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Women in Streaming: Sara Hovda

18th March 2021

Interview with Shovda

USA based Twitch streamer.

Name: Sara Hovda
Pronouns: She/her
Based in: United States
Platform: Twitch
Streams: Super Mario World romhacks

Hi Sara! Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

  1. I have a Masters in Literature and Creative Writing and am a published poet, including poems about gaming, such as this one.
  2. I attended a writing residency in Belgium in the summer of 2016. I spent a lot of time biking around, visiting the local town, and playing The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, in addition to reading and writing.
  3. I was in a classic rock/country band with a few adults from my church when I was ~15. I still have a copy of one of the albums we recorded.

When did your streaming journey begin, and what inspired you to start?

I started streaming in late 2013, after watching Siglemic speedrun Super Mario 64 for the previous year or more. I started off with 16-star speedruns of that game.

What's your favourite game/content to stream/share? What do you enjoy most about it?

Super Mario World romhacks/fangames. The community is very close-knit, and the people that matter are incredibly kind to both non-men and queer people generally. The bigger men streamers - BarbarousKing and CarlSagan42 come to mind especially - are infinitely kind and very outspoken against bigotry of any type.

Do you feel like there is a stigma for women streamers in the industry?

Absolutely. Even if they're not intending for their 'jokes' to be seriously or severely derogatory, people make comments about 'playing like a girl' or 'having no balls' and the like all the time. It's the whole category of microaggressions, which is something that needs to always be reexplained whenever something like that comes up, and it all becomes tiresome. When I started my transition, I was asked by a long-time viewer if I could feel myself becoming worse at video games now that I was on estrogen. I can't entirely fathom the thought process that goes into thinking that's a real thing that would happen, but it's born from stereotype and stigma. As an aside, I tell cisgender guys nowadays that hormones made me better at gaming just to get on their nerves.

And that's, you know, the most innocent, surface-level stuff. There's always men claiming that all growth and positive results that come to women are due to them being women, whether that be through their looks or being flirty or whatever. I think the idea that 'women can't game' has waned in public conversation, but it's being said in unlit corners, and at the same time I think the well-lighted areas still carry that same idea, just not as loudly spoken.

I think, partly, there's this implicit idea that women can either be conventionally attractive or good at gaming, but not both. But this isn't my field, and that's mostly conjecture coming from my anecdotes. To answer the question again, yes. Yes, there is a stigma.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to women who want to begin streaming?

I've got two. One is to find a community and a group of people you can trust. I won't say just to find a group of women to hang with, since I've had women as well, both cisgender and transgender, let me down in various ways. I think you're more likely to find comradery in people with similar experiences or relationships to power, but not always.

The second is not to be afraid to ban people who upset you or make you uncomfortable. It's something I've seen in a lot of growing streamers, and I've been there too. You don't want to ban someone because that's a lost viewer, and maybe the rest of chat will see you as stuck up. Screw it. Other people probably want that person to stop, but don't want to step on your toes, and your peace of mind is infinitely more important than someone's ability to troll or post nonsense or line-step in your space. Take out the trash.

Where can people find you online?

Twitch: twitch.tv/shovda
YouTube: youtube.com/c/shovda
Twitter: twitter.com/shovdashovda

Discover all of our #InternationalWomensDay interviews here.

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