20 streamers will receive upgrades to their setups. StreamElements CEO Doron Nir discusses the initiative's purpose, and how the company is hoping to encourage diversity in the livestreaming sector.
Last month, streaming tools provider StreamElements launched its Creator Diversity Fund, a $100,000 initiative aimed at helping creators from underrepresented demographics up their livestreaming game. Today, StreamElements has announced the fund’s 20 recipients, each of whom will receive significant upgrades to their streaming channel in the form of animated overlays and graphics, streaming mentorship, and access to one of StreamElements’ premium Discord channels. Additionally, peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries will be providing each recipient with an Arctis 1 wireless gaming headset.
“We are providing two types of services,” Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements, told GameDaily of the fund. “The first is design-oriented, which includes a customized graphics package that will give their channels a look and functionality similar to that of the top creators. The second, which in many ways is more important, is we will be providing mentoring to help these individuals grow in terms of improving their abilities to land sponsorships, move more merch, and other aspects that we've seen make a difference with leading influencers.”
Like in every other aspect of society, minority groups--that is, PoC, women, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals--have historically been underrepresented in the streaming community. They are also more often the victims of targeted harassment. Additionally, instances of white streamers using racist and homophobic language have become far too common. This, Nir said, is the inspiration for the Creator Diversity Fund.
“The livestreaming scene is just a microcosm of the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in general, such as dealing with harassment and prejudice, but having a lack of resources to improve one's situation. We wanted to be a force for change.”
Enacting change on a ubiquitous platform like Twitch is certainly a daunting prospect, but it’s work that needs to be done. In reality, the streaming landscape is actually very diverse, with creators of color, queer streamers, and disabled streamers boasting a large foothold in the sector. However, this diversity is not reflected in the most popular channels, a segment that remains almost unanimously white.
“While the streaming scene is currently very diverse, you won't find much of that diversity reflected in the top channels,” Nir explained. “We would love to see a broader range of creators in the top 100, which is why understanding the art of engagement is as important as having a great looking channel.”
One of the recipients of the Creator Diversity Fund is ZombaeKillz, who is a vocal activist for prison reform and the Black Lives Matter movement. For her, StreamElements’ assistance will help disseminate the activism upon which her platform has been built.
“This program shows that StreamElements cares about its users, and is helping to level the playing field for creators of color,” ZombaeKillz told GameDaily. “This will help give my channel a chance to stand out in a crowd when applying for opportunities.”
She said that while Twitch is an incredibly diverse platform, there is still a long way to go when it comes to ensuring equal opportunity for Black creators. For instance, there is an LGBTQ+ tag, but there isn’t one for POC or disabled creators. ZombaeKillz also said that Twitch needs to do more to promote its diversity on the front page and in the featured streams.
Another recipient of StreamElements’ fund is SpringSims, who is known for streaming The Sims on Twitch. He echoed ZombaeKillz enthusiasm for the Creator Diversity Fund, and praised StreamElements’ contributions to increasing diversity in the streaming landscape. Also like ZombaeKillz, SpringSims said that it’s an uphill battle for underrepresented creators.
“I feel there needs to be better highlighting of unrepresented groups,” SpringSims told GameDaily. “I believe that Twitch can help foster the idea by highlighting marginalized voices through shows like Public Access and Twitch Weekly, promoting us more on the front page, or even providing more resources to help expand our audiences such as by providing brand-related speaking engagements.”
Still, while there is a long way to go, SpringSims is appreciative of StreamElements’ efforts.
“My channel will greatly benefit from the Creator Fund because it will provide an updated look to my stream,” he said. “ This is especially good for people hopping into my community for the first time. When someone goes into my stream, I would love for them to think ‘Hey this guy has an amazing community, and I'm having a great viewing experience.’ It will also bring new opportunities to my community as there might have been something I've missed in my overlays or overall stream that the Creator Fund helps me with.”
In the end, the primary purpose of the Creator Diversity Fund is to foster a more inclusive and welcoming streaming landscape for all marginalized groups.
“We would love to encourage readers to understand that championing diversity is a goal for everyone,” Nir emphasized. “It's not just about how StreamElements as a company supports diversity. Every single person can make this happen. Find an interesting creator that comes from an underrepresented background and support them through tips or subscriptions, buy their merch, follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
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