Monica - M: 18-year-old streamer rallies for equality among gamers
The university student/streamer from Myanmar shot to sudden stardom mere months after her debut.
To celebrate women who have contributed to the growth of esports and gaming in Southeast Asia, this series of profiles aim to tell the story of five women who have made a positive impact in their respective fields.
That was a line that stood out to the writer in the midst of his chat with Myanma Facebook Gaming Creator, Monica - M (or simply Monica), who was beaming the entire time during the video interview. She recently celebrated her milestone of amassing 200k followers on her Facebook page since she started streaming video games in October last year. Having interviewed Monica, it’s easy to see how she got her quick ascent to streamer stardom.
Giggling and chatting away like old friends from the get-go, it was easy to warm up to Myayoon “Monica” SanMee Ko Ko. Having graduated from high school just last year, making her success all the more admirable. She attributed it to her streaming frequently and interacting with her fans a lot - this is to the point that she even plays Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) with them. “Their support means a lot to me,” the 18-year-old said, referencing the times her devoted fans made tribute videos of her as one of her proudest moments as a streamer. “I’m very thankful to all my fans for helping me reach this milestone.”
Getting the support she needs
As one can tell by now, her fan base is of paramount priority to the university student. With a love for video games since young, “I’ve always liked to play games with other people, which is why I enjoy streaming.” Even though Monica has gamed alone before, she admits that it can get lonely not speaking to anyone. But by streaming, not only does she have a circle of fans she can bond with over gaming sessions, she even gets free lessons in sharpening her MLBB skills. “My viewers are usually better at the game than I am, so they’ve given me a lot of advice and strategies for MLBB - they’re like my teachers.”
With so much support from her fans, one wonders if the same applies to her family as well. According to Monica, when she asked her parents for permission to try out streaming during high school, they were hesitant about it. “They felt that I still had a lot to learn, and that streaming might not be a good career. Plus, I haven’t passed my final exams yet.” Fortunately, they found a compromise: Monica promised to pass her final exams first and to perform well in her tertiary studies while pursuing her endeavour. Needles to say, the opportunity her parents gave her has paid off beautifully.
A double life
Juggling her studies and streaming schedule can be tricky, akin to adults working a full-time job and a part-time one after work. But for the girl with a sunny disposition, all that matters is that balancing the two is possible. Monica admits it can be hard to prioritise between them, but “all you have to do is manage your schedule carefully. If you do the right things during the right times, then it’ll be okay.” She added with a finality, “I can do it.”
This gamer packs a punch when it comes to her determination to be an international streamer. But, is it a career that’s a cup of tea for interested individuals? “Anyone can pursue streaming,” Monica said without hesitation. “As long as you stream consistently and interact with your fans a lot, then you can do it.” Streaming, in its essence, is entertaining your audience, and if you don’t talk to your viewers, they wouldn’t be happy. “It’s important to not only play your games well, but also care about your supporters.” They are, after all, the reason why popular streamers got to where they are today.
Be the bigger woman
Alas, not all who watch Monica’s streams are as friendly as her troupe. Being a female streamer also brings its own set of challenges that male counterparts are less likely to face, most notably the inappropriate harassment they face online. “I can get uncomfortable by those, but I can handle it,” Monica said, adding that usually only a few of these bad apples appear at a time, not to mention that she has the support of her legion of fans to drown out the haters. “We can’t control how people think of us, but we can control our own mind. For me, I’ll focus on the ones who support me and ignore the haters.” The Yangon native even filters through their comments to see if there’s any useful advice to take note of. “We create happiness in our own different ways.”
For every ill intention, there are motives behind such malicious actions. Monica believes that a portion of the community generalise female streamers as attention seekers who flaunt their good looks, lacking the skills to be bona fide streamers. “It would be nice if people don’t judge streamers by their gender,” she said, adding that this mindset is toxic. “Negative thoughts do nothing to help anyone. Instead, we should be helping each other out to build a friendly and healthy community.” Monica believes that the solution to this age-old problem in gaming, lies in educating one another on how to fairly perceive women in gaming and raising awareness on the capabilities of female gamers.
On an utterly non-serious note, Monica confesses that she has just the right skillset to be a capable MLBB player in the world of streaming. Reflecting on some of her embarrassing moments in-stream, there were a few times when she was playing with her fans and died a lot in-game “to the point that I wanted to end the stream, I wanted to show that I can play well too.” Although her fans teased her for the many mistakes she made, Monica didn’t mind, aware that it’s all in good fun. “I even compiled these moments and put them in my funny highlights videos,” she said giddily. “I can be quite hot-tempered when playing, which my fans are amused by.”
Goes to show that there are many ways to entertain viewers other than sick gameplay - if you’re a budding game streamer, it’s vital to find your own voice so that you’ll stand out from the crowd. “Find out what are your direction and goals,” Monica said. “Don’t be afraid of the challenges you’ll face, and instead focus on achieving them. But, don’t forget to do the things that make you happy too.”