Unconquered and Unwavering: The Internet’s Leading Women Streamers
The Impact of Streaming
Streaming has been a big part of the video game industry, bringing light to multiple obscure video games and putting them on the limelight, with the recent internet gaming phenomena that were Fall Guys and Among Us, and the longstanding Rocket League that also got a huge springboard from Twitch viewership, it’s difficult to deny the impact that streaming has had on video games and video game personalities like Ninja, Shroud and xQcOW who possess the lion’s share of viewership on Twitch. Streaming itself has also had a hand in allowing accessibility to E-Sports tournaments for any individual with a stream-capable device, with popular titles like Dota 2, Fortnite, League of Legends showing their world-famous championships on different streaming platforms. Furthermore, streaming has also shown to be a way to bring attention to social issues, as when U.S. Senator Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez streaming Among Us with other famous streamers, garnering 300,000 views even before the gameplay started. While streaming continues to grow, its doors open for more and more people to join, both as the entertained and as the entertainer.
The Issue of Inequality
However, streaming is far from being the perfect industry. A study has shown that Twitch conversations are strongly gendered, and that female streamers’ chats are more likely to have topics regarding their attractiveness and their bodies rather than actual game content, contrary to streams from males. It also doesn’t help that streaming viewership in Twitch is largely male, with only 35% of viewers being female. With streaming and video gaming continuing its evolution into a social platform rather than just an entertainment media to pass the time, the question of gender disparity and the objectification of women continue to be a challenge to overcome for anyone who participates in it.
Women in Streaming
Which is why it is important to show the women who have continued to stream and to entertain despite facing these multiple challenges and the unique obstacles that they have faced on their own and celebrate their achievements. Such as perhaps the most famous female streamer on the Internet, Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys. Before she started her Twitch career, Pokimane was a chemical engineering student in McMaster university, but later dropped out to pursue her streaming career full-time. She became well-known as a League of Legends and Fortnite streamer, having a meteoric rise of 450,000 followers on Twitch in 2017, and won the 10th Shorty Awards for Twitch Streamer of the Year in 2018 while being nominated for two other categories in the 8th Streamy Awards and The Game Awards 2018. She also co-founded OfflineTV with other content creators Scarra, LilyPichu and DisguisedToast, often making videos about party games, prank videos and vlogs.
Now, she is the 6th most followed channel on the platform, boasting 7.9 million followers and overtaking famous male streamers Myth, timthetatman, and xQCOW. She has expanded her content to variety streaming, ASMR, and continues to make content with her partners in OfflineTV.
Rachell ‘Valkyrae’ Hostfetter is this year’s most viewed female Youtube streamer, and is part Filipino and German. She graduated with an Associate in Arts from a community college and Washington and shared her gaming hobby online in Instagram, where she was encouraged by her followers and friends to try out streaming on Twitch, to which he did on 2015. She gained a small Twitch following, then grew making Youtube content, consisting of gameplay of different video games. In 2018, she was approached by Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag, founder of 100 Thieves, a gaming organization and a lifestyle company, to join them as their first female gamer and content creator.
Valkyrae later on left Twitch to stream on YouTube full-time, gaining a spotlight with her gameplay of Among Us with other popular content creators like Sykkuno, DisguisedToast, Pokimane and Jacksepticeye, passing Pokimane as the most viewed female streamer in 2020 and reaching a peak viewer count of as high as 100,000 during the tail end of the year, also being dubbed the ‘Queen of Youtube’. She was recently announced in April 7, 2021 as a co-owner of 100 Thieves, and has also won The Game Awards 2020’s Content Creator of the Year, and Adweek Creator Visionary Awards’ Gaming Creator of The Year. She now makes different types of content including lifestyle videos, music, and of course, video games.
Sweet Anita, real name unknown, is a Twitch and Youtube content creator with a rare form of Tourrette’s syndrome with coprolalia, which sometimes makes her go on tics of repetitive and explicit language. She has been repeatedly harassed by Twitch chat, sometimes forcing to trigger her tics and has been also issued death threats because of her neurological disorder. Despite this, she continuously streamed gaming content to her viewers on Twitch, usually playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, and regularly interacts with her audience. She is an animal rehabilitator and takes care of many pets.
Sweet Anita has participated in numerous interviews to bring awareness to the struggles of individuals with Tourette’s, and hosted fundraisers for the U.K.-based charity Tourette’s Action. Her viewer count is also nothing to scoff at, as she has 1.7 million followers on Twitch, and she has been nominated for Twitch Streamer of the Year at the 11th Shorty Awards on 2019. She continues to be a force for awareness and education on Tourette’s, creating a lot of content of its causes and the challenges one face with it.
We also have our very own Alodia Gosiengfiao, the ‘Queen of Cosplay’, Senpai Alodia of the Philippines, musician, singer, TV presenter, model and actress, who also happens to make vlogs on YouTube and stream on Facebook Gaming. Already having a following from her massive portfolio in different events related to cosplay, anime culture and entertainment, she quickly became a Twitch partner when she started streaming Dota 2 and League of Legends 7 years ago in 2014. In 2017, she co-founded the Filipino gaming and E-sports agency Tier One Entertainment with Tryke Gutierrez.
She announced her exclusive partnership with Facebook Gaming on 2018, and her viewer count averages above 100,000 every stream. She was one of the first Facebook Gaming partners in Asia and blazed the trail for other streamers to join the platform. She also teamed up with Sony PlayStation to promote Days Gone and Spiderman at E3 2018, where she and other Facebook Gaming partners participated in a meet and greet. She continues to add even more to her career today, fostering Filipino E-sports and content creation with other members of her organization.
Rewriting the Future
These four women are only a few examples to the talented, determined and hardworking female content creators we have today, who have achieved success despite harassment, discrimination, and objectification they face daily through their interactions on the Internet. As streaming becomes even more widely available for everyone, it should be imperative for all of us to change the narrative that video games are inclusive for everyone, that it is not just a male activity, and that success is not exclusive to what is only attractive to the male gaze. We have made some progress to include women in the conversation, but we are far from where we want to be, and further even more from where we need to be. Holding accountable those who harass individuals, educating the youth about gender equality, and practicing what we preach goes a long way, and it is with persistence through years of time, as these women did, that we will get there eventually. But all of this starts with us, with you and me, with the everyday folk that play video games and enjoy the streaming community, to change that narrative, and to slowly turn the community into one that truly welcomes and celebrates women, recognizing and celebrating their achievements and successes, and rather than looking at them simply to see the shape of their bodies, to see the stories that they share, and the individuals behind them.