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I have a confession: I’m obsessed with the game Fortnite. Am I good? Meh… That’s debatable. But the world of gaming has fascinated me since I was little. I’m not too great at playing any game, myself, so my love of video games began as a spectator. I grew up around gaming, watching my older brother play Tony Hawk’s, Sonic, Super Smash Bros., Call of Duty, and more. So, as an adult, you can imagine my obsession with the platform Twitch. For those who don’t know, Twitch is a live streaming platform that was originated to focus almost entirely on video games. Since its creation, it’s expanded to include streamers dedicated to artwork creation, music, talk shows and more. But, nonetheless, the majority of Twitch still focuses on gaming.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Katie… You watch people play video games online? That’s SO lame.” Okay, BUD. It’s no different than anyone watching an NFL, NBA, or NHL matchup, or literally any other competition. The concept remains that we’re both watching talented people win at what they do best.
Moving on. Since I love Twitch, I also love the streamer Ninja (whose real name is Tyler Blevins). I’ve been a HUGE Ninja fan since he’s taken over battle royale-style gaming (mostly with Epic Games’ “Fortnite”), and have subscribed to his channel many times. He’s taken over Twitch by playing games with famous artists like Drake, Marshmello, Travis Scott, and more. Ninja’s net worth is even estimated to be well over $6 MILLION dollars. Yes, really. Suffice it to say, he’s the current frontrunner and leader within the gaming & streaming community.
With all of that said, I was incredibly saddened to learn that Ninja has a rule that he will never play any game with a woman gamer. His reasoning behind this is to avoid rumors and gossip in an effort to protect his marriage with his wife, Jessica (who I’m also obsessed with). To an extent, I get it. Things can be blown out of proportion in the online and streaming community. With that said, I also am a firm believer that if one acts professionally, they’ll get professional results. Period. Ninja eliminated cursing from his stream to be a positive role model for young ones, so why is this any different? If he can show young people (roughly 100,000+ per stream) that you can play a game without using offensive language, why can’t he show them that female gamers can be seen as professional colleagues and not “twitch thots” (a term commonly used throughout streaming)?
Here’s the big problem. Regardless of intention, Ninja is not letting women sit at the same table as him (which is a BIG ol’ table). In the gaming community, it’s not terribly difficult for Ninja to remain successful with his same-sex gaming rule because there are simply so few women at the top of this field (also in the case of technology, politics, law, and more). If guys like Ninja refuse to engage with women in their field, it’s the women who miss out because it’s ultimately still men who have full control of the gaming community. For now, female streamers don’t yet have the luxury to be successful AND omit playing with men.
Gaming is now a completely viable career for many. But for women, it’s personal rules like Ninja’s that keep girls’ gaming career prospects and exposure stifled. My two cents? Who the hell cares if some idiot online thinks you’re unfaithful because of a professional engagement with a female colleague? If ANYTHING, that kind of thinking simply enables even more idiots to create those rumors.
And sure, ultimately it’s Ninja’s choice to implement this personal rule and he has every right to it. I just think it’s a very sad move. I’m sure if Ninja has a daughter one day, he’d want her playing & destroying men at the top tier of every game. But with Ninja’s rule? She’d never have that opportunity. The end result is Ninja exclusively working with, mentoring, and promoting men over women in a field that already is dominated by men, REGARDLESS of if that’s his intention or far from it.
Until then? I’ll be subscribing to streamers who play with women frequently without issue. I’d be THRILLED to see Ninja change his stance, as it would be incredibly inspiring & healthy for Ninja’s young male audience to see him promoting women in his field. Maybe it’s time for me to brush up on my Fortnite skills and make it happen...