At AFK, representation is at our very core; it's an aspect of our everyday efforts as we work hard acting in our talents' best interests, ensuring racial equity and fair portrayals of all people in a fast-growing, still developing and sometimes forgetful industry.With February and Black History Month (US) coming to an end, we want to take a moment to celebrate the contributions of black people to society and our industry. Black individuals have often been at the forefront of technological and cultural advancements, and the gaming industry is no different. However, their contributions are often overlooked. So we decided to take some time to sit back and listen to some of the amazing individuals we work with daily.
Learn more about two of our creators - MrsChimChim and Draynilla - as individuals, but also about their feelings on representation in today's content creator environment; from gaming influences, to challenges, to role models.
Please introduce yourselves!
Yo, wassup! My name is Dray, aka Draynilla. I'm a Twitch streamer and content creator who primarily focuses on Apex Legends, Just Chatting and single-player games.
Hi! My name is Reagan, but online I go by MrsChimChim. I am a League of Legends Twitch streamer who focuses on creating a safe space for everyone. I also make it a priority to be fearless and fabulous in my (many) mistakes.
Was there a game that had a particular impact on you growing up?
Mainly Kingdom Hearts; that's my all time favourite game series. It taught me so much. I loved every single character, the story, the combat, the world, the music - everything. Nothing hit like Kingdom Hearts for me. Shadow of the Colossus was another tear jerker.
Maplestory, KartRider and League of Legends. I've learned so many new things from the latter; maybe not from playing the game, but from meeting people in this industry and other League of Legends content creators. MapleStory and KartRIder shaped my younger years in many ways, but I think that's a longer story for another day.
As a black person, what were some of the biggest challenges you've faced?
Some of the biggest challenges I've faced as a black man was feeling like I didn't belong. I'm mixed race; my dad is “Akon black” and my mom is “Kelly Clarkson white”. I came out caramel, otherwise known as a lightskin.
Growing up, I didn't fit into any certain group. I played video games, watched anime, enjoyed drawing, and didn’t enjoy what most typical black young kids enjoyed. So I was too black for the white kids and too white for the black kids.
This made me very insecure growing up - not knowing what I was supposed to like and it almost felt wrong to literally just be me. I overcame all that when I got older and started being more confident with myself, not caring about what people thought of me or how they viewed me. But when I was younger, it was definitely something that troubled me and held me back a lot.
As a black woman, I face sexism, racism and discrimination on many levels, but this is not something I tend to highlight. I want to focus on the fact that several other black creators and I are filling spaces and making room for others like us like never before.
It is so important for other little black girls and little black boys to see not only that they DO belong in these spaces, but also that they can BE in these spaces. They can be a content creator for their favourite game, they can do anything and they are not alone.
Growing up, who did you look up to?
I looked up to mainly 2 people growing up; my dad (who is my real-life superhero!) and a YouTuber named UberHaxorNova. My friends and I loved his content and videos so much, and I remember watching his videos and thinking to myself "I wanna be just like him when I grow up".
He made primarily goofy, crude and sus humour on Minecraft back in the early 2010s when gaming and YouTube was just becoming popular and taken somewhat seriously. I still love him so much to this day, and hopefully I’ll get to meet him one day.
In general, I've always looked up to my mom and dad. They are both very ambitious, intelligent and supportive. With my mom being a “Jack of All Trades”, and my dad being a business owner, I've learned how to be the go getter I am today.
In the gaming industry, Myth and Swoozie have been two of my favourite content creators. I remember watching Myth play Fortnite in my University classes on mute and being so excited when he announced he was signing to TSM. I remember being so happy that his hard work was paying off and that he was representing our community.
Did you ever see yourself represented in mainstream media or in the gaming industry?
When I was a small streamer I always envisioned myself becoming this big streamer who was influencing young black kids to be optimistic and to follow their dreams and goals. Growing up, I didn't have a streamer or content creator that I felt really resonated with me or looked exactly like me, or liked the things that I liked while also being black. I want to be that streamer for people. I want to remind them that if a goofy guy like me - growing up marginalised and feeling like I don't fit in - can make a career out of doing what I love, then they can too.
I've had a couple of articles written about me, my content and my community, as well as had a couple interviews/podcasts. It truly means a lot to me to be able to talk about different subjects like that.
What is the importance of this representation?
Oh, it means so much to me. I feel like just being African-American in America is already a debuff. People overlook us so much and feel like we're different just because of the way we look.
Being able to not only represent myself in a positive way but have other people - such as AFK - represent me in a positive way means the world to me, and I don't ever wanna stray away from that. That's something that will always be at the root of my content; making sure I feel represented, my team feel represented, my friends, family, and most importantly my community.