How many year-end articles will remind you – not that you need to be reminded – 2020 has been difficult. That made it more difficult than usual to choose certain people for us annual list of influential players. Anyone who this year gave a friend, loved one, or even a stranger a smile by playing a game with them, did something wonderful.
Over the past few years we’ve highlighted pro gamers, speed runners, modders, hackers, and even these two types discovered The Nobody’s heaven didn’t really start with multiplayer.
This year we’re introducing four people who have combined games with activism to make the gaming world – or really just the world at large – a better place.
Contributions to our awardees were made by Robin Mosley and Kotaku senior reporter Nathan Grayson.
Amira “Xmiramira” Virgil
… the innovator who worked to ensure that black visibility is a priority in the Sims community
The Sims The series owes a lot to players like Amira “Xmiramira” Virgil, who is one of the series’ most influential content creators. She is an EA Game Changer, which means that she is a part of The Sims Publisher community program that highlights top players and contributors. And she made good use of this platform. In 2020 she helped to improve in collaboration with other Game Changer, EbonixSims, CatherineSims, Mia Zaff and Rio Sims 4 Gameplay through collaboration with EA and initiation new skin tones that helped underrepresented Simmers feel seen. This only happened after Virgil and her colleagues talked about a lack of content for Black Sims for years.
If you don’t know her from Amira, you may know her as Xmiramira
The Spark’d winner also contributed The Black Futures Project, an anthology about asking and answering the question: “What does it mean to be black and alive now?” In the book, Virgil describes the community she created for Black Sims players. The black simmer.
Virgil centered black voices and created safe spaces for blacks to be black. She did that despite microaggressions of undesirable Sims Rooms that ignore the need for black hair, skin, etc. Virgil made a big impact on the way Sims Players think about the game and enjoy it. She has inspired younger creators to find their own way in this industry.
Everything she’s done for the Sims community has paid off because she recently signed with a women-run gaming lifestyle company Queens Gaming Collective that will try to level the playing field in a predominantly male-dominated industry. Virgil’s star shines so brightly that there is nothing she can do next. – Robin Mosley
Danielle “EbonixSims” Udogaranya
… the innovator and designer who helped put Black UK Simmers on the map
Danielle “EbonixSims” Udogaranya has worked to put Black UK streamers and simmers in the spotlight. In the Sims community EbonixSims Ebonix is also a big advocate of diversity, inclusion and representation.
Udogaranya leads them website
As EA Game Changer, she was instrumental in fixing a long-standing accurate display issue in the Sims community regarding the December skin tones update.
The UK-based content creator and Twitch partner has not only battled for representation in games, but through #EndSars and the BLM movement Shedding light on abuse Black people face it worldwide. Udogaranya’s use of digital activism this year was key as it raises black voices around the world.
Udogaranya is also the founder of BlackTwitchUK, an organization that promotes Black Streamers online. BlackTwitchUK is known for raising money for important organizations through the collective power of gaming. The last fundraiser was for Special effect, a UK-based charity that helps players with physical disabilities play games.
Her reach is important because what she creates is a representation of what she sees as the beauty of blackness inside and out. And the response from people was positive. Of T-pain For less famous people, everyone has found their content central to their gameplay.
My custom content experience started with Udogaranya’s content. Their website was the first place I saw culturally relevant Sims and I didn’t look back. I am grateful for her work and dedication to the industry, and she continues to be an inspiration to younger Black Simmers / content creators who are finding their way through the industry. – Robin Mosley
Ask “Cypheroftyr” DePass
… an advocate of various games who campaigned for racial justice
During a troubled year, the country’s smoldering fury boiled over at the beginning of summer when police murdered George Floyd in broad daylight, as did so many blacks before him. As protests raged on the streets, companies whirled around online, performing performatively to make up for black users to fail for … forever. This forced both Twitch and the streaming community to look inward different levels of success (and little on the way to long-term change), but as a result black streamers briefly received a long overdue recognition. With this in mind, Tanya DePass, director of the non-profit I Need Diverse Games, has done a tremendous job Deer crossing Marathon stream. On the stream, she raised almost $ 200,000 for the national nonprofit The Bail Project, which aims to pay bail for people in need and ultimately end the cash bail system entirely.
A few months later, DePass started – along with a number of other developers and performers In the motherlands, a sci-fi tabletop role-playing game created entirely by colored people. The sessions on her Twitch channel continued to pull in, sometimes exceeding half a million viewers – a major achievement given the hard-to-ignore wisdom that floods through other popular tabletop streams. Everywhere DePass also spoke on numerous panels and stepped in and produced D & D. actual game stream Rivals of Waterdeepthat also put people of color in the spotlight.
The streaming ecosystem – and the gaming industry in general– has failed black streamers and viewers repeatedly, but DePass, their staff, and those they inspired continue to improve the status quo even as big corporations – the supposed administrators of the platforms DePass and countless others broadcast on – do the bare minimum to be meaningful help them. – Nathan Grayson
… the left-wing streamer who made Twitch a target for political reporting
Hasan Piker was hardly an unknown quantity on Twitch at the start of 2020, but this was undeniably his breakout year. The coverage of the outspoken left on the presidential election in some cases competed with large networks in terms of viewership. In contrast to these buttoned-down programs, however, Piker brought a relatable authenticity to the process by translating important national events and politically charged Twitter spats for an unruly audience (Piker lovingly jokes that he “babysits” the viewers who watch his stream Call home).
At a time when the Internet wasn’t producing that much content, but producing a trembling, undifferentiated mass of material every few microseconds, Pikers Stream provided an essential service, curating the madness in a way that isolated the essential. He did this in a decidedly modern way and digested politics one browser tab at a time (out of an honestly absurd number). As current Vice (and earlier Kotaku) Employee Gita Jackson Put it: “Piker’s attraction is not just what he says, but also how he presents information. While your parents were most likely watching CNNJohn King taps around on a huge touchscreen on a voting card, Piker sorted the outgoing polls and reported early like me: clicking wildly between the tabs of different news sites, YouTube streams and different chats. “
Not so long ago conventional wisdom said that Politics was a restricted area for Twitch streamers– at least if they wanted to keep their audience numbers. Thanks in part to Piker, this is no longer the case. Many other streamers, large and small, are now also dipping their buckets into the political well. All of this culminated in October with one of the biggest political events of the year: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar flocked Between us alongside Piker, Imane “Pokimane” Anys and many other top streamers. The event was a huge success and attracted millions of viewers over the course of the run. Since then, AOC has dealt even more with Twitch, as have other politicians such as the leader of the New Democratic Party in Canada, Jagmeet Singh, and most recently Georgian Senatorial candidate Raphael Warnock.
So Piker sometimes plays video games. – Nathan Grayson
These are our tips. Do you want to celebrate other influential players? Please mention them in the comments below.
Recent award winners