"Fortnite" star Tyler "Ninja" Blevins yesterday defended not streaming video game play with women, saying it was to guard against marriage-wrecking rumours. Blevins took to Twitter to address a furore that erupted online after his reasoning for not streaming live play with women was shared at gaming website Polygon. "While I understand some people have implied my views mean I have something against playing with women, I want to make clear the issue I'm addressing is online harassment, and my attempt to minimize it from my own life," Blevins said in a message at his verified @ninja Twitter account with more than three million followers.
"It is something that affects all streamers, especially ones that make their relationships public." Critics accused the US gamer of reinforcing a gender stereotype that the world of gaming and eSports is for men. "I really like Ninja, but this feels like a cop out," a fan tweeted. "You are free to do what you want, but understand you are encouraging a system that already heavily excludes women." Blevins has millions of subscribers to his channels on Google video sharing platform YouTube and Amazon-owned Twitch, reportedly earning more than USD 500,000 monthly thanks to his fans. "Fortnite" is a global sensation, with entertaining play and commentary a hit with online viewers.
"Fortnite" became an eSports phenomenon after the release late last year of a free "Battle Royale" mode that lets up to 100 players vie to be the last character standing on the ever-shrinking terrain. Hip-hop superstar Drake set a streaming record on Twitch in March, drawing 628,000 viewers for a live stream of him battling for survival in the shoot-'em'-up the adventure with players including Blevins. In the Polygon interview, Blevins said that streaming fame comes with online viewers intensely scrutinizing words and actions, reading into what they see and potentially starting rumours of flirting or affairs that could wreck a marriage, He and his wife, also a gamer, recently celebrated one year of marriage. "I didn't see it as a hit against women at all," streamer @MissAliCatt tweeted in an exchange about the Ninja news. "He just wants to make his wife happy and in my opinion that's amazing."