The desire and ability for the individual to create and share content grew exponentially with the introduction of YouTube in 2006. Early “streamers” debuted regular pre-recorded episodes of things as simple as game walk-throughs or “Top #10 Plays” compilations.
These were always fun to watch, especially with text overlays or camera zooms that made you laugh at just the right moment. The editing process for those videos must have been extensive!
Years later, the trend of filming yourself playing video games has become a normal, everyday activity. With live-streaming technology, so many more than just the OG Youtubers were able to rise in rank to reach millions of viewers worldwide with their gaming content.
As a ten-year-old who was learning the ropes of the Internet, I was inspired by their success. I felt compelled to give content creation a try in my free time. Over the course of a decade, I’ve experienced a whole evolution of video content creation.
I began producing my own YouTube content when I was 11. I started by making cute little music videos with Windows Movie Maker. This was a really fun (and time-consuming) activity, but most notably, I learned some super valuable hard skills in video editing that I’ve called upon in my adulthood.
When I was introduced to World of Warcraft, I started filming some of my raids and top PvP plays with audio overlay of our voice communications. I’d send the clips to my guildmates and friends. Additionally, I made guides for finding rare spawns in the game. It was a great way to combine both of my interests in video content creation and gaming!
When I started playing League of Legends more competitively in 2014, I started to broadcast some of my gameplay to Twitch. The first few streams that I broadcasted from my parents’ house were of horrible quality! My internet connection could not produce quality video feed, so I had to work with what I had.
The first broadcasts were fun to make, and even though it was just my friends (playing in the same games as me) watching, it felt exciting to put myself out there doing what I loved. After a few broadcasts, however, I got a little discouraged by the lack of viewership and decided to shut down shop for a while.
Fast-forward to 2018. After graduating college and moving into my own apartment, I was able to set up my battle-station in a larger area and equip it with FiOS, so streaming would be a bit easier and much less laggy. After settling in, I decided to give it another go with a bit more planning.
I developed a name and a message and just started being myself on camera while playing games with friends. I felt more comfortable this time and spoke freely. More followers started trickling in, and I had a small group of about 30 until real life obligations tore me from the screen.
Another move and a job change later, I found the time to pursue streaming again for fun but with more bells and whistles. With some of my unemployment money due to losing work from the pandemic, I invested in a higher quality webcam, green screen, and microphone.
Then I tried again. This time, with a little more intent. I figured I’d give it my full-time effort.
Then, my brand identity started to morph. I wanted to send good vibes out into the world in a time of darkness by building a community to help my viewers develop healthy habits.
I didn’t really know what to expect walking back into the Twitch scene in 2020. Before I went live again, I started watching popular female streamers to get an idea of the content that already existed on the site.
I took mental notes about presentation, attire, community engagement, etc. to get an idea of what expectations were of the general Twitch audience. After analyzing what I witnessed, it seemed that the more effort a female streamer put into her appearance, the larger her audience was. Whereas for male streamers, looks played virtually no role in determining their popularity.
Outside of feeling compelled to wear a bit more makeup than usual, I presented myself as I am. Sometimes I wear athletic clothes, sometimes I wear t-shirts, hoodies, and sweats. I would seldom “dress up” for streams. However, weird comments started trickling in nonetheless.
I decided that the best way to talk about healthy habits on stream was to show them. After undergoing a 70-pound weight loss transformation, I developed at-home bodyweight fitness routines and broadcasted them on Twitch in the mornings. In the evenings, I would casually play titles like League of Legends, The Sims, and Spyro while talking about life with my audience.
Unfortunately, during my fitness streams, folks would start talking about my body in a provocative way despite how clearly uncomfortable it made me. It was easy at first to silence and ban them, but it got really annoying after a sustainable few months and growing my following.
The continued verbal harassment, coupled with finding the consistent routine of streaming twice daily too limiting, led me to leaving streaming again. This time I was grateful to accept that despite trying three different times, streaming just wasn’t in the cards for me at this time.
The experience of full-time streaming, although short-lived over a period of 3 months, changed the way I view content creation. I hope that with efforts like Ritual Motion’s Women in Gaming initiatives, women can feel welcome and safe to play equally and fairly on the virtual field in every way, including their content creation.
With the help of everyone working tirelessly to bring equity to the gaming community, I hope that future female streamers won’t feel the need to look a certain way for the camera and instead feel inclined to present themselves as they are.
On that day, maybe I’ll turn the camera back on one last time. ^-^