SAN DIEGO — At TwitchCon, Minecraft content creator Dream was greeted with deafening cheers as he took to the public stage for the first time in his career, after three years of streaming completely anonymously to over 30 million subscribers.
“I legitimately was just in shock,” he told BuzzFeed News. “You see a number in your mind, you know, 30 million, but even seeing 1,000 people in a room or 200 people in a room, and it’s just like, Holy shit. This is for you. This is your life.”
Dream, who had always worn a mask since he first went viral for his videos on speed skills and world-building in Minecraft, has long been building up to revealing his face. He previously announced that there would be an official face reveal in 2022, and anticipation ramped further. And as a date began to materialize, Dream also began sharing details of his face ahead of the full unveiling and also started a viral chain of other influencers posting clips of Dream revealing himself to them before the public announcement. On Oct. 2 he posted his reveal video, and in an interview Saturday, he told BuzzFeed News that he’s been excited to catch up on all the things he wasn’t confident doing when anonymous.
“I've never been to a concert ever,” he said. “I’d love to travel. I want to go to Europe. And I want to meet a lot of creators. Most of my friends, they've traveled around and met people, and they've gone to [football] games.”
The plan had always been to reveal his face, Dream said. But his friends were a major key in picking the right time for it. Dream’s streaming creator squad, Dream SMP, has several British members, like TommyInnit and Georgenotfound. “The decision had nothing to do with business,” he said, “But I will say part of the decision on when to do it had to do with business. [George and I] were like, ‘We want to make IRL content together, so what’s another couple of months to wait to make sure that we can actually make money off of it and have fun?’”
It was a highly profitable cultural moment. Dream’s official face reveal battled the Try Guys’ cheating scandal statement for No. 1 trending video on YouTube that week, and it currently has over 37 million views. “After I saw the view count, I ran out into the kitchen, where George was,” he said. “But while I was running over there like, Oh my god, I slipped in my socks, and now I have a massive green bruise on my shoulder from hitting the ground.”
In addition to all the hype, there was also lots of negativity after the reveal. #HesUgly started trending on Twitter shortly after the video posted; several memes comparing his likeness to cartoon characters and Shane Dawson were liked by thousands of people online.
But Dream said it didn’t bother him at all. “There’s gonna be bad people, people that are going to be mean, so I didn’t take it to heart,” he said. “I expected stuff like that.”
“Most people don’t even understand how the trending system works on Twitter,” he added. “If you tweet something and it hasn’t been tweeted a lot, then it’s more likely to trend.” In 2020, his fandom trended “JHSFGJSLF” after a series of niche arguments between fans and anti-fans.
The growing pains of becoming a corporeal internet celebrity have also been a mixed bag of overwhelming emotions, which Dream described as somewhere between disbelief, joy, and awkwardness. After his first panel Friday, “I literally went and planked on my bed, facedown,” he said. “My mom came over — she came with me to this — and she was talking to me and consoling me. She was like, ‘Is it because there’s too many people?’ And I don’t know what it is. I've never felt those emotions before. I don't even know how to describe what I was feeling.”
The fear of being recognized was much worse when he was anonymous, he said, because it combined with the fear of being found out. Since over 30 million people have listened to his voice, Dream said, he worried about being identified in public, especially given that he’d allowed some information to be known, like the city he lived in, his first name, and his roommates, the Dream SMP members. As a result, he rarely went outside and took extreme precautions in his personal life. “Even just going to the dentist, I’d go out of state,” he said.
And yet despite it all, Dream said, revealing his face felt right. “I feel way more free,” he said. “It's nice to be able to have food and sit in a restaurant and not worry about it.”