How Final Fantasy XIV Helped Free Streamer Zepla HQ

Freedom never felt so fun!

The ultimate indulgent queen of Final Fantasy XIV, complete with a set of costume bunny ears, Jessica St. John, better known as Zepla HQ on Twitch and YouTube, has a long history in the content sphere. With a combined audience of over 500,000 little buns, she has cemented herself as one of the top voices and streamers in the immersive world of FFXIV

Zepla HQ, aka Jessica St. John in a recent YouTube video

Zepla HQ

"I've had an incredible experience, and it's such a blessing to get up every day and start up my favorite game in the world with all these people showing up excited for the stream to start," St. John said in a phone interview with Lifewire. "I never forget how grateful I feel about these people who take time out of their day to spend time with me." 

Quick Facts

  • Name: Jessica St. John
  • Located: Kiev, Ukraine
  • Random Delight: Fever pitch! A graduate of LSU, her career as a professional gamer reached its apex when she got the chance to interview Naoki Yoshida, one of the leading producers of Final Fantasy XIV and executive officers at Square Enix.

A New Crusade

Currently isolated in the Eastern European country of Ukraine, St. John had an unusual path to success. Born in a small Louisiana town before going off the LSU, she's been transient ever since with pit stops in Taiwan and now Ukraine. 

The catalyst for the streaming enthusiast's global journeys was forged in her youth. Enthralled by the spacious and fantastical worlds of video games, she's maintained a passion for new experiences and sights. One of her earliest gaming memories was watching her older brother traversing the iconic world of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

"I had always just wanted to reach out beyond the confines of this world that I had found myself in and how I could be different. Video games and immersive worlds were kind of a way to explore that," she said.

Religiosity was one brick she said built those walls of confinement in her life. Her family was especially religious, and it took leaving the nest for her to explore the world outside of that containment. A knack for exploration, in all its forms, was born. It’s what led the budding streaming to pursue teaching in Taiwan and eventually creative writing for a mobile video game company in Ukraine before landing in the world of content creation.  

A through-line that connects her many journeys is this constant feeling of isolation the streamer said she felt in these foreign countries she lived and worked in. Escapism through video games was her salve. Namely, massively multiple online role-playing games (MMORPGs) characterized by their interconnectivity and sprawling worlds. Her bias? Final Fantasy XIV.  

Not too familiar with the world of video making and streaming, St. John sought out YouTube videos to aid her in difficult aspects of the game. After discovering insufficiently in-depth tutorials, she thought she’d make her own. Her first video on YouTube is a gardening tutorial, which she said laid the foundation for her eventual ascent on the platform. She had found that community she was looking for. 

The Bun Fam

"I started playing this game when I wasn't in a good spot, and it lifted me out of a really bad time in my life where I needed hope and didn't have any," the FFXIV streamer said. "I want to share my joys and sorrow with [my community], and hopefully, they can see that." 

However, that ascent did not come easy. St. John remembers years into creating on the platform and live streaming, she had doubts about her future. That was until the bunny invasion. In 2019, the video game that had become her calling card introduced a gaggle of bunny girls in its Shadowbringer expansion. For whatever reason, this influenced her to remain steadfast.  

"The new bunnies motivated me to put my heart and soul into this game in ways that I didn't before," explained St. John. "I became more and more passionate about the game."

Zepla HQ talking about Final Fantasy XIV

Zepla HQ

It's the reason for her aesthetic choice to don bunny ears on stream and the namesake for her fandom: the bun fam. An unruly, yet helpful group, she describes the bun fam as an extended family she intentionally crafted as an anti-echo chamber. While her content is largely whimsical and inoffensive, St. John shines as a thoughtful creator with an attentive, detail-oriented nature around her content. 

The Zepla HQ community she's cultivated both on Twitch and YouTube is the thing that saved her life. From both the tedium of the regular work and the otherwise elusive connection to a greater world she had sought for years. 

"I often say FFXIV is a game that's greater than the sum of its parts, and I think the same can be true for my experience streaming," she said. "What started out as playing a video game on camera because it might be fun has evolved into an experience of global interconnection where we can… feel like we're not so alone."

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