Inevitably, each new medium has its own celebrities. Just as video killed the radio star, the rise of each new medium has given rise to a new crop of stars, vine stars, Twitter stars, YouTube stars... but today we’ll be examining a different kind of celebrity: Video game players.
Famous Female Video Game Celebs
Video games may seem like a surprising realm for the rise of prominent female celebrities but there are many popular female celebrities that found fame far before this recent boom in streaming. Celebrities like Felicia Day whose web series The Guild was modelled on her World of Warcraft gaming and host of the G4 network Olivia Munn both found success in being closely tied to a gamer identity. However, as geek culture becomes more and more mainstream we see the rise of platforms like Twitch, a live streaming platform for games. It is here that we begin to see not celebrities who game but gamers becoming celebrities. Twitch host is to a wide number of prominent female gamers from all around the world such as Loserfruit, an Australian channel owner with 400,00 followers, or Pokimane who streams the game League of Legends to her more than 700,000 followers. However, for these women gaming is not just a hobby that they share with the masses - it’s their full-time job. One prominent twitch streamer is 26-year-old ItsHafu, also known as Rumay Wang. Wang, a Chinese-American streamer, is a professional Hearthstone and World of Warcraft player. Since Twitch’s launch in 2011 she has garnered half a million followers, a success that she partly attributes to her long streaming hours – she can stream from anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week. To put her success in perspective many established celebrities that come to the platform have significantly fewer followers. For example, Patrick Rothfuss author of the New York times best selling KingKiller Chronicles has around 34,000 followers, while Being Human actor Sam Witwer has 17,000 followers, a fraction of Wang’s followers.
But Wang’s career outdates the medium of Twitch, as Twitch is not the only medium where one can earn a living as a professional gamer. Wang has been playing professionally for over ten years ranking first in two 2008 MLG (that’s Major Gaming League) tournaments and the NA Blizzard Regionals. It’s in these tournaments that gaming becomes something else entirely, it becomes eSports, much like poker or darts players from all around the world come together to battle for the top spot and the prize fund.
In the realm of eSports, streaming services like Twitch and Google stream mean that not only is it easier for gamers to broadcast their activities it’s easier for fans to learn from them. This extends to a number of realms of recreational activity that have begun to take advantage of the online space. Indeed, poker seems to be one of the most accessible with a number of sites where users can learn the game online through poker sites and casinos offering live casino poker games, which is a great way for brand new players to get started and learn the craft.
Another hobby that has benefited from the online boom is diet and fitness, which has seen an impressive rise of online fitness vloggers who give away the sort of tips, fitness plans and meal suggestions that a personal trainer would usually charge for. With these celebrities and sites making information more accessible now is a better time than ever for people - and especially young women - to become influential internet celebrities in their favourite hobbies.
Back to gaming ladies though, many streamers also compete in tournaments which can be extremely lucrative. Marjorie "Kasumi Chan" Bartell managed to earn $50,000 from a single tournament in which she played Dead or Alive. Katherine "Mystik" Gunn the world’s top professional female player earned an impressive $122,000 from three tournaments. Competitive poker has been a field that has also seen a number of female competitors flourish. It is also arguably an even more lucrative field than gaming. Players like Victoria Coren Mitchell and Vanessa Russo have taken home millions in earnings. The world’s top player female, Vanessa Selbst – who won the North American Poker Tour twice in a row - has brought in over 10 million over the course of her career.
Gamers have benefited immensely from their medium going online. They no longer have to rely on tournaments to make their living. Online platforms have made it significantly easier to gain large audiences and fame. The easy accessibility of these platforms has also democratised the field meaning anyone can become a gaming star. But. arguably, the most important impact of these online celebrities is the ways in which they have opened the door to encourage more girls to go for what they like, not necessarily what's traditionally considered feminine.
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