Tag Archives: mixer

Ninja Streams A Game With A Woman; World Doesn’t End

On Wednesday, controversy surrounding Fortnite golden boy Tyler “Ninja” Blevins resurfaced after a high-profile callout of his apparent avoidance of streaming with female gamers. Blevins defended himself on Twitter and, on Friday afternoon, did in fact play Fortnite with a female gamer.

Blevins was criticized 14 months ago after telling Polygon “I don’t play with female gamers.” At the time he said he didn’t want to put his wife “through that,” saying it could lead to claims of flirting and worse.

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It’s unclear how much he streamed with women since then, but a series of events brought the topic back this week.

On Wednesday, when Lady Gaga asked who Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was, the obvious answer was “The biggest streamer on Earth.” That wasn’t the description longtime Twitch streamer Kacey “Kaceytron” Caviness gave on Twitter:

“He’s one of the most popular streamers on the internet and he doesn’t support women as he publicly announced he will never duo stream with any woman.”

Blevins replied to Caviness three hours later, saying that since the article he has “played squads with multiple women after that article over the last year and a half as well as hosted MANY female streamers.”

Looking back at the 14 months since Blevins’ controversial statement, it’s been difficult to find many female gamers he intentionally queued up with for games. There was the 13-year-old Fortnite streamer Ewok. He also streamed with the 61-year-old talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres. It’s certainly possible he has streamed with more female gamers, but not with any regularity. Some women Blevins’ fans said he’s played with, like Rachel “Asivrs” Retana, weren’t actually tapped by Blevins to be on his stream; they just queued up through the game.

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Kotaku has asked Blevins’ team whether they can elaborate on his Tweet and give examples of women he has intentionally queued up for games with. They did not return the request for comment.

Today, however, he sure did it. The woman on his stream is Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, a capable and high-energy streamer for the team 100 Thieves, and the part of Blevins’ chat that’s making it through moderation seems to be enjoying her presence. Others ask: “What happened to no playing with girls?”

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Caviness has been receiving a barrage of hate for pointing out Blevins’ 2018 statement. Among thousands of tweets sent to her over the past 24 hours, some have called her a “retard,” a “bitch,” a “thot” and a “feminazi.” Many of these messages defend Blevins’ decision, saying he did it “out of respect for his wife.” (Caviness, whom Kotaku has profiled, has remained relevant on Twitch since 2013 for her satire and provocative sense of humor.)

“At the time [of the Polygon article] he was the most popular Fortnite streamer, played with all of the other popular guy streamers… essentially making it a club that female Fortnite players were left out of,” said Caviness on Twitter. “Being a female in gaming, it upset me. Do I want to play with Ninja? Fuck no, appeasing sponsors and babysitting kids isn’t really my forte.”

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Thanks to the ADL for sharing their research on tweets sent to Caviness after her statement.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ninja Sings ‘Old Town Road’ In A Giant Ice Cream Costume For The Masked Singer Premiere

Have you heard of The Masked Singer? It’s a Fox competition show where a group of mysterious contestants dress up in outlandish costumes and sing for a panel of judges. Over the course of a season, each singer—referred to by their costume—gives clues as to who they really are (the competitors are all minor celebrities of some sort) while one by one they are eliminated and unmasked. It’s a little bit Eurovision, a little bit pro wrestling, and maybe the closest thing we have to a Power Rangers reality show.

On The Masked Singer’s second season premiere this week, one of the first performers to be eliminated was Ice Cream—a friendly looking man-sized Pistachio cone with sprinkles that was revealed to be Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, streamer extraordinaire.

In his brief but illustrious career as Ice Cream, Ninja sang songs like the Devo classic “Whip It” while a robot Ladybug danced:

And also “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X’s breakout hit of the summer.

If you want to know how close The Masked Singer’s panelists—which include Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke, and noted anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy—got to guessing Ninja’s identity, they very quickly suggested “YouTuber” when Ice Cream gave his clues, and PewDiePie was guessed just before the reveal, which I’m sure made Ninja feel great.

The Masked Singer is a trip.

Source: Kotaku.com

What Mixer Has That Twitch Doesn’t (Besides Ninja)

Image: Ninja on Mixer

Microsoft recently put their streaming service Mixer back in the spotlight by securing exclusive rights to Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who had been one of the top streamers on Twitch. Exclusive streamers aside, there are several compelling reasons to stream and watch streams on Microsoft’s platform instead of Amazon-owned Twitch.

