Over the last six months Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has grown to unprecedented heights on the platform, right alongside the meteoric rise of Fortnite as one of the biggest games in the world. But with that growth has come a lot of criticism for Ninja, specifically with regards to why he doesn’t play with women on stream.
Now, in an interview with Polygon, Ninja has addressed the question of why he doesn’t play with female gamers on stream and in turn, created a new critique. According to Ninja, he chooses not to play with female gamers on stream out of respect for his wife, Jessica, and to avoid instances where the Internet over-exaggerates if his interactions are deemed too flirty.
“If I have one conversation with one female streamer where we’re playing with one another, and even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever.”
Ninja goes on to explain that he made the decision himself and was not urged by his wife to do so. He recognizes the potential strain it could put on her and their relationship and decided it was best to avoid those situations by not playing with females.
“That was not even her. She had nothing to do with it. That was me being, ‘I love our relationship,’ and, ‘No — I’m not even gonna put you through that.’”
As expected, Ninja’s response has drawn both criticism and support. On the one hand, many streamers and gamers feel that Ninja’s position as the top streamer on the top streaming platform has the potential to change the narrative surrounding female gamers. By him playing with other female streamers and having innocent casual conversation, Ninja can say that it is possible to interact with someone of the opposite sex as friends and nothing can come of it.
Conversely, there are those that respect Ninja’s decision if only because they know how awful the Internet can be. No doubt Ninja has faced his fair share of hate and overblown stories, and by playing with female gamers he brings his wife into that circle. Not to mention, Ninja’s audience skews very young, as evidenced by his decision to stop cursing on streams. A lack of maturity will lead to situations where, no matter how false the claims may be, he and his wife have to face harassment over something so trivial.
Perhaps by Ninja coming out and saying why he doesn’t play with females, he can pre-empt the videos, comments, and tweets and hopefully, that will lead to a change in the future. No matter their personal reason, having the biggest Twitch streamer closed off from a whole section of the community hurts the growth of the platform as a whole.