Almost all games involve some form of role-play, be it a legendary green elf, a badass tomb explorer, or a character of your own creation. But for some Twitch streamers, role-play takes on a whole new meaning when certain games are modded and tweaked to allow for entirely new scenarios to play around in for an audience.
Nikatine is one such streamer, who regularly role-plays in Grand Theft Auto as a variety of different queer characters. But role-play formed a part of her gaming childhood too as she used game characters to explore her trans identity.
Since then she’s not only defined her stream as a welcoming place for all queer people questioning themselves, she’s founded the Transmission Gaming group as a safe space for trans gamers to find one another.
Read on as we chat GTA, the importance of LGBTQ+ representation online, and crash landing in Microsoft Flight Simulator…
When and why did you start streaming?
I started streaming way back in 2016. Overwatch had just come out and I really thought it would be cool to be an Overwatch streamer. So I tried it for a good month and I noticed very quickly that the only audience I was getting was trolls. I was still under the impression that anybody could just come along and put on a show and as long as you have your heart in it people will watch. But really it’s a lot more about being strategic with your content. I got a bunch of trolls and got really disheartened and quit for a little while. And when I came back later, I really wanted to provide an example of trans content to other trans people. When I transitioned 8 years ago or so there just weren’t many examples of trans people online. So I started doing Kerbal Space Programme when I came back (it’s like the nerdiest game!) and then I branched out into Cities: Skylines and other stuff. Now I do role-play, which again has another community involved. Actually I would venture to say that the community for role-play is more intrinsically connected because of the way role-players’ stories intertwine.
You stream a lot of role-play in Grand Theft Auto. How does it work?
There are specific role-play servers where server owners and modders have created whole different overhauls of the GTA universe. These role-play servers are so vastly different and completely divested from the original GTA experience that they’re completely different games. There are map modifications, custom interiors, every server has it’s own character creator, there’s emotes you can do, inventory management systems, weapons overhauls. The point of the game is not to shoot people, kill people, or rob stuff, the point is just to tell an interesting story. You can role-play anything, you can be a mail carrier, you can be a doctor, a nurse. I know somebody who plays as an out of work fireman! There are literally no limits to the things you can role-play as in GTA because it’s contemporary, it’s vast and it’s so customisable. It’s probably one of the reasons I gravitate towards GTA, it’s a big fun sandbox to play around in.
What else do you stream?
I do other kinds of content as well. I’ve been doing a lot of watch parties. I get really into flight sims. I got partnered on Twitch from doing Elite Dangerous role-play as a bounty hunter and I winged up with a bunch of people. I still have a place in my heart for flight sims. I’ve been playing a lot of Microsoft Flight Simulator lately.
I saw one of your videos where you were crashing a plane…
That sounds about right!
What’s more important, playing games online or finding community?
So I’m bad at games! I’m actually genuinely very bad at games. I suppose Twitch for me is really a lot less about being good at games and more about being entertaining or telling a story or bringing the community together. Role-play is fun for me because I don’t have to be good at the game, I just have to create a character and play pretend for a while.
What can people expect from your stream?
I tend to play pretty over the top characters in role-play scenarios. All of my characters are over the top and a little bit queer in some way. I play a little old lady character called *granny voice* “Doris McMildred”, she’s got 39 cats and I just read off all the names in chat. I guess I do over the top flight sims now too: panicky, tense, outrageous flight sim stuff. The biggest difference for my stream is really a very welcoming community. Most of the people who watch my stream are queer in some way. So there’s definitely a big queer presence on my stream just in general.
How do you find being an out LGBTQ+ streamer on Twitch?
There are a lot of ways in which being an openly queer streamer on Twitch is very rewarding. I’ll get DMs or messages or chat messages all the time from people like “I’m so glad I found your stream, I’m so happy I was able to see somebody like you, I’m questioning myself and you’ve really helped me figure things out for myself”. It’s really rewarding to hear that stuff and there’s no job I’d rather do than one where I get to help people that way. And I will say it comes with a cost, the cost being an outrageously high number of moderation actions. My mods are some of the most dedicated, coolest people! They watch my stream like a hawk and they’ll ban people for trolling me sometimes before I even see them. We probably ban at least a couple of people a day, probably more.
