Indigenous Twitch streamers share experiences of communities, inclusion
MarmarGTV and SimplyAretha spoke at the Edmonton ESports Expo this past weekend
Marlon Weekusk, who goes by the name of MarmarGTV on the streaming platforms Twitch, Facebook Gaming and YouTube, says it was "really cool" to talk about Indigenous inclusion in gaming and esports at the Alberta ESports Expo in Edmonton last weekend.
"We were slotted a time to share our stories, share our time and our journey navigating the space," he said.
"We had a really good audience and it was really cool to be put on a stage and talk to people just to share our trials and tribulations."
Some of the topics covered during the panel were the education of streaming in general, monetizing on the platforms and how to gain success in live streaming.
The Cree man from Onion Lake, Sask., said he would love to see more Indigenous partnered creators, meaning people making more money from the platforms, and Indigenous brand opportunities.
Weekusk himself is sponsored by Ubisoft, a video game publisher of series like of Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed and Just Dance.
"There's no Indigenous presence [in ads] yet," he said.
"I'd love to see opportunities for us to have a chance to shine and showcase who we are as Indigenous creators."
Another panellist was Aretha Greatrix, who is from Kashechewan First Nation in Ontario but currently lives in Edmonton.She's known in her online community as SimplyAretha.
"It was interesting and exciting and I've never done something like that as a streamer," she said.
"I was just honoured to be able to talk about my experience as a Indigenous streamer."
She said there have always been Indigenous content creators but finding them was difficult, but that is changing.
"Twitch only recently [added] tags, like [it has] a Native American tag and it didn't have that before," she said.
"Now we're kind of building the networks of our own and then now using the tags and we're basically saying 'here's the community that's actually been here this whole time.'"
Greatrix said a few members in the Indigenous streamer community got together to urge Twitch to have a celebration of Native American history month in November. They went ahead and hosted their own history month and gained the attention of the streaming platform staff, she said.
"We were just so invested in identifying who the community was that we basically had to do all of this work by ourselves and with each other to say 'this is who we are, we've been here this whole time, this is the community that we are trying to highlight.'"