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Volume 21 No. 48
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Plugged In: Anna Prosser Robinson, Twitch

Anna Prosser Robinson is one of the most prominent women in esports, a world typically valued by marketers as a vehicle to reach young men. As an esports casting star and lead producer for Twitch Studios, Robinson helps develop original content internally and with Twitch partners. But she’s also embraced a mission to make the world of online gaming safer for women and to promote women in more visible roles, whether it be in casting, the business or participating in the competition itself. Four years ago, she helped found misscliks, a Twitch channel described as “a community working toward a future where all people can participate in geek and gamer culture without fear or prejudice or mistreatment.”

  If someone wants to sponsor a woman pro gamer, the questions are always, ‘Are you sponsoring her because she’s a woman? Is she good enough?’ Whereas our male colleagues don’t have to worry about that. And that’s purely because there aren’t that many women in those spaces, which is why we started misscliks — to get more women’s faces being shown doing these things, so it will become less mystifying.

On the marketing perspective that it’s mostly men: I wouldn’t say they’re wrong, but I would say there’s a huge missed opportunity, because the women’s gaming community at large is waiting for that brand who wants to step in and say, “Hey girl gamers, I see you, and I’m marketing to you.” We’re so used to seeing the ads for men’s deodorant, and men’s body spray, and the man’s man’s jerky treats. We’re so used to seeing that and being told this isn’t actually your space. … If there’s that one women’s brand who comes in and says, “Here’s a women’s razor,” or “Here’s a tampon brand,” and doesn’t make it a special thing, I think that brand is going to get a swell of loyalty that’s characteristic to the esports community.

On raising the profile of women in esports casting: I think it’s important to actively seek out women who are talented and put them on these broadcasts, to foster the growth of more women who will be at the level they need to be for those broadcasts. It’s very important not to point out, “Oh, hey, also we have a girl, isn’t that great?”

On the influx of money into esports: The cool thing about esports becoming more professional is that brands and outlets — people who are broadcasting major tournaments — are responsible to sponsors and to professional contracts, which make them want to be sure the community experience is positive and shows the best side of the community. So the fact that esports is getting more professional is definitely a huge help in that sense.

On gender-based harassment in gaming: For me personally, it has gotten better, but it’s hard to say whether harassment overall has gone down because I’m in a very privileged position now. … The advent of Gamergate showed us how deep a lot of that ill will and sexism still does run, and that’s why I’m really grateful for places like Twitch that give me the tools to protect myself.

                                                                                                                           — Ben Fischer