Thursday, April 18, 2024
FeaturesStreamer Spotlight

Streamer Spotlight: Pikachulita

As LGBTQ+ people, it’s important that we support one another and create safe, welcoming spaces together. And in these times, that’s most likely to be online. That’s exactly what Pikachulita is doing with her streaming community.

In response to the typical gamer bro environment, Pikachulita uses her platform as a safe space for people from all marginalised communities, with plenty of Just Chatting streams to discuss vital issues.

The rest of the time? She could be playing anything, be it indie games, horror games, or online multiplayer games. Read on as we discuss the importance of conversation, improvements to Twitch, and some Halloween recommendations. 

When and why did you first start streaming?

I started streaming in August 2014. I found out people play their games and stream them online and was like ‘wow that seems fun’. I like to think I’m pretty cool, pretty funny, so why not broadcast my gameplay to my friends and see who wants to watch? And I would’ve never expected it to go the path that it went. I started off doing it for fun, and it’s pretty much grown from there. The first game I streamed was Infamous: Second Son and then not too soon after I started streaming the Silent Hills playable teaser. That was a hell of an experience, having someone watch me play a horror game. And this was back before I had a camera, but people were still entertained as the game was pretty terrifying!

What games do you prefer to stream?

I’m all over the place. It’s pretty much anything that is not Call Of Duty, the standard military shooter, or sports games. You may see me playing Apex (I do love me a good first person shooter these days), horror games, I’m real big on farming simulation type things, platformers, action adventure games. Of course I’ll play Fall Guys. I love co-op multiplayer games where you can just have fun with your friends, I love laughing!

I recently broke into the realm of indie games, I recently played a game called Later Daters that was a visual novel dating sim that took place in a retirement community, which was such a fun game. It’s wonderful. It’s so inclusive, it’s the most precious thing.

Any horror game recommendations for Halloween?

Phasmophobia is a really popular game right now. It’s a ghost hunting game, I would recommend it for anybody. You use proximity chat as well as walkie talkies to communicate and the ghosts can hear you – they have names and you can talk to them. A lot of the time it angers them and they’ll respond to you. It’s absolutely hilarious to see how people react and how scared they get. It’s still scary but you’re spending a lot of time laughing at other people and on the walkie talkie I’ll be doing trucker talk like “baby dingo 10-4 over”! You can make it so fun, but it’s still scary. That’s the kind of horror I like. I like being scared, but at the same time it’s even better when you can laugh about it. 

What makes your stream unique?

My crowning achievement in streaming has been the community that I’ve built, because I’ve put in a lot of care into crafting it to be a reflection of me. So my community is full of different people from marginalised communities. We’ve got a huge queer presence, huge trans presence, so many different types of people of colour. It’s a safe space for those people. I’ve done a real good job at taking precautions and safety measures to do that, who I allow in, what I tolerate and what I don’t tolerate – I have a no tolerance policy. We talk about everything that you can think of – that’s another unique quality of my stream. We can go from talking about games and movies and anime or TV shows that we’re watching, or we can talk about how we’re doing mentally and emotionally, how we practice self-care. I had a trans talk session where we had a black trans man and a black trans woman come on and talk about their experiences as black trans individuals. I’ve talked about hair care. I’ve talked about make-up. I talk about sex education and sex positivity. We’re all over the place, there are so many different types of conversations that we have.

Why is it important to have those conversations, for you and your community?

The gaming community is historically a white cis straight male audience. And it’s created this environment that has been very unwelcoming and unforgiving for people of colour, queer folk, trans folk. I don’t want them to accept me. I’m creating my own space, because it’s been shown to me time and time again that they don’t have space for me. There’s this idea that people like me are unicorns and that’s not even the case. We’ve always been there but we’re just now finding platforms and communities so we can come out of the shadows, so we can feel comfortable fraternising with other people like us. 

So I think it’s important to not only create these sorts of spaces but to openly talk about this stuff, because there are too many people on platforms like Twitch that are not talking about it. Just knowing that I can provide an escape feels good to me, because it’s an escape for me but I can provide that for other people. It’s a wonderful feeling, it feels good, I feel loved, appreciated and welcomed. I know it’s something crucial because I wish that I would’ve had this a long time ago. It boils down to the fact that there’s so much that needs to change about gaming culture and the gaming community and the streaming community, whether it’s streamers or viewers, and it’s not going to change unless we sit here and talk about it without fearing the sort of backlash or harassment that may come with it.

