In May, Jair Renan, son of President Jair Bolsonaro, was banned from the platform after spreading false information about Covid-19 and encouraging players to break social isolation. His father also struggles to communicate with players, once a solid base among his constituents.
“Anyone who looks at homosexuals knows immediately which side we side with,” Lola says, speaking of politics. She stresses that her audience must be critical and well informed and debate the subject with great charisma. It’s hard to imagine she’s new to streaming – having started her channels when the pandemic hit Brazil – as she comes across as a seasoned pro.
The godmother of Brazilian gaymers
Samira Close is one of those seasoned pros. She is the drag persona of Wenesson Pereira da Silva, a 27-year-old man from northeastern Brazil who worked as a dressmaker and telemarketer before becoming a streamer.
The son of an evangelical single mother, Wenesson never envisioned streaming as a career while growing up. He did not have the financial means to invest in gaming equipment which, at the time, was only a hobby. In the beginning, he participated in the streams of friends. Over time, subscribers started to comment on how funny and spontaneous he was and asked if he would consider starting his own channels. “Why not?” he thought as he searched for solutions to pay the electricity and internet bills.
Samira Close was born in 2014, and the longest logout period since then is 10 days. Samira now broadcasts from her shiny workstation to nearly 900,000 subscribers eager to interact with the godmother-a nickname invented by his fans.
Samira’s live broadcasts last five to 10 hours a day and, at their peak, had more than 15,000 simultaneous viewers. She plays a variety of games: from Free fire at resident Evil, depending on his mood.
Samira generally has a very optimistic aura. She speaks enthusiastically, as if she is always about to joke. Her mouth has a permanent, almost sarcastic smile, and she uses his beard as a statement. “When I decided not to shave, I wanted people to understand that I wasn’t there to be a woman, that wasn’t the point. It was just the way I wanted to appear and it matched my message of “you can be anyone and do anything, you don’t have to meet any expectations, even the toughest”, says -she.
Thinking about it, Samira says she couldn’t relate to the game streamers she saw before starting her channels, not only in terms of appearance but also in their gestures, their humor, in the subjects that ‘they chose to discuss. The only thing they had in common was their love for games.
But sometimes, shared interest is not enough for a community to come together. “When I started, other players didn’t take me seriously. They cursed me, they made fun of me, I felt a lot of hatred, ”she recalls.
Segregation within the gaming community
Seventy-four percent of adults who play online games have experienced some kind of harassment or embarrassment, according to a July 2019 Anti-Defamation League report. Speaking specifically of LGBTQ + gamers, 35% said have been harassed because of their identity. “We are experiencing something that I like to call post-Gamergate,” explains Goulart, the doctor of social psychology.
Gamergate (GG) was a year-long online harassment campaign that began in 2014, with members coordinating a series of misogynistic and violent attacks on players and developers. According to Goulart, members of GG have declared what can be considered a culture war over, primarily, two things: the diversification of player identity and growing social criticism, such as discussions of race, gender and diversity in video games.