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What TimTheTatman Was Like Before The Fame

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Timothy Batar, better known as TimTheTatman, is a prominent Twitch streamer who plays games such as "Call of Duty: Warzone" and "Overwatch." He's not exactly a super-ultra-pro at these games — that's his theory as to why people watch him — but he loves what he does and has attracted millions of loyal fans. Sure he can get emotional at times and has punched his stuffed penguin Kevin on numerous occasions, but overall, TimTheTatman is a pretty swell guy.

Thousands of viewers tune in to watch TimTheTatman (and occasionally his son Brewer) every day, and many take his fame for granted. Most of his fans can't remember a time when TimTheTatman didn't entertain audiences with an epic "Fall Guys" losing streak or the running gag that is his tendency to take fall damage. However, not only did such a period exist, it almost caused him to take a very different road in life. If it wasn't for some monumentally bad luck, TimTheTatman would be a professional esports gamer instead of a digital court jester who makes $124,000 a month. He also could have helped at-risk children instead of entertaining them.

You'd be surprised to learn what TimTheTatman used to be like.

How Tim got his start

Becoming a gamer is a long and winding process, let alone a pro gamer. People usually introduced to the world of gaming by someone else, and gamers tend to go through a few titles until they find one that clicks. No streamer ever popped onto Twitch and magically became an expert in a specific game, and TimTheTatman is no exception.

TimTheTatman started playing video games when he was only five years old, thanks to a generous donation from his father consisting of a Super Nintendo and a copy of "The Hunt for Red October." Tim began with side-scrolling submarine shooters, but he eventually graduated to streaming "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" and "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2," playing about 4-5 hours a day and only achieving 10,000 concurrent viewers max. Then "Overwatch" came and gave him around 18,000 viewers on average. But for TimTheTatman, "Fortnite" was arguably the game that made him the lucrative streamer he is today. He also streamed games like "World of Warcraft" and "Fall Guys," too.

Of course, there's more to streaming than just the choice of games; you need a setup, and when TimTheTatman started, his was the definition of low budget. He had an Xbox 360, a $100 TV, two computers — one custom $800 PC for streaming and a laptop for reading chat — and the pièce de résistance: a webcam duct-taped to the wall. As for his chair, TimTheTatman fished it out of a dumpster because he couldn't afford one just yet. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Tim owes his streaming career to Ducksauce...and luck

Many people enter certain fields because a notable person or show inspired them. You would not believe how many individuals become scientists and inventors because they saw "Star Trek" and wanted to turn science fiction into science reality (per BBC). TimTheTatman likewise became a streamer because of an analogous set of inspirations.

According to TimTheTatman, the seeds of his streaming career were planted when, during college, he regularly watched Ducksauce and Sodapoppin. Tim found both streamers hilarious, and he loved how Ducksauce balanced playing "World of Warcraft" and chatting with viewers. Tim watched Duck every morning and thought what he and Soda did was "so cool" and wished he could stream like them.

While becoming a streamer is easier than ever before, becoming a successful streamer like TimtheTatman is a whole other story. Tim believes he was lucky to start when he did. Back then, Twitch streaming was tiny, and 100 concurrent viewers was a big deal. More importantly, streamers were doing it for fun, not money. Nowadays, Twitch is so big that newcomers struggle to get noticed; TimtheTatman entered at just the right time.

TimtheTatman might have found his niche with streaming, but like many content creators, he had cold feet when starting out. In his early videos, he talked very differently, with the bass turned all the way up. He wasn't getting used to the multitasking or recording software; he was practicing his caster voice. He thought he wouldn't make it as a streamer, so he used his videos as an opportunity to demonstrate his vocal range in the hopes someone would hear him and try to hire him as an esports caster.

Tim's early jobs

Every streamer out there has a story of what they did before they turned playing video games — or whatever else they might stream — into a career. Some people had more jobs than others, especially TimtheTatman.

One could say that TimtheTatman was the king of odd jobs. Like many children, he had a paper route; unlike many children, though, he got the job because a stranger drove up to him and asked if he wanted it. Tim once applied for a job at Taco Bell but was told he wasn't qualified, but arguably one of Tim's stranger jobs might not have been a job at all. When he was 16, a lady drove him around to gas stations to test attendants and see if they would sell him cigarettes. If they refused, they passed, and if they didn't, the woman wrote them up. Definitely unorthodox — and he doesn't think he was even paid for his time.

Not all of TimtheTatman's jobs were fun, let alone tolerable. Case in point: He used to work in a warehouse, unboxing products just so other workers could repackage them. It was, in his own words, "toxic" and "soul-draining," and to make matters worse, he was on the 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. graveyard shift. The last job Tim had before becoming a fulltime streamer was as a shift supervisor at a halfway home. He knew working that job and also streaming would burn the candle at both ends, so he weighed the risks (i.e., which one would help him pay off student loans faster), and in March of 2014, he quit his job to pursue his dream of playing video games in front of a live, virtual audience.

