Hey there ladies and gents. Can I talk about something near and dear to my heart real quick? I know you’ll be shocked.
It’s about gaming.
And before you immediately stop reading at that, it’s also about misogyny. And equality. And potentially pornography. And there’s a fuzzy anecdote at the end. Rotten Tomatoes rated it a solid 7/10.
But seriously, this shit is important.
I’ve seen a lot of really ugly stuff coming up within the gaming community as of recent and I’m ready to throw in my two cents that nobody asked for (yet again).
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, there was a clip that was circulating a few months back of some enraged streamer whining about women in gaming. Or to paraphrase his words, the sluts here to take his subs and money.
And this kid wasn’t just some low-follower streamer. This was a Twitch partner. This guy was getting paid for this shit. And he was using his platform and place of honor on Twitch as an opportunity to flat out blame female streamers for his lack of subscribers and donations.
Sounds ridiculous? Let user “Trainwreck” tell you on his own accord.*
Let me just first say that after this whole debacle, his username absolutely tickles me.
This rant (which I’m sure went on for much longer but this is truly all that anyone can handle hearing out of this boy’s trash hole) only earned Trainwreck a five day suspension. And of course, a tacky, scripted apology was issued that I frankly could give less of a shit about. This dude’s mental instability and entitled attitude is really the least of my problems here. The problem I have with it is just how many men I see supporting this kind of opinion.
Alright, let’s break down the typical target audience for Twitch. As video games have traditionally been marketed to boys (that’s a whole different blog post I could write, see this video from Adam Ruins Everything), we’re safe to assume that Twitch has a larger male viewer AND streamer base than female. I’ve seen several numbers tossed around about the percentage of female streamers but the general consensus seems to be somewhere between 10-15%. There seems to be this stereotype that female streamers only get views based on the amount of cleavage they display and I see this stereotype often propagated by the Twitch community. Some like it, some go on insane rants and pretend that they’re the god of a few thousand 12 year olds. To each his own.
I saw a response to this rant from one of my favorite YouTubers and all-around good guy, Jesse Cox, that I couldn’t agree with more.
“…There is zero evidence to support [that] a person who watches one streamer would instead watch you if their favorite didn’t exist. Streaming is a personality based business. While searching for a game might be a gateway, it’s the personality of the streamer that keeps them… Lastly, this whole thing reeks of insecurity. If you think your audience is being stolen, if you fear you aren’t as big as you should be – it’s not a woman’s fault. Look in the mirror, figure out what works for you, deep dive those analytics, and worry about yourself… End of the day, this isn’t about attractive women showing cleavage- it’s about the fear some have that they’re failing and looking to blame anyone but themselves.”
This roughly sums up a lot of how I feel about the situation but I do want to elaborate on it some. I absolutely agree that streaming is personality-based. But I am not naive enough to ignore the fact there are indeed women out there that are “living out their cam girl fantasies” as I saw one user mention. In fact, just days after this situation with Trainwreck, user Nyakkj was suspended for allegedly masturbating for donations. And even more concerning: the suspension was only for 24 hours. While I don’t excuse Trainwreck’s rant, I find it concerning that Nyakkj only received a 24 hour suspension for what was essentially pornography. Where is the system of check and balances meant to keep punishments fair?
Let’s be clear on this. I completely support the people out there who are living their dreams playing video games for people all day long. I also fully support cam girls and any other woman in the sex industry. HOWEVER. Twitch is not the website for those things to coexist. The Twitch community isn’t filled solely with grown men and women; there is an ever-expanding population of underage viewers as well. I’ve had a handful of younger followers happen across my stream, even with mature filters on it (which are on because I swear a lot, don’t get any ideas). There are tons of young and very impressionable minds surfing the streams and Twitch is not a place for selling sex, nor is it a place for promoting misogyny.
I watch that clip and I start to wonder how some men can have such a hatred towards women. A hatred that makes their teeth clench and their neck veins bulge. But I guess, deep down, I know. I see the representation of the beautiful girl turning down the nerdy kid all the time in pop culture. And I see the online communities spring up around boys who feel that they’ve been wronged, that the women around them owe them something. That they can’t even share a hobby with women, as if gaming belongs to them as their only solace in life. A safety net away from the succubi. It’s exhausting.
I’ve made plenty of guy friends in the gaming community that are good-natured. And a lot of them have been burned by really nasty women who haven’t been taught how to be decent human beings. But to generalize every woman as such and claim that they have no place within the gaming and streaming community based on your personal experiences is ridiculous. Gaming isn’t gendered. And it doesn’t belong to any group of people. If you want to exclude women from gaming, you can forget about every game that was designed and developed by women. Have fun without Dragon’s Lair, Mass Effect, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and countless other titles. My favorite indie game, Fran Bow, was designed and developed almost entirely by a woman. Women are in gaming. Everywhere. There comes a time when we just have to say it: grow up.
It’s not a secret that video games have given me a lot of comfort it difficult times and I’m sure this is the case for a majority of people in this community. We’re all looking for a distraction or a connection and Twitch has become a wonderful place to do that. But we need to keep these communities open and welcoming. Be kind. Be smart. To put it bluntly…
Don’t be a dick. Plain and simple.