UPDATE: Ninja has defended his decision in response to the backlash.
Popular Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins believes he has a good reason for his policy that excludes women players from his livestreams of Fortnite. Blevins explains inviting women to play with him leads to gossip, something he wishes to avoid.
Blevins is one of Twitch's most prominent streamers and is particularly popular with Fortnite fans. He often hosts Fortnite Battle Royale livestreams. He is also one of the most recognizable Twitch streamers, with more than 100,000 subscribers. When Blevins livestreamed a play session with actor and rapper Drake, he had more than 600,000 concurrent viewers for that play session.
Blevins is very picky about who he plays Fortnite with, though. He refuses to let women play on his livestreams, meaning he chooses to discriminate against female players. Blevins explained to Polygon, though, why he feels this is necessary. Being so famous makes him a target for gossip and rumors, the kind that happens when playing video games with members of the opposite sex. As a married man, he feels he has a responsibility to protect himself from the potential backlash that comes from gossip.
“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."
It's no secret the Internet will start posting rumors about players on Twitch livestreams who seem to flirt casually with each other, even if the flirting is innocuous. The Internet is full of gossip and rumors, and anyone who makes a name for themselves on an Internet platform should know this comes with the territory. When it comes to video games, women often get particularly harsh treatment, with harassment and sexism often rearing their ugly heads. It's interesting that Blevins wants to protect himself from this kind of harassment when the women players he excludes from his livestreams probably receive much worse attention.
The general response of women regarding Blevins' reasoning asserts he is only making matters worse. International Game Developers Association Executive Director Jen MacLean took to Twitter to explain how Blevins is making himself part of the problem:
MacLean makes a very valid point. The kind of harassment Blevins seeks to avoid is what women on Twitch deal with on a regular basis. His discrimination against allowing female players on his livestreams only places the blame on women. If Blevins is worried about speculation, he should trust his wife would know better, as well as trust himself not to act in a way that would lead to these kinds of rumors in the first place. If all else fails, he can do what other Twitch streamers do: Ignore the gossip.