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Happy 2020: A time of reflection

Good Morning.

As I write this, I am sipping my coffee at nearly 7 am New Year’s Eve morning. Not a typical time for me to be awake, but today I find myself reflecting. 

The end of a decade comes tonight. For half of that decade, I’ve been a mother. For almost a decade now, a wife. For over a decade, I’ve loved my husband and been loved by an incredible human who still amazes me. Near a decade, Vanri has been my best friend and so much more, my person. For decades Aiks has been my friend and guardian angel through some of the best and worst times. These are all blessings.

For most of the last decade, I have had the distinct pleasure of growing Real Women of Gaming. I saw us start as a Facebook page,  evolve to YouTube, then streaming. Grow into charity events, conventions. I’ve watched us help others, with tears of pride in my eyes. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing humans on the planet. They are my family and I wish I could impart to you how truly stunning each one of them is. How truly honored I feel at calling each of them, my family. These brilliant, courageous, beautiful human beings. 

In the nearly 7 years we’ve existed, I have learned so many lessons. Most about me, the rest about people in general. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve made personal strides, gone on crusades (I’ll have my masquerade ball, damn it!), and made many, many mistakes. I’ve fallen, stood up only to be knocked back down, and I’ve had several hands help me stand again.

Tomorrow will be a new year, a new decade. Reflection is due at a time like this. Looking back at the years, we’ve worked, we’ve laughed and we’ve cried. It’s time to step forward into a new light. To take all the work that has been done by so many people and roll it forward. Not alone; never alone. To bask in the beauty not only of what we have accomplished, but also in what we have yet to achieve. And we will achieve it. 

I’d like to say that we are stepping into 2020 ready to kick ass and take names, but that’s not happening. We are holding out our hands, pulling up a chair and inviting you to come to sit at our table. We are playing games without judgment or prejudice; we are enjoying all that these amazing masterpieces have to offer while accepting you, and us, for who we all truly are. 

We are sending out our love and acceptance to all of you. You are all included at our table. We aim to show you the passion, sweat, and tears of some of the most wonderful creators on the planet. Epic human beings who’ve made these masterpieces in the little spare time they have while working full-time jobs and going to conventions on weekends for something they love. To show us their heart, sometimes wrapped in a box with game pieces and cards, massive tales of adventure and characters you’ll fall in love with.

So as we prepare to step into 2020, which will be the most incredible year, we offer our hand to you. We’ve done so much but I promise you, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Happy 2020. May all of your hits be a critical success. 

With Love,
Crymson Pleasure &
Real Women of Gaming

10 Self-Care Tips for Streamers

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I started my streaming journey three years ago on the RealWomenOfGaming Twitch channel. I didn’t know much about streaming, but it seemed like fun being able to hang out with people while playing games in the privacy of my own bedroom. I remember the day well – which is saying something, considering I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.

I lived in Los Angeles at the time. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I played Funcom’s The Park for the first episode of a horror series called “Wanna Don’t Wanna.” I finished the game in about an hour, then I ended my stream.

Three years later, I still stream horror games for Real Women of Gaming. I’m on the Mixer channel now, with occasional appearances on Twitch. I also stream on my own 3-4 days a week under VanriTheRogue.

In my time streaming, I’ve come up with some self-care tips that help me. I’m really hoping they can help you too:

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How to Brand your Stream to Create a Lasting Impression

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Guest Post by: Kristen Heller

Introduction

When someone mentions streamers like, imaqtpie, Shroud, or KittyPlays, you probably know who they’re talking about. Each of them are some of the most successful streamers on Twitch, loved and followed by many.

What propelled them to such heights and how did they get so many followers, subscribers, and active viewers? Well, it’s a long journey and it takes a lot of hard work, but the most important thing to know is that you can reach this goal as well.

The Importance of Branding Your Stream

One thing that everyone can agree on is that the moment you see anything related to a successful streamer, you instantly recognize it’s them. Branding, as it turns out, is not something reserved for marketing departments; it’s super important in streaming as well!

Not many streamers think about branding when they first start out. In order to really succeed and grow your channel, you need to be easily recognizable. There are no templates here: be unique, be yourself. Viewers should know it’s you the moment they see your emotes, colors, and mascots, or hear your quotes.

What are the Key Elements of Stream Branding?

In order to start building your brand, you must think about what you wish to achieve with your stream, how you want your viewers to perceive and identify you. This is what branding is all about.

When a viewer enters your channel, what is the first thing they see? The game of course, but what else is there to it?

  • Are you streaming gameplay only, or are you actively commentating on gameplay?
  • Are you interacting with your viewers, do you talk about your day?
  • Do you have a camera set up, can your viewers see you? What about what’s behind you?
  • What does your channel say about you?

All of this is covered by branding, and here are some guidelines on how to make it work.

1. Stream Channel Design

The design is the most recognizable feature of your stream. It includes all the graphic elements that you can manipulate and design to represent you and your stream, like the logo, color palette, overlays, images, and emotes.

Unless you’re a graphic artist, chances are you’ll need someone to help you with your streams designs. Thankfully there are plenty of options, ranging from free to paid, for you to get someone to create your graphics for you.

Websites like Streamplay Graphics, and REKOYL would fall under your paid options for graphics, and if you’re looking for something designed for free, then you can often find designers on Twitter looking to offer free services, so they can build up their portfolios.

When you’re ready to start creating your graphics, make sure to choose a color palette that you will use throughout all the elements, from logo to overlays, images and emotes.

The logo is the most important of these elements – this is how viewers identify your stream. Build a logo that represents you – it can be linked to your username, your persona, your mascot, whatever you think will represent you best.