Do you have any specific methods of dealing with trolls?
I think acknowledging trolls is really what they want. The biggest draw for going to troll a Twitch streamer has to be to get the streamer’s attention. So if my mods ban them before I even acknowledge them then we kind of win! Plus the stream isn’t for them, it’s for the community, for my audience.
Why is LGBTQ+ visibility important in the streaming community?
It’s not just within the streaming community, it’s everywhere online and in person too. The LGBTQ+ community is vastly under-represented in online space for lots of platforms, Twitch is no exception. But LGBTQ+ spaces are important because LGBTQ+ people are consistently shunned. The queer experience is very isolating. Being queer, understanding that about yourself, learning that about yourself, is a terrifying experience because you never know what people are going to think of you, you’re always preoccupied with “oh my parents aren’t going to love me anymore, my friends are going to leave me”. But the queer community online is vast and supportive. So being able to find your people on Twitch is of utmost importance to the queer community,
You’re the founder of Transmission Gaming – how does being part of the team help trans streamers?
Transmission Gaming was founded around the same time that I started streaming. Basically, it started as a group devoted to finding other trans people to play Overwatch with. If I was going on voice on Overwatch, some people may not necessarily like the fact that I am trans. And even if they weren’t being malicious, it still hurt a lot. So I thought you know what, this would be a lot more fun with other trans people where I didn’t constantly feel judged. So I started Transmission Gaming and it ballooned. It’s huge now, it has thousands of members. There’s a Twitch team component as well, the team raises money for charity and it’s currently the only roster of all trans streamers on Twitch. Transmission Gaming itself is a really fun group, there’s game nights, movie nights, there’s events. It’s a great way to make friends and every trans person is welcome there.
[Check out the Discord here]
What’s your main goal as a streamer for the future?
My main goal as a streamer is to provide the kind of community that I would’ve needed when I was coming out. I didn’t have any role models when I was coming out. I came out to Laura Jane Grace and Janet Mock and Laverne Cox and that was it. And they were wonderful! But there’s no way to connect with them, so what I want is to be someone that other trans people who are questioning, or coming out, or have been around for a long time as trans, can look to and see that it’s going to be ok.
What advice would you give to gaymers wanting to start streaming?
Don’t give up. Don’t let anybody try to tell you to give up. Don’t believe anyone when they tell you that you need to give up. Just keep going. Keep doing it. Be positive about it. And be somebody who you would’ve needed when you were coming out or when you were vulnerable. And also if you’re trans come join Transmission Gaming!
What’s the game that defined your childhood?
So I think a lot of people have this very shared queer experience of games that awaken something in you or let you be an avatar that you really wanted to be. For me it was The Sims. When The Sims came out I was able to create a character for myself and I could be a girl! Or Tenchu, you can play one of two ninjas: there’s a boy ninja and a girl ninja. And when there’s a choice between the two I would pick the girl because I wanted to be a girl but I could explain it away like “she has better finishing moves, she’s got a different moveset and it’s better” *whispers* I just want to be a girl! For me it was stuff like that, or where there’s no player character at all like real time strategy games. I got really into Starcraft, playing with my dad. My dad still plays games with me to this day. Every Wednesday we have a game night. It’s great. He has a Valve Index, he’s super into VR now!
What’s your game of the year so far?
Microsoft Flight Simulator! I gotta say. It might strike you as a strange choice, why would you pick Microsoft Flight Sim? It’s because of the sense of pride I get from landing in a huge jumbo jet with zero fuel, with one wheel, and a crew and passengers all expecting to go to Abu Dhabi but they’re ending up in Dubai because I made a mistake in the navigation. It’s a beautiful, broken game and I love it so much!
To find out more about Nikatine, catch her streaming on her Twitch channel.
Don’t forget you can vote for your Streamer Of The Year at the Gayming Mag Awards right here!