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Content creators Brooke “BrookeAB” Bond, Jayla “Ninjayla” Thornton and Amanda “AvaGG” Myddleton led a panel discussion, Changemakers, about women in gaming and esports.
Non-profit organization 1,000 Dreams Fund and audio company JBL Quantum were behind the event, rewarding 30 recipients of the JBL Quantum Grant with $1,500 each to help them pursue their personal endeavors.
The panel began with 1,000 Dreams Fund CEO Christie Garton, who introduced the panelists along with Jaden LeBel as the moderator. NBA 2K cover star and WNBA player Candace Parker then congratulated the 30 winners of the JBL Quantum Grant. Parker said she wanted to show that young women can break the glass ceiling.
Challenges, passion and persistence
The Changemakers panel highlighted the challenges that women in gaming face and the importance of representation.
AvaGG noted that streamers are very attached to numbers, and those who wish to pursue streaming must learn to push through that.
Meanwhile, Complexity content creator and Apex Legends streamer Ninjayla said she had considered quitting in the past because she wasn’t sure if she could ever meet the Twitch partner requirements. She added that it was difficult to accept that it’s often about luck and opportunity. However, when she took a month off from streaming, she couldn’t get past wanting to stream again.
“It is something really real to think about—if you’re gonna be able to afford to live the way that you do and grind the way that you do,” Ninjayla said. “‘Cause I was going to school full-time, working full-time and streaming full-time. And so it was really hard for me to balance all those things, and I felt like I had to remove something from my life in order to get some balance.”
BrookeAB put an emphasis on safety. She recalled not being prepared for stalking, threats and name-calling. She hoped that over time, platforms would provide the tools to keep people safe.
Similar to Ninjayla, BrookeAB took some time off from Twitch. During that break, she realized how much she missed streaming and loved doing it as her job.
Additionally, all of the panelists emphasized the need to know one’s worth and look over their contracts when working with brands and companies. This can be done with the help of a friend, or a lawyer in more advanced situations.
Be present, be kind and take care of your mental health
BrookeAB, Ninjayla and AvaGG also provided advice to women and up-and-coming livestreamers.
“Go live when you can, go live as much as you can because you never know when that person’s gonna come in for a follow that’s gonna change your career with a host or [a] raid that’s gonna change your career,” BrookeAB said. “I mean, that’s how I got started. I had someone come into my chat and say, ‘Let’s play a game right now’ and that’s how it took off.”
She added how streamers would be doing a disservice to themselves if they go offline to try again later after seeing that they’re not getting many viewers. “Push through that,” she said. “Because I think you’ll never know what’s going your way.”
Meanwhile, AvaGG highlighted taking care of one’s mental health because streamers often get caught up in the grind and the numbers.
“I feel like that can help contribute to this bad cycle of getting depressed and feeling down ‘cause you’re not going outside, you’re not seeing your friends, you’re not taking time for yourself,” she said. “So, as my stream can attest, I take a lot of mental health days.”
Ninjayla noted the importance of always being at one’s best and putting the best possible content forward. This is because a streamer may not know who is watching.
Like AvaGG, Ninjayla put an emphasis on the mental health aspect of streaming and content creation. In response to a JBL Quantum Grant recipient’s question, she noted that taking care of one’s body is a must, alongside not taking mean comments to heart.
The future of women in gaming and esports
To Ninjayla, the future of the industry involves figuring out the right steps to take as a content creator in order to continue growing. She said that there are now a lot of new streamers who are grinding, so there’s a lot of competition in the field.
Ninjayla also hopes she can showcase representation, make the gaming space more inclusive and inspire people to start gaming, working towards a day when women can be present online without being judged or harassed.
AvaGG observed that gaming has become more inclusive over the past couple of years. She noted seeing more women leads in games and more representation generally.
As for BrookeAB, she advised that doing some branding outside of gaming is an option as well. She recalled attending New York Fashion Week and learning more about lifestyle fashion and makeup. “I think a lot of women are so talented in this industry and can do so much more within gaming and outside.”
For those who didn’t catch the Twitch broadcast, the panel is available on the JBL YouTube channel.
Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!