
Hmmmm…. I think I’m going to go with Kirby! I eat everything, I’m cute and sweet, I’ve got a big heart, and I always wanna help! I’m also very adaptable to change, and I love dressing up as different things/themes (like how he turns into other characters and stuff). I try to live my life surrounded by love, but if there’s toxicity I’ll down-B into a rock and squish it like a bug!!!
And that wraps up our chat with Natalie, a.k.a. Nattend0. We’d like to thank her for the time she took to chat with us, and for being so open and honest with everything that she has been through in her life. If you’d like to check out Nattend0 and her streams, you can find useful links to all her social channels and such below.
- Official Website: www.Nattend0.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/Nattend0
- Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Nattend0
- Instagram: www.Instagram.com/Nattend0
If you fancy checking out more of our interviews, you can do so by clicking HERE. And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a community where you can belong just like how Nattend0 has created her own, you can join us in the safe space that is the FULLSYNC Guilded Server, which you can find by clicking HERE.