Gaming while Black is difficult, but it’s especially challenging for Black women. In addition to the commonplace racism, they face levels of sexism that are often delivered in the forms of threats.
To understand the barriers that must be broken down, we chatted with Khalia Chronicles, a streamer with lofty ambitions to uplift the gaming experience for people of color. In our exclusive interview, Khalia Chronicles shares how her past shaped her mission and how she’s making an impact in the streaming world!
Editorial Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Two Average Gamers: How’d you get into streaming? What’s your origin story?
Khalia Chronicles: You can thank Hi-Rez Paladins for that. Got a Switch and learned it was free. My boyfriend recommended getting it and I immediately fell in love with Grover. I played Paladins for 6 months straight during the pandemic. I was initially into the Switch for Animal Crossing. My boyfriend had been getting into Twitch on his own, so that’s how I discovered it.
TAG: Have you played on any other consoles or PC?
KC: I’m currently a PC gamer. A little bit of backstory – before the pandemic I hadn’t owned a gaming system for about 10 years. During my high school and college years I felt a lot of social pressure, so I stepped away from gaming. What motivated me to get back into gaming was Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing completely changed the world during the pandemic. On top of my personal discovery of video games, I found liberation in playing video games in front of others. It encourages me to catch up on video games. There’s someone out there watching me for me.
TAG: That’s awesome! Aside from video games, have you streamed any other content?
KC: The reason why I’m focusing on non-video games is because of my hiatus from video games. I try to chat with my community because engagement is so important. We started watching Nickelodeon before we jump into the games and rage in Apex Legends. It’s a nice nostalgic environment for anyone joining the community. The first thing I ask is what’s your favorite Disney song?
Dealing With Negativity
TAG: We’ve covered the positive side of gaming; let’s talk about the negative. Have you faced any racism while streaming? While gaming online (not on stream)?
KC: I have faced racism while streaming. I’ve been called every name in the book while gaming online and in the chat. I don’t get harassed on a daily basis. Luckily, I have good moderators who help to keep the good vibes. In the beginning if I was bad at a game, I would be slandered. I hold myself to a high standard and want to perform well in the game. It’s punks who feel high and mighty where they spew harassment and racism.
TAG: How do you engage with the online hate?
KC: Oh, just peace and release! Because I am a sensitive person, I just cut out the hate immediately. I know the things they say aren’t true. They are just trying to bring me down. I have the double negative – I’m a Black woman – so I flip it into a positive while spreading the magic.
TAG: We know guys can be pretty terrible on the internet. What kind of things have you had to put up with on and off-stream?
KC: The reason I don’t play Warzone is because people feel that they can talk to you however they feel like. I was threatened with sexual assault. When I called him out, the guy tried to flip the script. He found out I was streaming and he was being recorded. Also, I’m a wrestling fan and I’ve been called all kinds of “slut” and “whore” variants because I like to wear cute outfits to my shows. Lastly, ever since I was 3-years-old, I was reminded that I will receive this type of criticism as a Black girl. If you’re new and a small streamer, you don’t have the protection of your community to back you up against the hate. There are multiple instances where larger creators have bullied other larger creators to get attention. It gets especially frustrating when the streaming platforms don’t take appropriate action.
TAG: I can understand that. Have you found any communities which support you on your stream journey?
KC: I have to give my one up to the Xcellent Era team. They are a content creation community that showcases content creators and entertainers. I knew I wanted to connect with Black people on Twitch. I met some people on the recommended channels while playing Dead by Daylight. After introducing myself and expressing my desire to connect with Black creators on the platform, I was immediately pulled into the family. They all followed me and now I have lifelong friends. They support any and all things I do in streaming. I couldn’t be more grateful for them being in my life. I wouldn’t have the motivation to keep doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for Flash and the team.
TAG: That’s great that you have a supportive community. What has Twitch done to help combat hate and racism online?
