Pokimane is one of the top 10 most-viewed streamers on Twitch.
Pokimane via Twitter
Millions of fans tune in to watch Pokimane stream games like Fortnite and League of Legends on livestreaming platform Twitch. Now, following a deal brokered through Twitch and Pokimane’s representatives at the United Talent Agency, she will stream exclusively on Twitch for years to come.
Pokimane (pronounced “Pokémon”) is the Twitch alias of Imane Anys. Since she began livestreaming gameplay on Twitch in 2013, the 23-year-old internet personality has acquired 3.9 million followers on the platform, making her one of the 10 most popular Twitch streamers overall. The multi-year contract will ensure that Pokimane fans continue to view her streams on Twitch and nowhere else.
2020 has already been an eventful year for Pokimane. She turned down another sponsorship deal allegedly worth $3 million (though Pokimane and her team would not confirm this unofficial number) and donated $50,000 to launch a recurring yearly esports scholarship for UC Irvine: the school’s first ever esports endowment.
Pokimane agreed to an exclusive interview with me for my Forbes blog. The Q&A, conducted over email, can be read below:
Lauren Orsini: With fellow livestreamer Ninja leaving Twitch, there’s been a lot of discussion over which streamer would be next to go. Why are you sticking with Twitch?
Pokimane: I believe Twitch is the place I need to be if I want to be at the forefront of livestreaming. While other platforms are entering the landscape and slowly growing, Twitch is still far ahead in terms of infrastructure and tools. It’s really important for me to be able to recommend the best livestreaming platform to those who watch me or are inspired by what I do, and I want that to be the one I’m actively using.
Orsini: What will this contract renewal mean for your work with Offline TV?
Pokimane: Offline TV is a group of content creators that make videos together, and therefore our personal use of different platforms won’t have any impact on what we do as a group. For example, Disguised Toast made the switch to Facebook Gaming, however, he still participates in our videos, podcasts, and even streams with us occasionally.
Orsini: Do you believe that your work with Offline TV has influenced your solo content? If so, what would you say is your biggest takeaway from the channel?
Pokimane: OTV is such a fun group to be a part of, and I love being able to do things together that any one of us would be nervous about or unable to do on their own. The OTV channel has been such a great opportunity to explore new forms of content, in a fun & light-hearted manner. My biggest takeaway is definitely that it pays off to put yourself out there, and to develop friendships both in and outside of your work life.
Orsini: Can you tell me about the $50,000 you donated to UC Irvine toward a recurring scholarship for students interested in esports? Why do you think it’s important to encourage careers in esports?
Pokimane: This scholarship has been in the works for a long time, and I’m extremely happy all the pieces finally came together. The gaming community has given me so much and this was one of the best ways I could think of to give back in a meaningful manner. While in school, I was juggling engineering courses and trying to maintain my Twitch channel. I was extremely lucky to be able to take a chance on it, pursue it full time, and have it work out. Since I know how difficult it can be to balance a passion for esports and a degree, I want to help those that are trying to do the same thing, especially if they don’t end up in a position that’s as lucrative as streaming. All in all, it’s important for someone in my position to encourage careers in esports because it’s the only way for the industry as a whole to develop and continue to thrive.
Orsini: Between the new scholarship and your four STEM sponsorships, you fund a lot of higher ed opportunities for somebody who has never been shy about discussing your own circumstances as a college dropout. Why is it important to you to sponsor college students?
Pokimane: Although I ended up in a situation where dropping out of college was the right choice for me, it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. In general, higher education can be extremely valuable in so many ways and if not for the degree, then for the other positive habits and characteristics one can develop when pursuing something that requires so much time and dedication. I simply want to help those that are working hard for their future.
Orsini: Your blunt honesty has become something of a trademark. How do you balance your public and private life when a lot of what you do involves sharing your thoughts with viewers?
Pokimane: It’s definitely been a lot of trial and error when it comes to figuring out exactly how much I want to put out to the public. I try to remember that it’s ultimately my prerogative how much I want to share in regards to my private life. My job is to stream and play games to entertain my audience, but with that being said, I want to have a genuine connection with my community as well, and that’s mostly achieved through opening up about what’s going on in my life. However, there’s always a risk when sharing personal information, so I try to be mindful of that.
Orsini: How does it feel to often be referenced in the context of your gender, like when people call you the top female streamer? Do you ever wish you were defined more by your gaming abilities?
Pokimane: I’m never bothered when people reference my gender, as it’s not something I’m ashamed of in any way, but I equally don’t think it’s something I constantly need to focus on. I’m flattered and proud when someone calls me the top female streamer, though I know these sorts of titles can be fleeting. Ultimately, my focus is on being the best version of myself that I can be. As for my gaming abilities, they’re mentioned when it’s relevant, but I also recognize that I’m mostly a personality-based streamer, and there’s plenty of those on Twitch, regardless of gender.
Orsini: Can you tell me about your work-life balance as a streamer? Could you describe a typical day or a typical week?
Pokimane: It’s difficult for any streamer to have a good work-life balance, especially when your office is your bedroom, and your job is also your hobby. I try to keep a regular sleep schedule above all else, waking up around 9am and going to bed around midnight or 1am. I also have a set morning and evening routine that comprises of self-care rituals (meditation, praying, skincare, reading, exercise etc). What I do between these routines can really be anything. A typical day would include starting my stream around noon, ending around 6pm, responding to e-mails or other work, and occasionally shooting some content before or after those hours. My free time is spent playing games just for fun or hanging out with friends.
Orsini: What do you hope your Twitch contract renewal will mean for the future of your career?
Pokimane: I hope I can continue to inspire people to begin streaming on Twitch, as I’m so grateful to be where I am today, and I want others to be able to turn their passions into a livelihood as well. Ultimately, I want to leave a lasting touch on the gaming space by bringing value to this industry and to the everyday lives of my community.