Danielle, who goes by The FooYa in the gaming community, is a professional gamer from Edmonton, Canada who recently moved to Atlanta, USA into the Team Kaliber house with seven other online entertainers. Editor-in-Chief Amanda Van Slyke interviewed Danielle over email to discuss what it’s like to be a professional gamer, how she got into the profession and what advice she’d give others who are interested in taking a similar career path.
*Before our interview, Danielle pointed out that the term “professional gamer” often gets mixed up with someone who competes professionally on video games, whereas The FooYa has made a career out of entertaining people through playing video games on Twitch.
Amanda: You got into video games when you started playing Call of Duty at age 14. When did you start to see the possibility of doing this professionally?
Danielle: After playing so much, my friend online told me about MLG (Major League Gaming) and said there was a girls team that was holding try outs. When I made Team FeaR’s – a professional girls team – that’s when I really considered playing professionally. After the exposure of being on a professional team, my social media started to grow and I stopped competing in call of duty and started to make content. Just last year is when I realized I’ve made a career out of playing video games.
A: For people who aren’t familiar with the industry, take us through what it means to be a professional gamer and what that involves.
D: What I personally do, every day, is live-stream on Twitch, broadcasting a variety of games and being an online entertainer. If people enjoy the content I put out they can start to tip me or subscribe on twitch which costs $5.00 and reoccurs every month. I receive 50% of each $5.00 which adds up and has become a salary for me.
A: What kinds of things do you like to do for fun aside from playing video games?
D: Ironically enough when i’m not playing video games… I’m playing video games. Which is why I think I’ve been so successful because I have a true passion for them – specifically FPS (first person shooter) ones.
A: Can we get real about sexism in the video game community for a moment? What kinds of things do you and other females deal with and how can they combat it?
D: Sexism is more than a problem in the gaming community – sometimes its the 1950’s all over again. There has been movements towards equality such as video game producers putting in females as characters in games, but as a woman in a community filled with men I’ve always been harassed, insulted and told to “go to the kitchen.” Some men don’t even know how sexist they are when they insult me or another female for playing a video game.
The best ways for females to combat sexism in this community is by sticking together. It’s quite beautiful how strangers are brought together online to help one another. Another very affective way is to just play better – nothing makes a guy more mad then being better at a game we ‘shouldn’t be playing’ than he is.
A: Congrats on getting your visa and moving into a professional gamer house in Atlanta! Can you talk more about that process and how it’ll help you move up in your career?
D: Getting my visa and moving to the U.S is the biggest thing gaming has done for me. It’s crazy, I thought I was wasting my time and it would go nowhere – now I’m living in a mansion with all my friends, doing what I love. Moving has also opened so many doors for my career in this community to grow even more, whether its going to events which are more accessible being in the states, or collaborations with my roommates who are YouTubers as well.
A: You’ve said in previous YouTube videos that you plan to go to university for your bachelor in biology science. Is this still something you’re planning on doing, or have you switched gears?
D: Although biology is a huge interest of mine, that isn’t my main focus anymore. I was very interested in going to secondary school to expand my knowledge and possibly get a degree – my only problem was not knowing what going to do with my life. I’m only 21 – how can I possibly decide what I want to do for the rest of my life? With time my interests will change, and when I know what I’m truly passionate about I will definitely be attending university in the future.
A: What advice would you give other females who are thinking about pursuing a career as a professional gamer?
D: Advice I would give to other females trying to pursue a career in this community is don’t get discouraged. With hard work and being yourself anything is possible. Being a female doesn’t shut any doors in the gaming community – if anything it opens them. Everyone loves video games, whether its competing or playing alone, so there’s no need to think you aren’t good enough to do what you love.
Follow Danielle on Twitter @iFooya
Read the rest of the summer 2017 issue and order it in print here.