@zeloinator, 21 – FUNDED

Stephanie S. — @Zeloinator on Twitch — is one of our 1DF BroadcastHER Academy winners, representing seasoned streamers who are making a positive difference in the industry. Ask her, and she’ll say she plays way too much Overwatch. But, what she’s really passionate about is growing her gaming platform to be an e-sports disability advocate while connecting with others who might be disabled like her. She sees such a need to break stigma and help people on stream and beyond. Here’s what else she had to say.

What is your dream as a digital broadcaster?

I’d love to be a disability advocate for other gamers. I’m disabled and gaming is one of the few things that doesn’t cause too many flare-ups for me. I want to let people know there are gamers out there with the skill to be pro even if they are disabled. I also want to bring attention to the disabled gaming community and how difficult and expensive it is to get adaptive gaming equipment for those who need it.

What does being the BroadcastHER Academy winner, which includes a $1,000 grant and all-expense-paid visit to the HyperX Esports Arena to shadow, mean to you and how will it help you reach your goals?  

It means the world to me. When I applied, I thought I didn’t stand a chance. So when I won, I was in shock for a few days. The grant will help me get equipment to make my stream better — for example, my headset is failing, so now I will also be able to get a new one that works!

Women are underrepresented in gaming, broadcasting, and e-sports. What can we do to change this?

Women are often harassed in gaming. I have been harassed on stream and off too many times to count. I think we have to create platforms that boost women and encourage them to actually go pro while showcasing amazing women who play. We also need to have a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment.

What are you most inspired by when it comes to creating encouraging content for young women in gaming, broadcasting, and e-sports

I’m very inspired by other female streamers. I want to become a large streamer so I can inspire others while educating on disability in e-sports, which is something you don’t really see in this industry. And, I’m inspired by myself — even if that sounds a little conceited. It took me 10 years to find a diagnosis for my disability — and that was after I had so many doctors and other people not believing me. Through it all, I never gave up. And, even though I was unable to fulfill an initial dream, I found a new dream and passion in e-sports.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I have been harassed in games — and it ranges from “can I date you” pick-up lines to absolutely terrifying threats. I also deal with extreme chronic pain that no pain medication can relieve, so playing is nearly impossible for me on some days. I have been held back from so much because of my disability — for example, I cannot go into half the buildings where I live because they have a step or stairs and no ramp. It’s hard to not let the harassment and pain get to me, and sometimes time I get angry when it’s too much. But I have a passion for video games, and I am never giving up on this passion.

What advice do you have for women who want to start broadcasting?

My advice is to just go for it and believe in yourself. The audience will be small, and progress can be really slow, but you learn as you grow. Also, I recommend having a group of friends who you can either stream alongside you or play games with you. In my experience, having this group of friends has helped me ignore the hate and harassment and keep a positive attitude!

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

Honestly, my boyfriend is a huge help to me. I met him while playing Overwatch, and we’ve been together for a year. He helps me so much and is so supportive of me and my dreams. I also am motivated by my desire to grow as a streamer, so I can get a larger audience and educate about disability.