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2. Recurring Themes on Your Stream

These can be various traditions that you set up on your stream. They can be anything you want, like a unique quote that viewers associate with you, a unique name for your follower community, your mascots and more. Your viewers will associate them with you the moment they see them.

The background is also important, so pay close attention to what you put behind your webcam.

You can highlight various game merchandise, sponsor gear, fan made gifts, plush toys or mascots. A mascot can be anything. Many streamers go for plush toys, and later also turn into special icons for their community chat.

 

Some streamers, on the other hand, prefer to use a green screen so that only they can be seen on stream, so this is entirely up to personal preference.

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Facebook Introduces Monetized Streaming Service for Gaming

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Facebook is throwing their hat in the game streaming ring and hoping to compete against established video streaming services like Twitch and YouTube.  In case you’ve been living in a cave the last few years, game streaming is a unique medium where viewers watch people play games.  It has become big business for streaming services, but also for gamers, some of whom use it as their only source of income.  Facebook is going to offer creators a way to handle their streams, marketing, and monetization all through the popular social media platform that many already use to keep in touch with their audience.

According to the press release, the Creator Pilot Program is focused on a few key things:

  • Helping gaming creators build more meaningful and more engaged communities on Facebook than anywhere else
  • Increasing discovery and distribution across multiple surfaces, including Facebook.com, Instagram and Oculus
  • Supporting gaming creators with the types of tools they need to make a living streaming games on Facebook
  • Building a platform where creators at every level have the opportunity to thrive

The social media giant promises to work with creators and streamers to build features to help the community grow and creators to thrive.  One of the earliest features announced is the ability to stream in 1080p at 60fps.  Allowing viewers to tip streamers a minimum of 3 dollars while they are streaming is also a key feature with this roll-out.

Sign-up is very easy and there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for established follower count to create an account.  I signed up in just a couple of minutes and easily found the streaming page from their Creator page linked above but I have yet to find any link from my own Facebook page. One can hope that will be coming soon.  The other drawback that I notice is the stream key is not permanent so setting up multiple streams like I do through fragsandbeer.com, YouTube, and Mixer.com ahead of time would not be possible with Facebook’s streaming service.

Racism in Gaming: Why This Matters

pewdiepie-mental-health_750x400_acf_croppedI have to say I’ve been staring at this article about PewDiePie and his use of the n-word for a few days now, trying to formulate words to express how I feel about the situation.  Then someone in one of the comments sections said something that wasn’t unlike many others, though the lengths at which this person went to not only say it was okay because he apologized – and the apology was enough – but even continued to make him out to be the victim of slander for his previous issues.  Thus, trying to make those truly victimized by the use of this word feel pity for him instead.  

Wait?  What?  Even if we remove Pewds history of behavior from this situation, this one incident speaks loudly to a huge problem in the streaming/gaming industry. With him being one of the biggest faces of that industry, he absolutely should be held accountable.

So, here are my thoughts.  For me, it is not a debate. He absolutely could have apologized better. That better way would have been to not give an excuse as to why that word would be so readily available to his lips. “Other gamers do it” is not an acceptable reason. And I would say that about any streamer.

I talk about this subject very openly when given the chance, but I felt I could not just sit by and say nothing because this should be a dialogue we all are having about how this behavior affects a population of this industry.  I encounter racism in this industry and in regular life through multiple facets.  Streaming has, however, brought forward the most concentrated amount of racism I have ever encountered in my life.  It’s given me a unique glimpse into online harassment and though I knew it was something that I would face, it never makes it normal to just expect it and live with it.

There was no real “interpreting context” with how he said it here. It was quite clear he used the word and he used it to be derogatory.  Whether or not PewDiePie has been targeted before for his intent or misconstrued words in the past, this is not one of those instances. Though he is considered a comedian, it was not even said in a way that could even remotely be considered a joke.  He said it to hurt and that is exactly what that word has been used for for decades.  

Which brings me to another defense from various people on his part.  “Why in 2017 are people getting upset over a word?”  Um, because it is a word that came hand in hand with oppression.  If you are not a POC and continue to question this, that makes you part of the problem.  You do not get to tell a minority group still fighting for equality on so many levels a word does not hold any power.  That is not how it works.  Your view point is moot if you think that because PewDiePie most certainly knew what kind of power that word had when he so easily used it on his stream.  In his apology, he does say he used it because it was “the worst word you can think of” which means he knew the words power and still he found it justifiable “in the heat of the moment” to say.

Uhh no… that is not how that works. And the only way you see that working is if you have the privilege of never being on the receiving end of that action.

We see the trend growing. Powerful people making this kind of behavior OK for the rest. There is a fundamental problem already with these kind of actions towards all minority groups in the streaming and gaming industry and him being one of the biggest faces in it means a chunk of people will not care that he apologized but that he will get away with saying it with little to no recourse and that gives them the feeling of freedom to show their hate.

He is not the only one in the industry who does this, but he has now become one of the biggest faces of the “problem.” PewDiePie’s prior issues with the media and the like have nothing to do with this instance and the impact it does have on streamers who are people of color.  Streamers like me.  

No game play or heated moment makes using racial slurs, sexist terms or a derogatory word ever acceptable and the more people that stand up against this behavior the better.  Though when I see how many are making excuses and defending him, it becomes equally disappointing as it is frustrating. I hope for the sake of so many that it does start to change. Until then, I will speak up every chance I get and so should you.    

So how can you help?  Be an ally!  Make this behavior unacceptable and shameful again.  Speak up in game voice chat, in stream chat.  Never make it seem like it is acceptable by simply being silent. Ban slurs, derogatory terms in your streams and make it a place for all your friends and peers to be comfortable in. It may seem so simple, but the battle is a long fought one and nowhere near won when it comes to those affected by this behavior. Having allies to stand behind us makes us stronger and the community better.