I’m a full-time Twitch streamer – that’s what I do

Lifelong gamer Karvey now has her dream job but says there are still major challenges for women in the industry.

All week long at The Spinoff, we explore our relationship with the working world in Aotearoa. For more Work Week stories, see Click here.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I’ll tell them I’m a full-time content creator and Twitch streamer from New Zealand. I stream live on Twitch every night and I keep my viewers entertained by playing games, chatting, streaming advice or just talking about current affairs and trends to make sure they’re entertained.

I’ve been playing since I was little, starting with a Nintendo 64. My mom raised me alone and likes to joke that I’ve had a controller in my hand since I was a year old. When I moved to Australia when I was about 17, I worked full-time as a bartender and didn’t have many friends. I would just come home, play games and go to bed. It was quite difficult to find gaming friends, but then a co-worker showed me this girl who was playing Fortnite live on Twitch and was talking to all these people around the world.

The next week I started streaming and playing Fortnite to a tiny audience. You don’t really need much to start streaming – just the internet, a console and something for people to hear or see you. My very first viewer was someone from America. After four years, he has now become one of my closest friends, which is really nice. Every day people from all over the world watch me, from Hungary to Bali to Cuba. More recently, I’ve branched off from Fortnite to play more battle royales, first-person shooters, and even horror games.

About two years ago, I gave up bartending to make Twitch my full-time job. This was during the Covid lockdowns when everyone at home was bored and relaxed. It really has been a good time for growth on Twitch and many streamers have been able to work full time. I’m all for it – if you can make a living from your favorite thing, then do it. I am not getting any salary or even hourly wages from Twitch. You get paid by ad revenue or by subscribers who can pay $10 per month. They can also be paid through tips and donations and custom emotes.

I get paid based on whether people liked me or whether they liked the content. The harder I work and the more I make people happy, the more I get paid. That’s why I won’t stream when I’m feeling less than 70% because I don’t like projecting negativity – I want my viewers to feel happy and positive when they come in.

On a normal workday I wake up around 2pm – still plenty of time for normal people, shop hours and stuff like that. I eat breakfast, try to move and get some sun. And then I come back in, have some lunch, check my email, and get lost in some editing for a few hours. After that I have dinner and then around 10pm I get ready to stream for five or six hours. These are the prime hours for my viewers – I have Kiwis late at night just hopping to bed, it’s dinner time in Australia and then America and the UK, they’re all just waking up.

After my stream ends, it’s about four or five in the morning. I might pull some funny clips out of my stream, name them, edit them and go to bed around 7 or 8am. My job is difficult to explain to people who don’t understand it, especially older generations. It’s like breaking the “rules” and “traditions” by making a living doing what I love without leaving home. One of the other biggest misconceptions as a woman in gaming is that your job is to just sit and look pretty and get paid, which makes it difficult for so many women to be taken seriously.

I don’t know of any woman online who hasn’t suffered from online trolling, bullying or harassment. I really like uplifting the girls in the gaming community and just showing people that half of those girls are better than these guys in tournaments anyway. But still, it always gets abusive and sexist with the whole make me a sandwich thing or just guys saying, “You don’t belong in the game.” You hear about the harassment coming into real life, so all you have to do is make sure you’re not sharing photos with an addressed letter or license plate in them.

I feel blessed to have complete creative freedom in my job and to be able to express myself however I want at work, but the biggest downside to this industry is how hard it still is for women. The community is definitely becoming more receptive to female streamers and it’s great to be a part of, but we need to keep calling out people for harassment. I’ve gotten a thicker skin over the years and I’m learning not to take these nasty comments to heart, but we need to help others who are being affected by feeling less alone or less offended. Leave us gamer girls alone.

– As Alex Casey was told


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