In 2020, people flocked to gaming in astounding numbers. With more free time on their hands, many found themselves dusting off old games or purchasing new ones, leading to popular consoles like the Nintendo Switch selling out often.
According to a survey done by Facebook Gaming, women especially benefitted from the video game boom, as more women started playing and streaming games. In 2020, women made up 47 percent of all gamers, and 65 percent of women globally used video games as a form of entertainment.
More women joined Facebook gaming groups in the past year, as well, with the platform seeing a 195 percent increase in female members.
But what does this mean for the gaming community? It's no secret that being a woman in a predominantly male field presents a unique set of challenges (and oftentimes, harassment) that their male counterparts won't face — especially for women streamers.
Jonna Mae, who is best known by her username MissesMae, streams on Facebook Gaming regularly. She spoke with Distractify about connecting with the women in her fanbase and dealing with the harassment online.
Jonna was a nurse before she started streaming full-time.
Jonna said she started streaming while she was working as a nurse at a nursing home before taking her platform full-time in 2014.
"I used to play video games during nursing school and while I worked as a nurse to decompress and get rid of some of the stress I had, and because of that, I fell in love with gaming again," she said.
Now she says she streams for about 40 hours a week for her Facebook Gaming audience of more than 600,000, devoting six days a week to her platform.
Currently, more than half of Jonna's audience is men, but she said that she loves connecting with the mothers who find her platform the most.
"My favorite is when I see moms in the chat, and they're like 'Oh my son plays Fortnite,' and then they connect to me a little bit easier," she said. "I think because I'm more relatable to them, I'm seeing a lot more women in my chat ... And then they have a closer connection with their kids."
Jonna streamed on other platforms before moving to Facebook Gaming but found she liked how the platform integrated groups, making it easier to boost when she was live and connect with her audience when she wasn't.
"When Facebook Gaming first started, a lot of the people who watched me didn't even know what streaming was. Like didn't even know Twitch, they might watch YouTube, but they didn't know there was live YouTube content out there," she said. "And it excited them again, kind of reignited the gaming fire under them, and it felt really good to be able to spark that."
The pizza emoji is Jonna's secret to dealing with harassment online.
As a female streamer, Jonna admitted she's had her fair share of harassment online. She's dealt with it in a few ways, from calling them out directly while she's streaming to making jokes out of some of the comments on her TikTok. But for the most part, anyone attempting to bring negativity to her streams will be spammed with the pizza emoji.
"What I've told my chat and my community is, whenever you see something in the chat that's disrespectful, a troll, hateful, whatever, spam the pizza emoji," she said. "Because then we start talking about food, we'll start pushing out that person and you won't even see it in the chat — maybe I won't see it in the chat ... Like to me, it's the idea of you let in and you let things affect you — you get to choose what that is. You don't even give them the space, don't give them the time of day, just flush them out."