WomANZ Spotlight: ACT Geo-Organiser Birnabear

12 April 2019

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One half that makes up Team Australian Capital Territory is the one and only, Birnabear.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, what motivates you and what is your favourite food/beverage?
Birnabear: I’m Birnabear. A variety streamer from Canberra, with a focus on strategy games and team-based shooters. I love all things tech, with an interest in gaming peripherals, drones and all things RGB.
I grew up with consoles, but these days I almost only play on PC. Outside of gaming I play soccer for a local club, and my new focus for 2019 is to get into Obstacle Course Racing. (I completed my first one last month). For my day job I am an Environmental Manager, the furthest you could get from streaming and playing video games.
How are you involved in gaming/esports/content creation?
I stream 4-5 nights per week on Twitch. I am also one of the managers for the Australian Universal Soldiers esports team.
How did you get into gaming/esports/content creation? How did it all start for you?
Growing up, video games were a big part of my childhood. I found I loved any kind of strategy games. I loved being able to take the time to think of new ideas for how to solve problems as well as achieving goals that way.
From there I found my way across to team-based shooters and esports for games like Battlefield and Call of Duty. Since I loved being able to blend the strategic approach with teamwork to win games. I spent a lot of time playing in both those titles, and then more recently Rainbow Six Siege with Australian Universal Soldiers.
I got into content creation and twitch streaming at a point where I wasn’t feeling the same drive to focus as a competitive player on any one title anymore. So streaming was a chance to try something completely new and different. I discovered I loved the community feel of streaming, and that it brought much the same joy that working together as an esports team did. I don’t like to feel alone playing games, and with streaming, I never do.
What advice would you have for people looking to get into a place like yours? Do you have any words of encouragement?
Give it a go. You will learn whether it’s for you or not, but you will never know if you don’t give it a go. I put it off for years, coming up with all kinds of justifications why I shouldn’t. I’m a very shy person and can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, so I told myself I wouldn’t able to do a good job so not to try. I am so glad I got past those roadblocks, because I found love it.
What do you think the landscape is like now for women in esports/gaming/content creation?
It’s improving. There are a lot of pockets across the industry that make things difficult, with a lack of respect and harassment being big barriers for entry and progression. And there are some out there that would rather that women aren’t involved at all. But, the industry and community is maturing, so it’s a great time to be a part of it.
Do you think there are any barriers to entry for women within the esports/gaming/content creation industry now?
The big barrier of entry now is the fear of harassment keeping many women from getting involved. I have spoken to heaps of women, who have thought about streaming, or putting themselves out there in some capacity. They worry about the repercussions they might face for being public. I have so many friends who won’t use microphones in multiplayer games for that same reason. So, the big barrier is the culture that keeps women from wanting to take part in the first place.
Who is a woman within this industry who inspires you?
I have two for different reasons; Alanah Pearce and Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn. I have always been a big fan of Alanah’s work, and it was cool to see her go from a small content creator in Australia, to having a successful games journalist career in the US. Scarlett is one of the biggest names in esports, particularly as one of the first big female esports players. She is down to earth and genuine and took the pressure of the spotlight and success from a young age well. She is a good role model in esports.
What do you like about the WomANZ community and what does it mean to you?
The sense of community is amazing. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. When I first joined, I had been there a week and already felt like I had been a member for ages with how friendly everyone was. It’s great to have such a positive community where everyone can relate with similar lived experiences, which is a rare thing for women in gaming.
What are you excited about being a geo-organiser for WomANZ?
I’m super excited to be able to help get more activities going in the ACT. Canberra is often the forgotten city in Australia, with a very transient population. A large part of the population (me included) tend to move here from elsewhere in Australia or internationally. I think that’s an important reason to make sure there is a sense of local community.
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