Mixer started life as Beam, an independent streaming service launched in January 2016. Microsoft purchased Beam in August of 2016 and announced integration with Windows 10 that October. By spring of 2017 the Beam service was integrated into both the Windows operating system and Xbox One. In May of 2017 the service was renamed Mixer due to the name Beam not being available for international use.

Mixer’s basic functionality is the same as Twitch. Players use the service to stream their gameplay over the internet, either directly from PC or Xbox One or from other consoles using capture hardware connected to a PC. Streamers on Mixer earn money by soliciting donations or subscriptions from viewers.

So what makes Mixer different?

Community Interaction

One of Mixer’s defining features is its focus on community interaction. The service boasts extremely low latency between streamers and viewers, allowing for timely interactive features. Instead of a 10-20 second delay between broadcast and viewing, Beam’s low latency protocol lowers the delay to under a second, making interaction between watchers and players more immediate.

These interactions generally manifest in the form of viewer-activated buttons. There can be voting buttons along the side of the stream, interactive commands overlapping the stream and easy access donation buttons. So many buttons.

In the image above, streamer Ship has set up a mini-game where viewers can predict events that occur during rounds of Fortnite. At the beginning of each round spectators receive 100 stars to wager, winning or losing stars based on the accuracy of their predictions. It’s a fun little activity that makes viewers feel more connected to what they’re watching.

I’m particularly fond of the silly beach ball interaction, which drops a ball on the screen and tracks how many users click on the hands at the bottom of the screen to keep it bouncing. It’s what Mixer calls a “rally,” a special skill viewers can activate that other viewers can participate in. These and other skills unlock as viewers experience levels increase. Which leads us to …

Experience Points And Sparks

As users watch Mixer streams, they gain experience points. Everyone loves gaining experience points. When enough experience points are gained, a user increases their experience level. This grants them access to more emotes and skills, used to express themselves as they watch their favorite streamers play. Mixer effectively turns watching other people play games into a game.

I am currently level 15, just from tuning into random streams sporadically since early 2018. I earn experience points automatically while watching. A little box in the top right of my screen keeps track of how much experience I am accumulating and how much I need to reach the next level. I’ve got a long way to go to level 40, when I unlock the “Piece of Me” effect.

Users also earn an in-app currency called Sparks as they watch or broadcast on Mixer. Sparks are what viewers use to activate skills, enable interactive features, and use community-created apps. Using Sparks during the streams of partnered Mixer streamers contributes to the financial rewards they receive from the service. Otherwise, Sparks are just a neat way to make some noise and express yourself while watching others play.

Co-Streaming

In March, Twitch launched a featured called Squad Streaming for partners. Mixer’s been doing it since 2017, allowing groups of up to four players to merge their streams into one. Watching co-op online games is much more satisfying when you can see the action from every player’s perspective.

It’s Not Twitch

Twitch has dominated game streaming for so long now, it’s nice to see someone playing a game surrounded by an interface that isn’t the same old white and purple, watching the same horrible emojis and comments speed by on the right side of the screen. Despite being around for years, Mixer feels fresh compared to Amazon’s streaming juggernaut.

Mixer is also more chill. Even when I watched watched the platform’s recently-acquired superstar alongside 35,000 other viewers, the chat rolled by at a manageable pace. It’s the most relaxed I’ve ever felt watching Ninja stream.

It’s Also Not Perfect

Even with Ninka, Mixer has a long way to go before it’s a serious threat to Twitch’s streaming dominance. It needs to be able to stream natively from platforms other than PC and Xbox One. It needs a lot more viewers. As I write this on a Tuesday afternoon, the most-viewed stream second to Ninja’s 30,000+ is Monstercat Radio with a measly 4,200. It’s not going to be the most popular streaming service anytime soon, but it’s already a damn good one.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Wig Joke In Ninja’s Mixer Announcement Sucked

Superstar streamer Ninja is leaving Twitch for Mixer. This afternoon, he’s been serving up his first Mixer stream, broadcasting in front of a live crowd at Lollapalooza and also garnering tens of thousands of online viewers. The move to Mixer was announced yesterday in a short ad full of light-hearted jokes aimed at the hype surrounding this niche platform announcement. One joke in the ad—an archaic gag about a character in drag’s wig falling off—baffled and unsettled me.