KC: They will do a few-day ban, but for high ranking Twitch partners they are given a lot of leeway. Twitch definitely makes a valiant effort in combating racism and hate, but they still have a long way to go. They are finally seeing the value in protecting marginalized creators. I can see Twitch raising attention to the racial tensions on their platform. They have multiple blog posts highlighting different minorities and smaller streams. We need the accountability to kick a streamer off the platform even if that person makes Twitch a lot of money. There is a core of people who have built the industry culture which is shrouded in racism and sexual harassment. We see the small things happening. We need the bigger changes to be implemented.
TAG: I’m curious about your thoughts on what brought about these changes. Were platforms like Twitch pressured into self-correcting or is there a shift in the industry culture?
KC: I believe once George Floyd was murdered, it divided the country even more. In addition to the election, the platform was split in half. People used to feel like they were untouchable for several years. It peaked during these times and streamers were literally crying out for help on their streams and Twitch has responded. During the last four years, it was widely accepted that the hate would be persistent online. If Twitch didn’t take matters into their own hands, they would have lost a lot of money.
TAG: Assume that tomorrow you are the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Twitch. What would be your agenda on day No. 1?
KC: If I were in charge, I would gather all the evidence of creatives who are enabling others to continue the hate. These people need to be removed, even if people hate me for it. It’s not enough to have a Diversity and Inclusion department. 2021 is the year of content creation. We need a place for people to feel safe and continue to grow to the next level. There should be a clear standard of what isn’t tolerated on the platform. They would hate me, but it’s necessary.
Advice For Aspiring Content Creators And Streamers
TAG: I saw on your blog that you want to become a gaming talent agent. With 10 years of gaming to catch up on, where does this aspiration fall in your timeline?
KC: I honestly already started networking for this. During the pandemic, I got laid off. I went back to school because I wanted marginalized creators to be heard. As soon as I jumped into the Twitch world, it was clear there was a divide. Twitch is starting to hear more people’s voices (International women’s month, Black history month) and moving in the right direction with inclusion. We need the brands and businesses to start seeing how these creators can influence so many people. They have amazing influence over the community and deserve to have their voices heard just as the other voices. People don’t yet know how to work with people of color. It needs to be normalized so that we can reach the end goal of improved diversity.
TAG: You’ve definitely got a lot to look forward to! If you were going back six months ago, what tips would you give to aspiring Black gamers looking to get into streaming?
KC: I would have taken the time to recognize the value in audio and video quality. I’ve had people tell me that my mic sounds like shit. That motivated me to put the time toward my stream production. You don’t have to buy all the lights and hooplah. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to jump into this fully and it came from a place of passion. Really figure out what you’re streaming for. Once you’ve decided, this will guide how you setup your stream. If you just want to chill with your friends and not have a camera, you probably won’t have a successful streaming career. People and brands want to see your face. Understand the value of networking.
TAG: I want to go a little deeper on networking. What tools have you used and what methods have worked well for you?
KC: My connections have all come from Twitter – I understand the power of that platform. I was originally a pro wrestling influencer and my main audience comes from Twitter. Because of my influence there, I was able to bring people into my gaming world. Make sure to use everybody! Even just popping into someone’s stream and trying to build a genuine connection or hype them up during their gameplay. Do not come into someone’s stream and tell them you are streaming unless they ask you to. It’s really funny because one person from Xcellent Era is best friends with someone I know in wrestling Twitter!
TAG: Any tips for people who are introverts?
KC: I’m an introvert! I would call myself an extroverted introvert. It’s gotten easier for me because I practice talking in front of a camera. I’ve been called evil because I don’t talk to people if we meet in the real world. Practice just talking about yourself. Focus on you. What are you doing and what’s going on in your head? Open up OBS and just practice talking to yourself. I react to everything when I play video games. If you know how to talk about yourself, people will feel more comfortable talking about themselves in the chat. I lived it and experienced it. This is advice I’ve heard from many of the top partners on Twitch.
Where to find Khalia?
TAG: Thanks for all the tips! Now that people know a little about you how can folks reach you?
Two Average Gamers is a Black-owned small business founded in Spring 2018. It’s run by a pair of life-long friends, Fred & Julian, who grew up in the 90s and love all things gaming. They publish weekly articles covering gaming news, stream a variety of video games, and sell gaming merchandise.