A popular US gamer has been widely criticised for excluding female streamers from his channel, claiming it leads to “clickbait”.
In an interview with video game website Polygon, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins said: “I don’t play with female gamers.”
The 27-year-old, who was the first gamer to reach 10 million followers on live streaming platform Twitch, has an average of more than 80,000 viewers per stream.
He justified his decision to only play with male gamers by saying: “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 married fellow Twitch gamer Jessica “JGhosty” Blevins last year, with the couple recently celebrating their one-year anniversary. She is also his manager.
He said his decision was not due to any pressure from his wife, saying: “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’.”
Ninja concluded: “The only way to avoid [the rumours] is to not play with them at all,” insisting female gamers wouldn’t be upset and it was “a respect thing”.
He has since responded to the negative criticism his comments have received.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “While I understand some people have implied my views mean I have something against playing with women, I want to make clear the issue I’m addressing is online harassment, and my attempt to minimize it from our life.”
Ninja said he felt the need to highlight the issue because he said it “affects all streamers, especially ones that make their relationships public” and that his “comments should not be characterized as anything beyond that.”
Female gamers on Twitch have previously highlighted harassment and trolling they have received – predominantly about their appearance – while on the platform.
A derogatory term – “Twitch thot” – which has been used to describe female streamers on the site is defined by Urban Dictionary as “someone who streams on twitch, normally a female, who uses her body for personal gain”.