Campaign India hosted the inaugural edition of its Women Leading Change on 8 March.
As part of the virtual event, gamer and YouTuber, Shagufta Iqbal aka Xyaa was invited as one of the speakers. Emphasising the broad topic of ‘breaking stereotypes’, she spoke to the audience about what it is like to be a woman gamer in a man’s world, the stereotypes she faced in the gaming industry and how she dealt with them. The event was hosted by Khyati Kava.
How did you get into the world of gaming?
My dad, who was a software engineer, had introduced me to the world of gaming. We had a small computer at home with tons of kiddy games to play. As I grew older, I started to play a lot of strategy-based games. Counter-Strike 1.6 was the first game that pushed me into the world of serious gaming. I started to play a lot more post that and never stopped.
How did you get into the world of streaming?
As I started playing more, I found out about streaming and realised that people could stream themselves playing games, while having viewers come in and chat with them about the game. I was a very introverted girl without many friends and thought about how amazing it would be to sit at home, play games and make friends. I started streaming to come outside my introverted shell. It started as a hobby for about two years, and by the end of it, I realised that it gave me a lot of happiness which I didn’t receive from my 9-5 job. Since I was also able to make ends meet with just streaming, I decided to quit my job and take up streaming full-time. It’s been almost four years now and I’ve never regretted it.
What was the most stereotypical response you got with this new career choice?
When I started, there were only a handful of women streamers in the scene and people would look at us questionably. They were very surprised that a girl could game as well. I faced a lot of discrimination. Whenever I would do a good play, nobody would compliment me or give me the praise I deserved, but every time I failed, I had people bashing me on chat by calling me a noob and asking me to learn how to play. But, if a male gamer failed, they would sympathise with him. Small things like these would bring my spirit down, but I ignored them. dealt with it and went on. I wasn’t going to quit because of a few negative comments.
Are we seeing more women gamers now?
As the gaming scene in India grew, there were a lot of women who got into gaming. I got a lot of messages in my chat from people, saying that their sisters were inspired by me and wanted to start gaming as well. As the female population in gaming started growing, people started accepting that girls can game as well and that they should not discriminate and think of us as any less.