YouTube, Twitch Streams And Toxicity In Gaming: A Chat With Hannafier

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“I want to be as big as Ellen”

This is the quote that best describes just how ambitious Hannah “Hannafier” Thorsen is. The 19-year-old has had a dream to be a content creator since the sixth grade when a friend introduced her to Markiplier.

“I always knew that I wanted to be there for people, to make them smile. So when I heard about Markiplier, I thought ‘wow, I love playing video games and I love making people laugh.’ It was the perfect combination.” Hannafier told ggn00b in an interview. She made her first big jump towards professional content creation when signing with Shattered Dreams Esports earlier in May.

Content creation is just a step along the path that Hannafier is walking down; she eventually would love to be a motivational speaker, traveling to inspire people and get them moving towards their dreams. Even the tag itself “Hannafier” has meaning specific to her willingness to move forward.

“I chose Hannafier because I wanted it to sound like a verb because verbs express action, and in order to do anything in the world, it takes action.” Hannafier explained when it came to settling on a name for her brand.

Hannafier’s logo.

What’s most interesting about Hannafier’s story is the difficulty it took to even get started: apart from moving around the United States dozens of times while she was growing up, she wasn’t allowed to start up a YouTube channel due to her parents being vehemently against it. It took a lot of effort before they finally relented, and even then she wasn’t allowed to use a camera, play certain games such as first-person shooters, and access to the proper tools to make content wasn’t always consistent.

She’s worked a plethora of jobs while never losing sight of the dream, including working at an old folks’ home, as a lifeguard and a virtual reality arcade to name just a few. During her free time, she continued to edit and put up whatever content she could, while also networking and trying to find opportunities to get connected with the media industry.

One such gig came about when a friend was able to connect her with a group that did video editing for events such as weddings and conventions. One such Hannafier worked on was Breast Cancer 2 Bikini, a fitness competition for women who’ve undergone treatment for breast cancer.

The skills Hannafier acquired through YouTube and content creation in general led to opportunities such as the one with Breast Cancer 2 Bikini.

“I would take these 15-minute interviews with these incredible women and had to condense each of them down to a 1-minute video that described their stories and what Breast Cancer 2 Bikini meant to them.” Hannafier said in regards to what she had to do for the event.

“I also had to make a 5-minute video about breast cancer scars; how these women feel about their scars and the conversations around that. They were well-received; the organizer for the event got emotional and hugged me after I screened the videos.”

This rounds out the two sides to Hannafier’s approach to content: on one hand, she aims to have lighthearted and entertaining videos, something that people can turn on when they’ve had a rough day. Calling back to her turbulent upbringing and the lengthy divorce her parents went through, she wants to be that person so that people can forget about their woes if just for a moment.

On the other hand, she’s aimed to make significant change in the gaming industry by calling out things such as toxicity against women.

“I’ve talked with women who want to get into content creation but they always have a story about how they played a game and some guys make the standard jokes: video games aren’t for women, get back in the kitchen, etc.” Hannafier recalls.

“It’s crazy; if you’re a woman and you’re good at a game, people will give you shit because guys don’t want to lose to a girl. If you’re bad at a game, they’ll just be like ‘yeah, that’s expected, you’re a lady.’ Either way, you’re just not welcome.”

Women are known to face intense hostility in online gaming.

One of Hannafier’s more recent videos aimed to highlight how often women deal with toxicity in games by simply showcasing toxic moments caught on stream. Hannafier herself has no qualms calling people out publicly for bad behavior, a trait she reckons came about having to fend for herself while moving so frequently in her childhood.

However, she understands that not everyone can call out toxicity in an aggressive manner, and the most effective way to combat a widespread issue is to show these moments, and show them consistently. Hannafier plans to release more and more videos until the issue is addressed more; then, she plans to lead by example.

“As a female gamer, I’d like to show how good I can be at games, how wholesome I can be with people, how I approach game chat.” Hannafier says in regards to how she’ll approach setting an example for gamers going forward. “I would show that I know how to talk trash/give shit to friends and people I play with, but I always know where the line is drawn.”

“I’d also love to host all-female events to reignite their confidence and unite the female player base together.”

It’ll be a long road for Hannafier to reach the heights of someone like Ellen, but with lots of ambition and a good work ethic, there’s no reason to think she can’t go on to great things.

“Life isn’t short; you just have to do more.”

Be sure to listen to the full interview with Hannafier here.

Be sure to follow Hannafier on Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter!