A recent comment from Tyler “Ninja” Blevins about who he chooses to stream with on Twitch is generating controversy among the gaming community. We covered Ninja earlier this year.
Ninja is one of the most popular streamers on Twitch. He’s got over 10 million followers who mostly watch him play Fortnite, the massively popular online battle royale game. But at a recent Samsung event, he told Polygon that he doesn’t play with female gamers because “If I have one conversation with one female streamer where we’re playing with one another, and even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever.”
In fact, the only woman Ninja does appear with in videos frequently is his wife, Jess.
The couple recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary.
Ninja made sure to note that avoiding other female gamers isn’t something that Jess asked him to do. He told Polygon: “That was not even her. She had nothing to do with it. That was me being, ‘I love our relationship,’ and, ‘No — I’m not even gonna put you through that.’”
Since being a Twitch streamer involves crafting a very public persona and being available to one’s audience often for hours at a time, it’s inevitable that gossip will spread about personalities that stream together. Ninja probably understands this better than anyone.
While playing with gamer Myth earlier this year, he asked if Myth was romantically involved with another gamer he’d been playing with named Pokemane, and that one short conversation resulted in a whole bunch of videos and posts speculating on their hypothetical relationship.
Ninja told Polygon that it was no big deal. He said: “There hasn’t been a single female gamer or streamer on Twitch or anything like that who’s been upset about it. I honestly think that it’s just kinda like a respect thing.”
But since that interview came out, people have been upset about it.
Elizabeth L. Garcia writes: “This type of behavior is sexist. Women can’t get into this industry because men like him don’t even want to entertain the notion of letting them in. This sucks for smaller streamers who are female and it sucks for women in the gaming industry. If you are a Ninja fan, reconsider.”
Emma Evans writes: “The idea that one must punish women by exclusion because of ‘fear of false accusations’ does nothing but double down on the sexism that has contributed to the #metoo issues for both women and men. These people are bad and you shouldn’t reward them.”
And Nicola Vaughn tweeted: “I’ve lost a lot of respect for Ninja due to this. You can’t discriminate against 50% of the population based on gender due to rumours. Furthermore, as a streamer, rumours is an unfortunate burden you bare. Need I mention he has just lost 50% of his following due to sexist ignorance.”
But others, including some female gamers, are defending Ninja, specifically because of how they are often treated online.
Model and DJ Laura Lux wrote: “y’all if @Ninja actually did stream with a girl it would be a disaster. this community is a toxic sexist shitshow and she would be labeled his side bitch, relentlessly harassed for being a homewrecking slut and spammed with “begone thot” trolls etc etc etc fuck that”
The sexism faced by female gamers has been well-documented, and it appears to be amplified on Twitch. A 2016 study of Twitch comments found that women were extensively objectified during their streams, whereas the comments on male gamers’ videos focused more on the content of the game. According to the study, the most popular words appearing in comments on female gamers’ streams were “boobs, hot, omg, smile and babe.”
What do you guys think? Is Ninja being smart by not streaming with female gamers, or is he being sexist himself? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.