A rose among the thorns
Hey there eGGlets we are starting a new weekly series of exclusive interviews where we speak to local and international esports personalities. Through these conversations, we want to hear and share their stories and experiences; taste their high points and low moments.
This week we spoke to Andriyana Mohamed Ghazali a.k.a ChuChu Gaming – a passionate lady in a largely male dominated esports scene. She is a local caster and streamer that is quite popular in Malaysia. She shares her unlikely journey in becoming one of the most well-known streamer here.
Study or Gaming?
ChuChu was an ordinary girl from Selangor that loved esports. At first, she started getting involved in esports just for fun but the journey that brought her where she is now was beyond her wildest dreams.
You would be quite surprised because ChuChu started gaming when she was in primary school, playing Warcraft and Starcraft. Not only was she an avid gamer, she was also a bright student – eventually pursuing a medical degree in Egypt! Did her studies stop her from going into esports? No, and this was what ChuChu had to say “knowledge, degree, diploma, masters, PhD – they are always valuable, no matter whatever field you are working in.” For her, knowledge is important, even if you have a career in the gaming/esports industry.
Even when her university life started in 2009, she organized a few online Dota 2 tournaments for Malaysian students using the EU server every winter. They called it the “Winter League”. ChuChu said, “I always organized it during winter because that’s when we have our study leave.”
Every parent wants to see their son/daughter be successful. This was the same as ChuChu’s parents who wanted her to be someone with great achievements and social standing. Their ideas however, were not the same as ChuChu’s own dreams. She said, “Its hard for them to understand at first, but I fulfilled my parents’ wish to have someone in the family with a medical degree and did my responsibilities as a daughter with the house chores and cooking, so they eventually let me do what made me happy.” So it was a win-win situation as long as she made her parents happy. She expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the understanding her family showed her, and feels that she is quite lucky. She notes that this can be especially hard for those from Asian families to convince parents that video games can be a legitimate career path and source of income. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Baby Steps in the Esports Scene.
In 2012, she started to try shoutcasting and back then, it was still very rare to see a girl do this. She was primarily inspired by TobiWan and LD – famous Dota 2 casters – and she realised that the Malaysian esports scene didn’t have that many casters so she just wanted to try and have fun at the same time.
She said “We had this Dota platform in Garena, where you can enter any server in any region you wanted. I was curious about the Malaysian server players, so I tried to play there and test some stuff out. Even though there were lags and delays, a lot of the players I met there were quite helpful in guiding me to develop my gaming skills, so I stuck around for a bit and made a lot of friends. Most of them are now involved in Malaysia’s budding esports scene. They gave me a bit of exposure and that’s how I got involved in DotaTalk.”
So this was how she started casting Dota but she did not stay long with DotaTalk because she left to do freelance casting. Well, why did she leave the organization?
Passion Makes You Stronger
“The organizer replaced me without my knowledge even after I was told to standby and had been waiting for 10 hours without sleeping (due to being in a different time zone from Malaysia) and later I casted back to back for 7-10 hours, all without payment.” She was very upset with the management at that time because they took advantage of people that were passionate in esports.
She wasn’t the only one in that tournament who wasn’t compensated. “Most of the casters were paid to cast. Even if we were paid for casting the whole tournament, we would probably just get a mouse. If you did get paid, or got something else, you were considered lucky enough.”
She added “But what hurt the most was if you were a female, and just want to be noticed for your skills, but didn’t have anybody on the inside, you pretty much wouldn’t get the opportunity to have a slot in casting. I remember I had to literally beg to cast. Up to that point, I tired of it and just went freelance casting for free.” After the incident, she left DotaTalk and began to do freelance casting till 2015.
Hiding Gender in Esports
Back in 2013, it was very rare to see a woman involved in esports because of the sentiment that women were “noobs and weak”. The esports community was largely harsh towards female gamers and ChuChu did experience it when she joined a Dota tournament in her university. “I had to hide my gender when I was playing Dota & Dota 2 back then, and they only knew my gender when we were required to register the details of each player for qualifiers or when I needed to use Teamspeak to communicate. Most players or gamers would say negative things about us, like “oh they play with her because it’s a SHE” or “SHE’s a girl, and girls are usually not good players.”
Besides that, for one of the tournaments that she wanted to join in her university, the organizer denied her entry. She said, “I was not allowed to join a Dota 2 tournament due to my gender because I was the only female in my team.” She was so frustrated with the organizer because she was discriminated just because she was female. “This ridiculous reason, among many others, made women less active in esports and this gender bias behaviour should not be tolerated.”
After she finished her studies she came back to Malaysia in April 2018 and started a streaming career. Why did she start streaming? ChuChu said “I started out just to have fun, it’s nice to have people to talk with or ask me stuff when I was playing games. I enjoy sharing my love for games to other people”. She streamed mostly Dota 2 and Mobile Legends and a lot of viewers really liked to watch these games being streamed.
Not all things were good when you stream games as a woman. She experienced verbal abuse when she was streaming, which caused her emotional distress. She said “I did get affected by things like that. I have feelings too” then she added “there was a lot of cursing involved.”
Whenever she faced verbal abuse in streams she would try to take it positively by saying “maybe these people just needed to vent at someone or just had a bad day.” and she also said that “everyone has a right to their own opinion and perspective, I cannot control what people say or react towards me, but I can control my own actions. Be good to others and others will be good to you.” She now hopes that people would think first before they type their minds out because people can be easily offended or hurt by one’s action.
The ChuChu Gang
ChuChu shared that she had few friends who helped her in her streaming career. “3 individuals helped me most in this process – they were there from the very beginning. The first 2 are Naqib and Rafi, both of them have been very supportive, motivating, and were always telling me to never give up in doing what I loved. Naqib especially has even supported me financially when I first started out. It was super hard to even have proper meals and good internet at first. Then there’s Edwardo, who was the first person who pushed me and guided me most with regards to streaming, and he gave me a lot of opportunities to move forward.”
Not only that, she also mentioned she won’t forget all of those who knew her back in her Dota and Dota 2 days. Other notable people included the FD squad, Rafi, KecikImba, Syabad, Dex, Aiman, Faris, Imp, Arham, Shafiq, Dehe, Sede, Duaa,Bonen, Derq, her university friends, ChuChu’s amazing viewers, and her moderators. “Almost everybody that I’ve met in my life have always supported me. I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of them because without them, I would not be where I am today.”
ChuChu: What’s Behind the Name?
“The name ChuChu – I got it from my Dota 2 days. A friend of mine named himself ChiChi, a Dragon Ball character, so I just made fun of that name, calling myself ChuChu, and it just stuck.”
“For now, I’m aiming to be among the best female representatives in the Malaysian esports scene. I want to help our Malaysian esports community to grow faster, stronger and better.”
If you want to know more about ChuChu you can head over to her Facebook page ChuChu Gaming.