Sabrina Zainal: Hustling to be a safe space for viewers
The Malaysian gamer values the importance of being a responsible streamer and hopes to build a healthy gaming environment for everyone.
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.
We humans tend to thrive better when we have social bonds with people we trust. Whether it’s society, a loving relationship with your significant other, or even a community of video game streamers, that warm and fuzzy feeling we adore is there when we’re relishing in our shared connection. It’s an emotion that Facebook Gaming Creator, Sabrina Zainal, hopes to replicate in her video game streams for fans.
“I started live streaming because I like talking to people,” said Sabrina, who formally goes by Wan Khairunnisa Nur Sabrina, adding that she wants to create a safe space for her viewers to be themselves. “Sometimes people are more comfortable sharing their personal problems with strangers, which is a concept I understand." That’s why she chose PUBG Mobile as her regular streaming game, saying that “it’s one of the simplest games to play so I can chat with my fans”, due to quiet periods in the game where she can relax and focus on interacting with her viewers.
Despite streaming the mobile battle royale game, Sabrina (not the witch from Netflix) cites an entirely different type of game as “the most impactful game” for her: Minecraft. Not only is it a personal favourite of hers, but it’s also the game that helped her put one foot in the gaming world. It’s fitting that the Mojang game is one that’s focused on building, as it built the metaphorical bridge that connected the Perak native with a community of Malaysian gamers (Nerd Gaming Malaysia), kickstarting her streaming career.
“It’s one of the most relatable groups of gamers I’ve ever been with,” she opined, saying that she pretty much grew up in the industry with her peers. But, having joined the gamer band in 2015, she was live streaming on other platforms with her streamer friends before trying out Facebook Gaming during its infancy stage in 2017. “We only streamed for fun back then,” but now, a lot of modern streamers are competitive, which Sabrina thought can be put to good use. “If you’re passionate about it, you would want to hustle for your channel,” suggesting that one would know when to improve themselves whenever their viewership dips.
Red Dead Redemption
Despite the above, having less viewers doesn’t always mean that the streamer is at fault; sometimes it’s even human mistakes that they unintentionally made, painting a target on their back that attracts people with digital pitchforks. One long day after work, Sabrina was hanging out at fellow streamer/Yoodo Gank player ManParang’s live stream when things got a little tense. She was asked for the upteenth time to gift a fan premium PUBG Mobile in-game currency in the comments - which has happened to her countless times via spam calls and messages (both phone and social media) that she “even hired a personal assistant solely to handle them” - that she accidentally snapped at her fan, causing a rift between her and other fans who have been berating her ever since.
“I was so tired it didn’t feel like me at the time”, Sabrina recalled, admitting that she felt guilty for leaving it in that state. “So, I made a public apology to be a good example for my followers, although people still took it the wrong way.” She also iterated that viewers shouldn’t berate streamers by repeatedly asking them for gifts, and to be more considerate of the streamer’s well-being. Notwithstanding the incident, the Ampang resident is grateful for the lessons she has learned from it to be a better person and influencer. “Mistakes make you wiser and more grateful.”
We are the world
It’s an issue that could’ve happened to entertainers of any gender, but streaming for the ladies may bring about different obstacles compared to their male counterpart. “We’re no strangers to sexism, stereotyping and inequality, not to mention that being compared to other female streamers doesn’t make us feel good,” although Sabrina acknowledges that guys would face the same thing time to time.
The Malaysian gamer copes with such occurrences by focusing on the brighter side. “If I see any toxicity, I ignore them and remind myself that I can’t please everyone. The number of haters you'd have is a vocal minority anyway,” picking off her own personal book of coping mechanisms by also mentioning to enjoy one’s own leisure time after-stream and confide in your circle of streamer friends to help with one's feelings. However, it’s not something that should merely be tolerated - similar to harassment and generalisation - and should instead be changed for the better, which is achievable.
To start things off, it’s vital for every streamer to have a good mindset and be self-aware (“the older I get, the more careful I am about what I post online”), so they can set good examples for their viewers and pass along the right thought process. “Streaming is one way to build a community; if you built a community, they’ll probably follow your mindset.” If viewers are positively affected, they’ll even defend other streamers when they’re getting harassed.” She believes that we have a chance to improve things, as the industry is still growing.
But for now, girls need to be aware that even though the gaming community is dominated by males, it doesn’t mean they’re excluded. “There are a lot of other female streamers out there, so you’re not alone. Just have the right mindset and be strong, then you’re ready to be a streamer.”
Looking for a place to be yourself? Join the get-together in Sabrina Zainal's live streams on Facebook Gaming every day, at 9AM - 3PM (+8 GMT).