Streaming isn’t just about playing video games online, it’s about creating a sense of community. And that’s what trans streamer MiaByte does best. As an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, she aims to educate her audience as much as entertain them.
A variety streamer who just celebrated her fourth anniversary as a streamer, she’s found great success playing Warframe but is a huge fan of narrative games and Metroidvanias. She’s also a self-confessed weeb and has loved anime since childhood.
Keep reading as we chat community, Warframe fanfic, Twitch tags, and shared love for Final Fantasy VII.
When and why did you start streaming?
I started streaming back in 2016. I just moved into my own place because I’d started a new self-employed job as a motion graphic designer. I wasn’t playing video games anymore, it just seemed like a waste of time and it seemed I needed an excuse to do it. I had just come out as trans back then. I had no real connections with people, so I thought I may as well find some solace online talking to random strangers on the Internet! I started very small on my Macbook up in my little bedroom playing Metroidvania games. And eventually, it started snowballing and grew from there!
It seems finding friends online is a big impetus to start streaming for a lot of people…
Honestly, Twitch as a platform has connected me with so many wonderful people, some of the best people that I’ve ever met in my life and some of the best friendships I’ve ever had. Even with some people that I’ve never even met in real life, which is crazy to me! I think the key is that if someone is finding you online and connecting with you online, then it’s not a forced proximity relationship, they actually care about you as a person.
What games do you prefer to stream?
I’m a little bit all over the place in the games I tend to stream. Currently, I’m playing Dead By Daylight and I’ve been heavily invested in Warframe in the past, so live service games are pretty good. But I used to play a lot of narrative-driven story games. The whole impetus for my stream is wanting to take people on an adventure, something that’s meaningful and will connect with them, or just something that we can experience together and then talk about afterwards. Or doing the just chatting thing and talking about world events and the horror that is 2020!
You call your viewers adventurers, where did that come from?
I can’t remember where that popped up from, it’s just something that I started doing and I think they resonated with it. It’s this stupid, weird idea (and this is more appropriate for 2020) you can treat every opportunity every day as a little adventure. Streams for me are kind of that: video games are little adventures.
What can people expect from your stream?
Weirdness I guess?! A lot of weirdness. I don’t really have a plan, which some people like. They like that I’m genuine and put myself out there, I guess that’s what attracts people to me. I’m an advocate for things like trans rights, LGBTQ rights and human rights in general. I have an overwhelming urge to share experiences with people as well as encourage people to educate and share their knowledge with others but be willing to listen and learn. Never take pleasure in peoples’ misfortune – that’s one of the main things I try and encourage, just be kind to each other. Being there for people and aiming to make somebody’s day a little bit better is the main thing I try and do.
What got you so into Warframe?
I had some content creator friends who were into Warframe at the time, and it was always one of those games that was in the zeitgeist and had good viewership on Twitch. I actually think it’s the game that got me a lot more attention than anything else. It’s a game that I just really loved and it was naturally an easy game to just lose your mind to. You can just play it with your brain switched off and focus on the chat, rather than a game that you have to be hyper-focused to play.
How do you balance playing it with interacting with your community?
Here’s the thing, you’re super overpowered in that game! So that definitely helps. As soon as you get a good weapon and a good warframe, you can mostly out-level the enemies in the game and just farm. I specifically like melee builds so I can just run around mashing the melee button with a tanky character that won’t take damage and it’s the easiest thing in the world.
And I saw you were reading some Warframe fanfic recently…
Oh you saw that? The writer of it was begging me to stop and I had to respect that in the end. It was definitely going to a place that would’ve gotten me banned off Twitch!
You described yourself as an advocate – how do you find being an out LGBT streamer?