How do you find being an out LGBT streamer? 

I’m bi/pansexual and I’m cisgender. Obviously there’s things like bi-erasure within the queer community, but I do not experience the same level of oppression and disdain and rejection from society that other people in the queer community do. I have it a lot easier than trans people, I have it a lot easier than a gay male because I am a feminine bi/pan woman. I don’t really experience [homophobia] on Twitch, I more so experience harassment off the fact that I’m a woman and I’m black. But I think it’s important to acknowledge my privilege as a bi/pan fem woman in the midst of all this, and that’s something I’ve been particular about. I have in a way this privilege because I do not face the same struggles that other queer folks experience on a day to day basis. 

How could Twitch be more supportive of different marginalised communities?

First of all, not just highlighting us during certain months. That’s a start. Taking the same initiatives to support and promote our content all the other days and months of the year. Giving us better moderation tools. There are still way too many usernames that slip through the cracks, very racist terrible usernames. They just recently made it to where someone you ban can’t see your stream: that took years to do that, why did it take that long? It’s common sense they should not be able to see my stream. 

We can sit here and say on the Twitch streamer end what we want, but that should start from within if you actively want it to spread outward. Hiring more people of colour, more queer folk, more people from marginalised communities. That way when Hispanic heritage month rolls around you’re not getting emotes with maracas and a sombrero! I think also they would be more in touch with moderation tools. You would have people working at Twitch who will have likely been on the receiving end of this stuff and will know all too well that moderation’s important. There’s so much, but the biggest thing is having it start internally, bringing in more people from marginalised communities to be active in the decision making process, and holding Twitch partners and affiliates more accountable for the things they do and say.

What’s the best thing about being a streamer?

My community, absolutely. They are wonderful. We’re so close-knit and I pretty much would do anything for them, they would do anything for me. They support me through thick and thin. They’re wonderful human beings. I feel like I provide things for them in terms of having a safe space and being there for them, but they also offer that to me as well. It’s absolutely a mutual thing for the both of us. I’ve met some absolutely wonderful people that I know I’m going to be friends with for the years to come.

What have you learned about yourself through streaming?

That my aim needs to get a little better…! No I’m not serious about that! I’ve absolutely grown in confidence. I’ve always been an extrovert, a very social person, but a couple of years ago I was definitely a bit more shy and a little bit more reserved. So I think streaming helped that real me pop out and bloom and blossom. Something that was always there but just needed some help uncovering. It’s absolutely helped me feel more comfortable talking in front of large groups of people. Granted it’s different when it’s a large group virtually and you’re not looking at their faces! It helped me find my voice that I already had prior, but I think that I just needed a little nudging combined with the confidence to be even more unapologetic and outspoken than I already was.

What’s the game that got you into gaming?

The original Pokémon handheld games are probably the biggest influencing factor that kickstarted it. Also some honorary mentions to some Mario games: Super Mario 64, Dr Mario on Game Boy. It was literally Nintendo that did it for me.

What did you love about Pokémon?

I love animals. I almost went to school to be a vet. And I loved the TV show, I’m not sure what came first for me: the TV show or the game. I just know I loved the show and that either fuelled my love for the game or sparked it. Here’s this game with these cool looking animals that are cute, I’m gonna play this. It didn’t take much, and then I saw Pikachu and I was like ‘I’m sold!’

What’s your favourite game from this year?

It’s been such a long year, what have I even played this year?! I would have to say Later Daters, I had so much fun with that. And Fall Guys. Honorary mention to Spiritfarer. Also there was a game I played called Beyond Blue, it was an ocean exploration game and it was beautiful. Indie titles have pretty much taken over my life! 

To find out more about Pikachulita, 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!

Ed Nightingale

[He/Him] Ed is a London-based blogger and freelance writer, covering music, film, theatre, games and lifestyle. A lover of culture, he can usually be found in front of the silver screen or a laptop - if you can play it, watch it, or sing it then he’s probably got an opinion about it.