The ad depicts a press conference held by Ninja, who stands at a podium. He announces that in the future he will be streaming exclusively on Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer. He fields questions from eager audience members, several of whom are in costumes. One audience member is the bush from Fortnite; another is a cooler of Red Bull wearing a hat. Other audience members are played by Ninja himself, but in various disguises. There’s Ninja as an old man, and Ninja in glasses and a suit. There’s also Ninja in a wig and dress, sporting heavy lipstick and mustache stubble.

Near the end of the ad, the Ninja at the podium calls for a tech named Steve—who is also played by Ninja in a different costume—to press a button labelled “big announcement.” Instead, Steve stares blankly, twirling a banana. During the wait, the camera cuts back to show the dress-clad Ninja tossing their head back, knocking off their wig. The audience gasps in shock, and the character lets loose some appalled falsetto shouts.

Drag queens and trans women’s wigs falling off is an old comedy gag, although it’s one that has fallen out of fashion as society’s view of trans people has become more accepting. The construction of jokes like this, particularly the reactions of shock by other people, plays into tropes about trans people deceiving others or being fake. It furthers the narrative that trans people are ‘really’ the gender they were assigned at birth and that their current presentation is a costume or disguise. The punchline of ‘it’s really a man!’ and responding to that with gasps normalizes panic as an acceptable response to finding out someone is trans, a response that can get real trans people killed.

It’s hard to tell what the wig joke is trying to do in this ad. The audience members being disguised as question-asking Ninjas might be a play at the streamer’s popularity and a way to poke some self-reflective fun at what is a very insider-y announcement. But a punchline revealing the most eager questioners to actually be Ninja could have been made using any character in the audience. The suit-wearing man’s glasses could have fallen off, or the old man’s bald cap. Ninja could have morphed into Steve and pressed the button himself. But Ninja in a dress and stubble is framed here as being the flimsiest disguise, as well as the one that we’re culturally most used to spotting. We’ve seen the wig-falling-off joke before, so it reads as joke, and the gender reveal element—not just “that’s really Ninja,” but “that’s really a man”—gives it an extra punch. Ultimately, it’s a joke that has nothing to do with Ninja, games, or streaming.

By making trans people a punchline, the ad’s creators are reminding trans people like me that we’re not the audience for this announcement. We’re apparently not in the demographic of people targeted by the ad, which is supposed to be anyone who watches Ninja, or Mixer, or Ninja on Mixer. As I wrote back in October when PC marketplace GOG made an equally dull transphobic joke, “every time this happens, it feels like one more reminder that at least one person who works at a company that makes things I like thinks my existence is funny, and that enough people there either agree or don’t disagree strongly enough to stop them.”

I’ve had trouble getting the Mixer ad out of my head since I saw it yesterday. I think it’s because I just spent last weekend covering the Fortnite World Cup, where Ninja featured prominently. In my reflections on the event, I wondered whether Ninja and his adult streamer compatriots should be expected to be role models for young Fortnite players. Adults and kids play side by side in Fortnite, functioning in many ways like peers. In my weekend at the event, the huge age range of attendees and competitors seemed largely positive.

After watching the ad, I thought about all the kids I’d seen at the World Cup gazing at Ninja or calling his name from the stands. Statistically, some of those kids are trans. How many of them are actually watching a Mixer ad is up for debate, but the ad has over 1.4 million views on Ninja’s YouTube page, and it’s his pinned tweet. Some little trans Ninja fan has certainly seen it, and I worry about how it might make them feel. If Ninja is their role model, this ad might tell them that it’s OK for people to make jokes at their expense. If they see Ninja as a peer, they’re learning not to expect their peers to treat them with respect. They’re learning, even if only in a subtle way, that this aspect of who they are is something to be laughed at instead of something to be proud of.

By now, I’ve been out as trans for over two decades; I live a life surrounded by other trans people, where I can be out, generally, without risking my safety. Ninja being part of a tired joke with a transphobic history can’t really do anything to me, not in the same way that it might have when I was younger or earlier in my transition. But it can potentially do a lot of harm to his young audience. A lot of young eyes are watching Ninja’s move from Twitch to Mixer, and it’s a shame this is the first thing they had to see. 

Source: Kotaku.com