JEDDAH: E-gamers are on the rise in the Kingdom, and Saudi female gamers are matching their male counterparts with their skillsets and tenacity.
The attention of e-gaming is growing among girls, especially with the appearance of platforms such as Twitch. Saudi female gamers are entering this platform strongly, achieving high ranks and attracting considerable viewership.
Twitch is an American platform that focuses on video game livestreaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions, and began gaining popularity in the Kingdom in 2017.
Arab News spoke to several Saudi women about their experiences on the platform. Catspawgirl is an avid gamer who live streams for five hours a day, and has been playing games such as Apex Legends and Overwatch since 2019.
“Twitch is the best full-time platform in Saudi Arabia, especially if you are a fan of a certain game and want to watch people play it,” she said.
Pikaloli, another Saudi streamer, said that there is no fixed monthly amount of cash to be gained from Twitch; it depends on people’s interaction and visits to the stream.
Catspawgirl explained that to start an account on Twitch, you must first have a PC or a console, and a desire for streaming: “The first year will be very difficult. There will not be many followers and support, and this may be the reason that people lose interest in this hobby.”
Pikaloli said: “Before starting a Twitch account, it is preferable to prepare your screen layout design and remember to introduce yourself and the games you would like to stream to attract new followers.”
Catspawgirl talked about attracting the audience by having a unique appeal. “I like to change my look in every stream so the audience will come back to see what I will be wearing, and I usually change my hair color and have a different makeup look every day.”
She advised girls who want to enter the Twitch world to communicate with their audience and not stay silent — “just be spontaneous, show enthusiasm and communicate.”
Pikaloli has another way of attracting an audience — as the first Saudi Vtuber, which means she uses a virtual avatar using computer graphics and motion capture software technology.
“I don’t want to show my face and, as a content creator, I always try to be exceptional, so I decided to appear as a virtual character that simulates my movements and facial expressions.”
Meshael MR, another Saudi Twitch streamer, said: “The streamer must have a future plan, enjoy every moment of the stream, find a unique feature in them and try as much as possible to stay away from problems and drama.”
She started streaming in 2018 and has more than 145k subscribers. She has supported other female gamers and has helped them to gain more skillsets.
“I really want to see the Saudi female gamer community grow. I know starting can be hard because of the social challenges but the acceptance is smoother now,” said Mashael.
Even with the added support from their communities, the gamers said that social media can be a difficult platform to break into, and break out of, too. There can be bullying, harassment, inappropriate comments, an unfortunate evil in the wide world of social networking.
“Social problems are inevitable, especially as a girl who plays and loves to communicate, laugh and talk a lot with followers. Sometimes I am harassed, and I face a lot of bullying, but with the click of a button, we can hide all the bullies and go back to our game,” Catspawgirl said.
Pikaloli added, “I consider myself lucky that my biggest fans are from Saudi and the UAE. Sometimes I get cyber-bullied by boys saying that girls belong in the kitchen, but funny enough, they end up following me after they watch me play.”
The Saudi gamer Bador Alhtheill commented that female streamers are hungry for success and have what it takes to become the best in the world.
Sami Al-Alwani, another Twitch gamer, said: “Girls are enthusiastic about creating unique content for the world of games, and their numbers are remarkably competitive with the international streamers. They have a huge following of all ages, and they influence a lot of people.”
GCON, Girl Gamers and Development community in Saudi Arabia, hold events and tournaments in the electronic games sector and support the female gamer community.
“We started our forum in 2012 supporting women gamers. We have created and hosted many events.” GCON said in its mission statement. “We have 13 streamers in the forum, and we have many projects in the development and production of games, esports and entertainment.”
GCON is encouraging female gamers to join Twitch, since unlike on YouTube the streamers there do not need to have editing skills.