In the past couple months, video game streamers have been the focus of some concern. As a result of the rise in streaming video platforms (such as twitch.tv), and a trend of hyper-competition, the worth of many professional streamers has soared so that annual salaries of a million or tens of millions of RMB isn’t big news. Some “video game streamers” therefore depend on the video game supply chain to survive, and this previously marginalized career has become the focus of industry debates.
In streaming circles, male streamers are often known for technical and practical prowess, with good looks and a sense of humor as bonus traits. On the other hand, female streamers are hired due to preferential treatment as a result of their gender– they attract an audience of nerds and otaku, and some girls who have no video game skills succeed instead by acting cute and showing their bodies to generate economic benefits for themselves.
Gradually, female streamers have become less about representing girls who love video games, and more about innuendo and controversy. The media has even bluntly stated that female streamers can become popular online, but only as “tools to placate sexually repressed nerds”.
In the male-dominated market of video games, the objectification of female streamers requires more consideration.
When discussing women’s rights and interests in video game circles, it’s important to discuss the industry’s respect for women. Due to the universal emphasis on male gamers, the relatively low status of female gamers is an indisputable fact and can be the root of female casters receiving little respect from audiences, and their subsequent desire to cause controversy and act in an undignified manner as a means of garnering attention.
The fact that female streamers often get into disputes with streaming platforms over unpaid wages is one of the best pieces of evidence that they are not respected. Recently, a famous female streamer named Xifa published a denouncement of a certain streaming video platform because they had been deferring her wages. She stated they were “for various reasons behind in paying wages”, “so I haven’t received a penny from them”. Now streaming under the name “gaming Queen” she says that some video game media companies were withholding her pay, making it so unbearable that she chose to quit.
On the other hand, streaming video platforms and brokerage companies usually adopt incentive programs to coerce female streamers into acting sexy in order to attract followers, and require them to completely abandon dignity while working.
In her statement, Xifa said that during a live broadcast once, the brokerage company requested that she “wear a bikini in a bubble bath, promising to give her 10,000 RMB ($1,611 USD) as a reward”. This brokerage company always encouraged female streamers to dress sexily, with a motto of, “tease audiences more, play games less.”
Another famous female streamer, Xie Yi-Tong, was wearing thick clothing while participating at a university tournament. When she came on stage, fans began demanding she take off her clothes. The audience was loudly chanting, “Take it off! Take it off! Take it off!” All of this serves to show how low their status is, and level of respect female streamers receive from the industry.
Because streaming video platforms are open to anybody, there is intense competition among streamers, meaning that the average income of streamers is quite low. Many female streamers therefore hope that they can get ahead by showing their bodies and being scandalous.
According to the data provided by an anonymous streaming video platform, there is currently intense competition among streamers, but the number of female streamers is gradually increasing. Their website has more than a thousand streamers, of which women accounted for almost 40%.
There is now little difference between video game broadcasting and entertainment media. Well-known, fully-fledged studios simply suck in cash, while those that are third or fourth-tier or completely unknown await their shot at fame by increasing their publicity. They expect to become famous all at once by causing some scandal. A streaming video platform employee divulged that, “there are more and more female streamers, but not all of them have a background as professional players. For the attention of male gamers, they’ll often do anything.”
However, being scantily clad no longer meets the appetite for scandal that female streamers seem to have. Forgetting to turn off the camera while changing clothes, broadcasting even when they have menstrual cramps, cutting themselves because of insults from viewers, broadcasting sex… It works as a method of igniting endless discussion, but it also causes many viewers to sigh with regret that female streamers just keep sinking lower.
There are a few successful female streamers standing at the top, who are both beautiful and proficient, with live content that actually focuses on video games. Those streamers who only adopt a sexy act to try to get famous won’t get very far. Inciting scandal might attract some attention, but it’s not a long-term solution.
It’s not against the law, there’s reasonable supply and demand, and it doesn’t hurt anybody, so as far as female video game streamers showing off their bodies and inciting scandals, there’s no reason to prohibit or ban it. There is only a need to discuss this issue on a moral and ethical level, and hope that the industry becomes somewhat healthier.
All these behaviors revolves around the single word “profit”. Using sexuality as a means to make a living leads only to objectification of female streamers and being seen as “sexual objects for nerds”.
Female streamers who want a foothold in the industry and long-term development should put more effort into video game skills and understanding. There’s no reason to require that all female streamers be paragons of chastity, but even to make money you should still hold onto a little bit of your dignity.
This article was directly translated from the source.