Breaking into the streaming industry takes guts. When you go live on a stream you put yourself out there for the entire world to see. Not just nice people and not just bad ones. It’s part of the journey. As any streamer will tell you, building a community isn’t an overnight task. But some, like Twitch streamer Batgirl1314, are up for the challenge and are eager to chase their dreams.
As her name suggests, Batgirl is a woman streamer. She, like most of us, is a lifelong gamer. However, her experiences as a woman in gaming have been vastly different than those of her male counterparts. In a conversation with Batgirl, we discussed the challenges she’s endured. We talked about the early trials she had faced and the current difficulties she has to navigate. We talked about the good stuff too. She shared her thoughts on the sisterhood of women in video games and offered sincere advice for women looking to break into the streaming industry.
A Young Woman’s Experience with Xbox Live
Batgirl discovered her love for competitive gaming through Xbox. Like many teenage kids, Batgirl loved to game after school. She was an FPS kid, specifically interested in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. The second Modern Warfare remains one of her favorite games to this day.
Often among the top players in each match, Batgirl knew she was good. Despite this, she was often the least vocal player. I asked her why. As a COD player myself, I’ve always found communication to be a central part of the game. Still, there were people in games that I’d prefer not to hear. To me, the loud and rude players were merely annoyances that I could mute and ignore. But to her, they were more than simple annoyances. “I would do so well… I’d have the mic but I wouldn’t talk. – It got to the point I stopped using the microphone.”.
She realized early on that Xbox Live wasn’t always a welcoming place for women players. Each game the microphone would be plugged, but she wouldn’t talk. In times that she did, she remembers receiving backlash from male players. Insults and vulgarities were thrown at her for simply being a girl while playing a ‘boys game’.
It’s no surprise that fragile masculinity in online gaming was rampant back in those days. After all, it still permeates the industry today. Nevertheless, the ugly side of online gaming didn’t stop Batgirl. She was a girl playing a ‘boys game’ and she was good at it. She may have stopped using her mic, but she didn’t stop playing. As unsightly as party chatrooms could be, they weren’t a match for Batgirl’s resolve. She persevered.
Becoming a Twitch Streamer
Fast forward to 2020. Batgirl is still playing games regularly and has ventured into competitive PC gaming. Because of Covid-19 she has more free time than usual and wanted to fill the newfound space. With the support of her friends and family, Batgirl decided that she wanted to start streaming. As a result, Batgirl’s Twitch channel was born this past April. It wasn’t an overnight success. She put in the work and has been the recipient of tremendous support. Her friends have had her back throughout the four-month journey and it’s paid off.
Currently, Batgirl’s channel has roughly 300 followers. Anyone who has ever streamed on Twitch will tell you that growing a channel from the ground up isn’t easy. They’ll also tell you that developing a following is one of the hardest parts of the process. With this understanding, the fact that Batgirl’s channel already has 300 followers is a massive achievement.
Dealing with Internet Trolls
Another major factor in operating a Twitch channel is navigating internet trolls. In the same way that Xbox Live was tainted by toxicity, Twitch chatrooms and online comment sections are often filled with repulsive and hateful words. This isn’t anything you don’t already know. While talking to Batgirl, it became clear that her early encounters with male fragility in gaming had shaped the way she handles similar situations today.
The comments Batgirl receives are still as disturbing as they were ten years ago. Many male players still get frustrated at losing to a woman and lash out. But she’s ready for them.
What the hell are you doing here?” – “Is your boyfriend playing and you’re using the mic?” – “I hope you suck **** better than you play.”
The difference in 2020 is that Batgirl doesn’t turn off the microphone. She stands up for herself and is proud of her thick skin. Her channel’s community is a top priority for Batgirl, and her Twitch page makes that clear from the get-go. “No racism or sexism… respect me, as well as other viewers”. When comments like the few listed above are said or written, that viewer is banned. Period.
Advice from Batgirl to Future Woman Streamers
Batgirl explained that you are expected to be male when playing competitive PC games. But video games aren’t made for just men. Games are created to bring all people together. They are platforms for fun and enjoyment, and hurtful rhetoric has no place in gaming. Streaming follows the same principles.
Unfortunately, negative comments and chatroom trolls do exist. For Batgirl, the sisterhood between women in gaming is both a weapon and a shield that she uses to combat misogyny. She told stories about her and other women gamers teaming up in online matches. Whenever a male opponent would step out of line or shame one of them, the other women would come to their defense. It’s second nature for them to be there for each other.
I have met so many female gamers and we are all so nice to one another because we know what we go through
These bonds go beyond the controller. They don’t stop at her Twitch channel either. Batgirl offered some incredible advice at the end of our conversation.
Thick Skin and Self-Care
When asked what she would say to any woman looking to start a Twitch channel, Batgirl didn’t hesitate to comment. She reiterated that they’ll need thick skin. The road won’t be the easiest, but other women will support and protect them. Still, she recognized that having thick skin won’t always work. The biggest advice she offered emphasized the importance of self-care. Batgirl explained that taking time for yourself or stepping away from the stream is totally fine. It’s healthy.
The last bit of advice she offered was centered on being loyal to oneself. Batgirl drove home the fact that being yourself is more important than views and follows. If you aren’t loyal to yourself, who can you be loyal to? Her closing words were perhaps her most powerful. “Don’t change because they want you to”.