Representation on Twitch
Twitch has morphed into a prime space for creators, giving them a pathway to make a living on their originality and ideas. Originally a space dominated by gamers, it is now a corner of the internet that spans various content as well as creators. For Asians on Twitch, the accessibility of the platform as well as the ease of getting started has encouraged members of minority groups to carve out their own niche.
Similar to how Youtube’s early days became a thriving space for Asian American creators, likewise creators are finding and carving out a space for Asians on Twitch.
Cold Tea Collective got to speak with two Twitch creators – ThatBronzeGirl and itsHafu – on their experiences as a Asian American women in the Twitch world.
An Online Life
Rumay Wang, otherwise known as itsHafu, has played games since she was 14. Fast forward to the current day and she’s a former professional competitor in esports and one of the most followed Variety category streamers on Twitch.
She’s been on Twitch for a decade now and has seen both the platform and the community change.
“Back in the day, misogyny was so ingrained in the gaming community that even women hated women,” Wang said. “I felt isolated and shunned when I first streamed.”
Since then, there’s been both an increase in protection of creators by the platform as well as more women in Twitch. Still, people can be cruel, especially toward someone in the minority for gender as well as ethnicity.
Creating and Monetizing Content
Jasmine Bhullar, also known as ThatBronzeGirl, occupies a slightly different space of Twitch from Wang. She describes her content as “a veritable cornucopia of flavor,” ranging from video games to hosting a talk show to reading comics.
For her, Twitch is an alternative way to create content and monetize it. Due to the platform’s accessibility, Bhullar can start creating content rather than waiting for approval. This comes with its pros and cons, namely that while she is independent, she has to wear many hats. Not only does she need to create the content but also the marketing for it as well as the analytics.
On top of the logistic aspect of being a creator, there is still a possibility of hateful comments.
“Being a minority in a space can be intimidating, but it’s worth it,” Bhullar said. “I recommend finding people that share your values and your vision, locking arms with them, and charging forward fearlessly. Nobody can do this alone.”
Identities and being Asian on Twitch
“I think in some ways being a Twitch streamer has affected the way I view being Asian in America as well,” Bhullar said.
Bhullar spent the first half of her life in India. She was used to being part of the visual majority and moving to America turned the tables on her. That sense of “other” was affirmed with the audience comments and feedback on Twitch.
“There were so many desi women who were just excited to see someone like them streaming and talking about things they could relate to,” she said.
Noticing that, she decided to be intentional with her content. She began to use her streams to add cultural context and discuss lesser known history, such as the India-Pakistan Partition. She also encouraged her audience to get involved and was able to raise over $20,000 for Asian charities.
Community is ingrained into Twitch and is something both Wang and Bhullar spoke highly of. Even Twitch calls itself a “universe of communities” and has resources for new streamers to cultivate their own space.
Wang said that the support and community of Twitch is one of the most rewarding aspects of the platform. She finds that connecting with others over a shared interest is special. When it gets hard, she tries to return to that.
“Although the internet is a harsh place, there’s also a lot of love and support,” she said.
Bhullar had a different aspect of community that she wanted to emphasize. To her, community is something to protect and advocate for in the digital space.
“Ultimately as a streamer, even if it hurts your overall numbers, you should take a stand somewhere and speak out for marginalized voices in your community,” she said. “To me, that’s how you curate a community that is actually a community.”
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