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20 years before Twitch, a 12-year-old became arguably the first streamer: The Story of Zot The Avenger

In 1993, almost two decades before Twitch went live, then 12-year-old JJ Styles became arguably the first gaming streamer. We at MeinMMO tell you the story of Zot the Avenger.

Who is Zot the Avenger? The American JJ Styles is behind the name. In the 1990s, when the internet was still in its infancy, Zot, then 12, aired his TV show Video Games and More.


The show bore a striking resemblance to modern Twitch streams as we know them. This earned Zot the nickname “the original streamer”. But one after anonther.

It all started in a small local radio station in Tuscon

How does a 12-year-old get their own show? Video Games and More ran on Access Tuscon, an open channel. This was a local station in Arizona that allowed citizens to air their own shows.


Styles’ mother worked with an organization for adopted children to locate their biological parents. A television program helped them publicize information about the organization.

The boy accompanied his mother to the studio and there learned how to light a set, operate the cameras and use editing equipment. Styles developed a knack for working behind the scenes, working on the network’s productions by the age of 10.


Styles could hardly have imagined that one day a “ninja” would play Fortnite in front of more than 600,000 spectators.

Fortnite to become the biggest streamer on Twitch – who is ninja and what is he doing today?


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A streamer before streaming even existed

When did it start? After collaborating on others’ projects, Styles eventually started his own show. For this he looked for backup in the form of his buddy Jason Kingman. In an interview with the US site PC Gamer in 2021, he said:

I was working on his program, directing it and saying, ‘Look, you have to help me, co-host my show, because I don’t want to do this alone.’ That’s too much pressure for a 12-year-old kid.

JJ Styles via PC Gamer


Why is he considered the original streamer? Video Games and More managed to be a clear product of its time while at the same time being very far ahead of it. The similarities to a modern Twitch stream are amazing:

  • Like many Twitch streamers, Styles appeared under a pseudonym: Zot the Avenger
  • Zot and Jason gamble in front of a green screen while gameplay flashes behind them
  • The two not only comment on their gameplay and talk to each other, but also to their viewers, who are connected live

We have included one of the first episodes here so that you can get your own impression of the forerunner of the twitch stream. Zot the Avenger also worked with the Internet Archive website to digitize the original S-VHS tapes. You can find the result here.

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Baseball Caps and Mortal Kombat

What was the show like? With Video Games and More, the then 12-year-old combined his enthusiasm for the talk show “Wayne’s World” from the film of the same name with his passion for gaming. Zot the Avenger posed for the camera with long hair, oversized shirts and a baseball cap pulled backwards.


In the first two episodes, a prequel to the 37-episode series, Styles and his friend played EA Sports NHL ’93 and Mortal Kombat, whose bloody battles sparked debates about video game violence.

In other segments, Zot showed pre-recorded gameplay while superimposing his floating head. In addition, callers were connected live and could ask questions. He is said to have reached an average of around 50 viewers with his show.

However, Zot The Avenger was not just about playing in a relaxed manner and chatting at the same time. At a time when almost every imaginable piece of information was available with just a few clicks, he tried to make gaming more accessible for his viewers.


Television by kids and for kids

How did he do that? Due to his young age, he knew exactly what his target group, other children and young people, were concerned about: In one episode he criticized the Gameboy because it could only be played in the dark with a battery-operated additional light – because where should children constantly get the money for get new batteries?

Styles subscribed to a number of gaming and technology magazines, so he was always well informed. He had another advantage through the support of his technology-savvy mother:

She encouraged him to invest the money he received for a “McDonald’s” commercial in an Apple II. Armed with unlimited internet access – a big deal back then – he started collecting cheat codes and walkthroughs online.


Zot the Avenger shared his accumulated and far-reaching knowledge with his viewers: from the coveted blood code for Mortal Kombat to a dedicated segment for hardware news:

Video games have always been out of the reach of children because of the expensive hardware involved. So, if you’re going to beg your parents for a birthday present, you need to know in advance what you’re going to beg for. I tried to provide this information because I knew how important it is.

JJ Styles via PC Gamer

Styles had experience in making the most out of little. Using a soldering iron or a drill, he turned regular VHS tapes into the slightly more expensive S-VHS tapes, which had better resolution.


In general, he did a lot himself: he created the rotating logo, which is displayed in the later episodes, with Deluxe Paint on an Amiga 2,000 and animated it himself. For other things, like flashing codes at the right time, he relied on his team:

I’m very proud of myself for what I’ve achieved in this television studio because I put my heart into it. I didn’t rely on anyone except my crew members. They were usually put on the program because I was a little control freak, telling them what to do live on air.

JJ Styles via PC Gamer

Technology should connect people

What became of Zot The Avenger? In 1997, Video Games and More ended. Styles had to focus on school, studied and became a music producer. It wasn’t a big deal for him and he didn’t need a ceremony to say goodbye, Styles told PC Gamer.


He hasn’t followed the streaming culture he pioneered in the ’90s, though he believes live streaming could completely replace radio and television in many areas. However, he has a setting that some modern streamers could use as a guide:

I was very aware of what I was radiating. And the more power you give a child, the more responsible they will be. And streaming is power.

JJ Styles via PC Gamer

For Styles, Video Games and More was something that brought people together. Nobody was rich, nobody could afford the technological equipment alone, but they worked together to share their messages.


Ultimately, that’s what technology is there for: to enable and improve communication between people.

10 years after Zot the Avenger and Video Games and More said goodbye, a site launched that would later become streaming giant Twitch. You can read the history of the website and an answer to the question of who actually gets to claim the title of the first Twitch streamer here:

Who was actually the first Twitch streamer and what is he doing today?