It’s complicated because there are pluses and drawbacks obviously. You get a lot of hate on Twitch. It doesn’t happen nearly as much recently, but when I was an up and coming streamer a few years back I’d get somebody in every single day talking about my appearance or telling me to kill myself. I don’t see it as often now. I feel like I’ve fostered that community and I have the privilege of passing that little bit better. Most of what it is now are people asking if I’m a boy or a girl and we’ve turned that into a meme where they’re Professor Oak in chat! There are inherent positives of course, and that’s the thing I love about being open about myself on the platform, it’s bringing in other LGBT people into my space and inspiring people to be their best selves. There are several trans women that have contacted me and said that I was directly the reason they ended up coming to terms with the fact they were trans. And that’s the most meaningful thing that has happened to me since I’ve been on Twitch, to know that I gave someone the courage to be themselves.
Is Twitch supportive of the LGBT community in your view?
I think they are to a point. And that point is only June! In Pride Month, Twitch is out in force for LGBTQIA+ streamers and that’s great that they put people on the front page, that they have that visibility there and show diversity in the community. But it does seem like that’s the one month we get and outside of that it’s just a sea of white cis male faces on the front page of Twitch for the rest of the year. I definitely think they could be doing more to raise LGBTQIA+ streamers up and help people to find them.
We do have that tag. Twitch has said that allies can use it and I’m in two minds about it. It’s great to have that support but at the same time if I’m using that tag I’m wanting to find somebody who’s LGBTQIA+ rather than somebody who’s just an ally. The problem I have with tags now is that there’s no specific tags for trans people or gay people or people that are bi. I and others have been very vocal about having a specific trans tag and more diverse tags within that [LGBTQIA+] umbrella.
What advice would you give to gaymers wanting to start streaming?
I would ask them what they’re after. Are they after fame and fortune? Are they after just connecting with people? Because you see a lot of streamers coming on to the scene now who are very expectant and will think that they will just start streaming and blow up and make all kinds of money. You can’t come in and expect growth, this is an oversaturated platform – even more so now that Mixer got shut down – and it’s going to be incredibly hard to grow on the platform. I would say go in with no expectations, if it works it works and if it doesn’t then keep at it but don’t quit your day job! You can start small, you don’t need to have the best equipment. Just go in, be genuine and try to connect with people.
You describe yourself as a total weeb, what got you into anime?
I guess that was Cartoon Network back in the day! It was just weird and different at the time. You had all these straight up Western shows back in the day that were pretty much…not carbon copies of each other, but you could tell that Eastern animation was very different and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I was drawn in by Cardcaptors and Dragon Ball Z back on Cartoon Network…oh Pokémon as well! Being 8 or 9 and seeing Pokémon blow up the way it did and then seeing more anime on television and online. In fact, one of the biggest things that got me into anime was Ranma ½, which was when I was a little egg closeted trans girl who didn’t know what she was. Seeing Ranma ½ really connected with me. It was kind of wonderful and dragged me down that rabbit hole.
What’s the game that defined your childhood?
Early childhood I remember playing a lot of Super Mario Bros for the NES, because we had a NES in the house. [Later on] I ended up getting a PlayStation and as somebody who was dipping their toe back into gaming, Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy VII just pulled me in. I’m in love with narrative games, a good story gets me every single time. Escapism has always been a big deal for me and video games were there for me. In gaming you can be anything and do anything, offering people that chance to have that self-expression and fall into a netherworld where you just fall in love with those characters and those stories and it takes you away. One of my favourite game series is The Legend of Zelda and I extremely resonate with Link’s Awakening because it’s about escaping into a dream world which really just hit home for me.
What’s your game of the year so far?
Oh Final Fantasy VII Remake definitely! It’s the best game that I’ve played this year hands down. A lot of it is probably based on nostalgia, I’ll admit it, but seeing those scenes reinterpreted, seeing everything that I loved about that game so much presented in a new form and seeing it so cinematically, it was a dream come true. That sounds really cheesy but it’s true! I appreciate it as a remake but also a sequel of sorts. That’s one of the reasons it’s my game of the year so far: it’s not just a direct remake it’s doing something different.
To find out more about Mia, catch her streaming on her Twitch channel, MiaByte.
Don’t forget you can vote for your Streamer Of The Year at the Gayming Mag Awards right here!