Not the social butterfly he thought

College is never easy, but having friends there can help. You would be surprised how many people don't realize this until their friend group disbands, TimtheTatman included.

When it was finally time for Tim to attend college, he studied at North Park University in Chicago, and he left his friends to go there. That decision put him in the non-enviable position of trying to gather a new clique of comrades. He thought he would make friends easily, but his lack of party experience didn't make it easy. However, Tim eventually befriended some of the college's football players.

The new friends Tim made in college got him into weird situations, usually when they were trying to meet women. For example, at one party, Tim was hanging out with his friends and dancing with a girl. On that night, Tim says he got "super blackout drunk" and leaned against a wall, but in his inebriation, he fell over and cut himself on an exposed nail. At the time, he thought he only needed a band-aid, but in reality, it was a nasty gash that bled everywhere and eventually turned into a scar. 

Despite Tim's injury, the girl he danced with friended him on Facebook, which weirded him out. He was consumed by a guilty feeling and thought she wanted a relationship, and worried that they'd had a one night stand while he was drunk. When Tim asked her if his assumptions were true, he just blurted it out, and the girl's response was just as blunt: "lol god no." And that was the end of that. Luckily for Tim, true love was on the way.

How Tim met Alexis

While Alexis — TimTheTatman's wife — was the streamer's high school/college sweetheart, she wasn't his first girlfriend. That honor goes to a girl he met when he was 13 on AOL Instant Messenger. They talked for a bit, and then Tim asked if she wanted to date him. She said yes, and Tim's first response was to propose a date schedule: handholding for the first six months, followed by a kiss after a year. The girl immediately broke up with him. Tim's relationship with this person lasted a whopping five minutes.

But in August 2016, Timothy "TimTheTatman" Batar married his girlfriend Alexis, and on August 11, 2019, she gave birth to their son, Brewer. Tim and Alexis are proud parents, and their son has gone on to appear in numerous streams, stealing the show whenever he's on screen. With all that in mind, one cannot underplay the importance of all Tim and Alexis went through to get to that moment.

Tim first met Alexis in high school. They dated for a bit, and back then, Alexis essentially took care of Tim (his words). While Tim spent his after-school hours playing "World of Warcraft" with friends, Alexis was working — and buying Taco Bell for Tim. Eventually Tim and Alexis broke up, but that wasn't the end of their relationship. They got back together during college and dated again, but it was a long distance romance, so they eventually broke up once more. But then in 2015, TimtheTatman confessed he still had feelings for Alexis, so she quit her job and moved in with him. After a few months, Tim took Alexis to a fancy resort to propose to her.

Why Tim is 'The Tat Man'

We all know TimTheTatman is covered in tattoos; it's in his name, after all. But what got him started, and why did he base his online identity around it? That is a story and a half.

Tim's first tat was a crown of thorns on his right arm, but fans may not know why. According to Tim, the reason to get this was twofold. He wanted to show off his faith, and he also wanted to mirror his father; Tim's dad had a crown of thorns tattooed on his left arm, so Tim wanted the same on his right arm. However, the quality of Tim's first tattoo was less than stellar, so he treated the experience as a lesson, and resolved to wait for better artists in the future.

As for why Tim added "TheTatman" to his name, that was a happy little accident. Tim recollected that one day in college, a psychology professor was taking roll call, and when Tim heard his name, he raised his right arm, which displayed his tattoo. The professor saw it and jokingly called him "Tim the tat man." Tim thought it was catchy, so he reserved the name in his head. He decided that should he ever create a YouTube or Twitch account (or an account on Justin.tv account, Twitch's precursor), he would call himself "TimTheTatman." And he did.

On a side note, TimTheTatman's younger viewers also might wonder how the professor came up with the nickname. Truth be told, the professor apparently claimed he was thinking of Tim Allen's character from the 90s sitcom "Home Improvement," Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.

Just who is Kevin?

Long before TimTheTatman's son increased the cuteness quota of his videos, the streamer had another adorable companion in the form of Kevin the Penguin. The stuffed animal was a magnet for love and abuse, depending on Tim's luck and the will of his patrons, and is essentially his channel's mascot. However, there's more to this unflappable stuffed bird than just a cute smile stitched onto a felt beak.

Even though Kevin is a constant face in TimTheTatman streams, he wasn't Tim's first mascot. When Tim started streaming, his only decoration was a lamp called Optic Lamp. Yes, he gave his lamp a name, and he also stapled the names of his paying patrons to its shade. Later, TimTheTatman adopted another mascot, Gerald the Gnome, who was a constant face in stream backgrounds. However, Gerald was brittle and eventually had to be retired.

