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On Oct. 2, the anonymous gaming streamer Dream finally showed the world what was behind the cartoon-smiley mask he’s worn for a little over three years. The YouTuber teased the “face reveal” to his more than 30 million YouTube subscribers on Sept. 19 with a post on his Community Tab that said, “My next upload will be me face revealing… Super nervous but also incredibly excited for the future! I can’t wait to start meeting you guys in person.” On Sunday, he uploaded a video to YouTube titled, “hi, I’m Dream.” In it, he drew out the reveal, cropping his face out of the frame, standing behind a green screen, and shielding his face with the mask until he removed it and faced his fans for the first time.
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My name is Clay, maybe you’ve heard of me, maybe not,” he said in the video. “Maybe you clicked on this video out of pure curiosity, and you don’t care who I am.”

His video received over 1.1 million views within the hour, and the hashtag #DreamFaceReveal became the No. 1 trending topic in the United States on Twitter on Sunday. The tweet containing his first-ever selfie amassed more than 800,000 likes. While his fans were generally excited to finally see him, some took the opportunity to comment negatively about his appearance, leading “He’s Ugly” and “#PutTheMaskBackOn” to trend alongside the more neutral hashtag following his post.

While it may seem like a small deal to anyone outside the YouTube gaming community, Dream’s reveal reflects a fervent fandom and the risks of messing with a winning formula online.

Who is Dream, and what does he do?

Dream is a 23-year-old streamer who has had an Internet presence since 2014 but is best known for creating the Dream SMP (“survival multi-player”) server with his friend GeorgeNotFound on Minecraft. The invite-only server launched in April 2020, and according to the WikiFan Page, it’s popular for its “mostly improvisational plot and a long history of alliances, wars, factions, eras, and characters.” Dream’s YouTube page, where he posts his Minecraft gaming videos, is three years old and has amassed over 30 million followers.

He also has a collective of friends whom he streams with who are not anonymous—Tubbo, who has over three million subscribers on YouTube and close to five million on Twitter, and TommyInnIt, who has over 11 million subscribers.

Dream’s anonymity has been one of the most alluring aspects of his persona online and that intrigue, paired with his vibrant personality, have helped him build a loyal following across social media platforms. With a large following often comes some level of controversy and criticism, and Dream has not been immune. He’s previously been accused of cheating during game play by using game modifications during Minecraft speedrunner, but he claimed the use of so-called “mods” was not intentional and that he he didn’t know they were active during the game.

Why has he been anonymous, and what made him reveal his identity now?

In a 2021 interview with YouTuber Anthony Padilla (formerly of the YouTube duo Smosh), Dream said, “I just blew up so quickly and then it became a part of the fan art, and a part of the community so quickly. It wasn’t a calculated move, it was just something that happened.” He explained in the interview that while he didn’t set out to be anonymous, his popularity snowballed and it became too important a part of his persona to abandon.

Few people had seen what Dream looks like, and even some of the people he regularly streams with had never seen his face before he revealed it. He promised a face reveal when his friend, UK-based streamer GeorgeNotFound, moves to Florida because they have been friends for a long time and he wanted to show his face to his close friend. He seemed to figure it was as good a time as any to show himself to more than just George. George posted a tweet on Sept. 18 that he got his visa and the following day, Dream announced that a face reveal was coming.

In his video, Dream said, “My goal was to just start doing things; get out, meet creators, say hi to my friends finally, just get out in the world, be an actual creator, be a person.”

How the Internet responded to Dream’s face reveal

Dream’s anonymity allowed his fans to imagine what he might look like, and many of his fans were “excited” about the face reveal. “It would be pretty nice to finally put a face on his voice,” one fan told BuzzFeed News. Another said, “I’m just nervous he’s gonna get awful messages if he doesn’t look like they expect him to look.”

Awful messages are exactly what he got. Soon after the hashtag #DreamFaceReveal started trending, “He’s Ugly,” and #PutTheMaskBack on began trending as well. People also made jokes about his looks. In response, there was an outpouring of support, with many fans calling detractors’ claims baseless and mean.

“HE LOOKS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN I WAS EXPECTING HIM TO,” one person tweeted. “BUT BROS SO CUTE WTF.” YouTuber Joey Graceffa joined in and tweeted, “Dream is cute” with a pair of eye emojis.

What does this mean for other anonymous creators?

Dream is not the only anonymous streamer (or the only one to reveal their face following a period of anonymity). One of the other most popular creators in the gaming community is Corpse Husband. His deep voice is one of the most recognizable features about him, as his fans have also never seen his face.

It remains to be seen how this move will affect Dream’s content (although he says he will not be forgoing the mask during his streams), but it seems possible that it could serve to bolster his career. He has more opportunities now to be a creator in every sense of the word, without fear of his identity accidentally being leaked. As someone who ascended to fame during the pandemic, he finally has a chance to meet his fans in person and connect with them as he’s done over the Internet.

Outside of the gaming world, other anonymous creators have built devoted followings, including YouTuber tea drama channels like SpillSesh and the popular celebrity blind item Instagram page DeuxMoi. The latter also revealed their faces (not by choice—they were discovered by Internet culture journalist Brian Feldman, who pieced the puzzle together using public information). For Dream, only time will tell if assigning a face to the creator outweighs the allure of mystery he cultivated up until now.

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