I recently attended TwitchCon in San Francisco and was drawn into a conversation with a fellow booth worker about women on Twitch. We ended up chatting about that myth that we all hear brought up every once in a while: that women streamers have it easier on Twitch.
Twitch.tv is a video game streaming website. People tune in to watch their favorite streamers play games. There are many different playstyles to enjoy, from Speed Running to eSports to personality-driven streams. The variety is as wide as any television viewing experience.
For anyone who watches or streams on Twitch, it has been impossible to escape the conversations about female streamers. Sometimes it’s the simple pushback argument that women are invading male spaces, and sometimes it is ranking and listing the best and hottest girl gamers on Twitch. For some reason, female streamers fascinate the Twitch audience, and as a result, a lot of conversation takes place around them.
By far the most annoying “myth” of the female streamer that I’ve heard, is the belief that women are “stealing views” and using their boobs to become more popular. The basic premise is that women are dressing and acting provocatively in order to appeal to the mostly male fan base on Twitch. This leads to an additional argument that these women are making it harder for “serious” female streamers to be on the platform.
In a recent article on DW, streamer Renee Reynosa noted that “People will still say, ‘Oh well she’s only famous because she shows her skin’ and, ‘She’s showing her boobs! She’s going to become the top streaming because she’s showing her boobs!'”
There have been complaints that female streamers tend to have larger camera settings than males, and that they position the camera pointed down to highlight their cleavage. I decided to check the numbers to see if these purported tactics were actually giving female streamers an unfair advantage.
According to Quantcast, Twitch’s user base is 93% male, mostly between the ages of 18 to 34 years old. The site sees 54.7 million monthly unique visits, which is a whole lot of male viewers.
So are these males hungry for viewing some bare lady flesh?
A look at the Top 100 Most Viewed and the Top 100 Most Followed channels says otherwise.
According to SocialBlade, of the Top 100 Most Followed Channels on Twitch, only eight belong to female streamers. Not a single female streamer has broken into the top 10 or top 20 most followed lists either. The highest ranked female streamer, by follows, is omgitsfirefoxx at number 25 on the list. And omgitsfirefoxx has not even broken the Top 50 for most channel views. In fact, no solo female streamers have broken into the top 100 list for most channel views.
The only question my research was unable to answer is whether female streamers receive more donations than male streamers. It seems to be mostly hearsay and supposition, so anyone with concrete numbers and sources is welcome to send me the information. However, I must point out that donations are not a built-in Twitch mechanic, and therefore it is very unlikely that women accepting donations are affecting the Twitch platform in any way.
So what does all of this mean? It means that despite what you may have heard about the supposedly sex-based tactics many female streamers employ, white males remain the most successful streamers on Twitch.
So where is the rhetoric coming from? There haven’t been any studies on the Twitch community in particular, but it’s hard not to see this backlash against “sexy female streamers” as just more of the same anti-gamer girl rhetoric we’ve been seeing since social media gave everyone an online forum in which to share opinions.
As a streamer, I’ve been told everything from “suck my dick” to “show your boobs or gtfo” to “get back in the kitchen, whore!” But I’ve also made amazing friendships, taught people how to dance, captured some truly awesome gaming moments, shared tips and lore, and built a relationship with a group of people that I treasure.
Twitch has been an awesome way to share my love of gaming with the world, and it just grinds my gears that people suggest that women are somehow ruining it, just like the claims that we’re somehow ruining video games and television.
So enjoy your streaming guilt-free, ladies! Wear a tank top if you want to! Angle the camera down because you know your angles! And play some games.
And the next time someone tries to suggest that “cam whores” have it easy and “real streamers” have to work for it, show them some numbers and then maybe one of your fingers.
You know the one.