While Kevin eventually replaced Gerald and became almost as famous as Tim himself, Kevin's popularity was more or less an accident. A random fan sent Tim a stuffed penguin, which Tim named Kevin, and audiences fell in love with the character. Many of Tim's fans want a Kevin to call their own, but finding one just like him is harder than it should be. Luckily, fans of the streamer appear to have figured out where Kevin came from. Kevin apparently belongs to a line of stuffed animals called Flopsies produced by Aurora Plush, and Kevin's specific model is known as Penny Penguin. You can easily find it on sites such as Amazon, if you want to make sure to get a fluffy pal of your own.

What other secrets does Kevin hide? According to Tim, he's a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Tim got in trouble for the silliest reasons

While TimTheTatman normally stays in Twitch's good graces — minus the occasional DMCA takedown — he actually used to get in trouble a lot, usually for silly stuff, which left its mark on him. Given TimTheTatman's permanent school records, one might assume he was a problem child. From his perspective, though, he was just a punching bag. For instance, when he was in first grade, Tim tried to make a catapult out of Lincoln Logs and accidentally broke one. When he admitted his mistake, his teacher sent him to the principal, and they told his parents to make him do chores to pay for a new set of logs.

When he got older, Tim attended a private high school where the staff enforced a strict dress code that extended to his hair. Detention was a regular part of Tim's schedule because some teachers there deemed him a "bad kid," but Tim claims they just didn't like him. For example, Tim claims one teacher gave him detention for using a milk jug as a water bottle, despite lugging it around for five months prior without any problems. Another time, Tim was handed an "after-school suspension" because he had received several previous detentions over the length of his hair. When Tim's father picked him up, he wanted to ground Tim, but Tim talked him out of it by arguing that he was trying to punish Tim for being punished.

These detentions left their mark on Tim, specifically his choice of clothes. If he can't eat at a steakhouse in his hoodie, sandals, and shorts, he doesn't want to go. TimTheTatman claims not to own fancy clothes, and he blames his teachers.

Tim could have gone pro

Whenever audiences tune in to watch TimTheTatman, they typically expect to see him being sniped by opponents and taking fall damage. These universal constants might make viewers assume Tim isn't that good at games, but truth be told, he is actually a talented player with remarkably bad luck.

When TimTheTatman started gaming in earnest, he primarily focused on "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive." He played the game for fun and occasionally goofed around, but he was actually really good. In 2015, he achieved the enviable position of Global Elite, the highest rank in the game. That was enough to get him into "CS:GO" tournaments, which gave his popularity a sizable boost. Instead of joining a super serious team, Tim signed up with Umps and Friends, which was a force to be reckoned with, but focused more on fun than fostering a competitive mindset. However, that's when everything went downhill for Tim's pro-gaming aspirations — albeit through no fault of his own.

In order to compete in an ESEA playoff match, Umps and Friends recruited then-15-year-old Coby "dizzy" Meadows. Dizzy was set to help Umps and Friends, but right before the match, he was grounded at home for vaping. Because the team was down a player, they couldn't participate and were disqualified as a result. Tim is fairly good natured about what happened and still takes every opportunity to rib dizzy for being grounded and dashing his pro-gaming dreams.

Had history gone differently, maybe fans would be seeing TimtheTatman compete in esports competitions alongside the likes of Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf. Instead, fans are regularly watching Tim beat up Kevin and lose Crowns in "Fall Guys," and they wouldn't have it any other way.

Body Image Problems

TimTheTatman isn't what you would call svelte, but he's finally at peace with the way he looks. However, it was a long road for him.

When Tim was about 10 years old, he weighed around 150 lbs, which made it difficult for him to play football. Not because he was particularly out of shape, but because his coach wouldn't let him compete; he was deemed too heavy to play with the other kids his age, but the older players were too heavy for him. 

Tim feels that things didn't get better with age, though. As he got older, Tim says he continued to have a problem with taking care of himself from a nutritional standpoint. Although, while TimtheTatman openly admits that he is overweight, he insists that he is still athletic and believes he can beat most people in sports such as volleyball, golf, and tennis.

TimTheTatman's body issues extend past his weight as the streamer has long felt self-conscious about what he calls his "puffy nipples." To make sure they didn't stick too much during school, he would duct tape his nipples to his chest every day. Then he would typically wear several layers, including a tank top, shirt, and a polo shirt on top. A smaller problem Tim dealt with was a series of unflattering hairstyles. As he told fans, he once went through "Justin Bieber" and "Ron Weasley" phases in his younger years.

Nowadays, TimTheTatman has his body image issues in check thanks to a combination of self-control, exercise, and self-acceptance. And of course, he stays plenty busy with being a dad.