A Better Look At The Female Gamers Landscape With Streamer Yasmine Abo El-Fotoh

Video Games are a huge part of the entertainment business, and while the world of gaming has exploded in the past decade with a lot of streamers from all over the globe, the MENA region is catching up.

We talked with Yasmine Abo El-Fotoh famously known as “Yasmine O” in the gaming community, who is a gamer, streamer, and radio presenter, she gave us an insight into the gaming community from an Arab female gamer’s perspective, her introduction to gaming, and her journey as a streamer.

Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication, she later got an internship opportunity at the Nile Radio Company. Initially, she was aiming to gain experience working in the radio industry, and maybe, if she showed enough potential, only then, she could get the opportunity to join the presenter’s crew and get a seat at their table.

One day she was given the opportunity to host her own radio show, her manager suggested something related to movies and gossip, but Abo El-Fotoh didn’t really have a certain idea in mind, at the time. When asked what her interests were, Abo El-Fotoh hesitantly took a long shot and answered “gaming,” something clicked, and little did she know she would get the start she needed.

In 2018, the station presented her with the opportunity to host the morning show and a weekly gaming show, “Multi wla Single.” Talking about gaming news and technology was her niche, offering a unique perspective that wasn’t prevalent at the time, she would go on to work on other shows learning more, and is currently hosting “Hits by Hits.”

This learning experience helped her create her persona and presence in the gaming streaming world, offering a commanding voice with a relatable personality.

How did you get into gaming and when did you fall in love with it?

I believe it started like everyone else who is into gaming. My brother got the Super Nintendo when I was five. He constantly enjoyed spending time practicing his fighting skills on the iconic “Street Fighter” and the legendary “Mortal Kombat” against me before daring to compete with his friends. I was definitely less of a challenge compared to the games’ AI, so I don’t even know what he was thinking.

However, like any younger sibling, that pushed me to get better, but when that goal failed miserably, I switched to playing casual Nintendo games like “Donkey Kong,” “The Lion King,” and “Super Mario.” Then came the PlayStation, followed by PlayStation 2, and the rest is history. So, you can say, It was love at first sight.

Consoles or PC and why?

I was introduced to the “Master Race,” also known as PCs, not long ago, and even though I’ve always been a console player, it drew me to it. Both formats can serve the same purpose, gaming. 

As for the rest of the comparisons, it comes according to your personal preferences. Other factors in play here are how technical you can be when it comes to performance, preferring a publisher’s game exclusives over the other’s, or even budget restrictions. All those factors nudge you inevitably to your final choice. I guess if it were up to everyone, including myself, we would own and collect all the latest gaming consoles and PCs that we could lay our hands on. One can only dream.

Why streaming?

One word: inclusiveness. It’s a world I belong to in every shape and form, not to mention that it’s the epitome of gaming communities and meeting people who share similar interests.

It’s the perfect space for any gamer to connect, interact and share the passion that is gaming. There’s nothing else like it.

What defines you as a gamer?

The short answer would be, “Because I like games!”

The long version wouldn’t have a definite answer because it’s relative to each individual. It’s like asking me what defines me as a human. Imagine asking an actress or a sports player what defines them. You can’t have one answer indefinitely as we all experience life differently and get shaped, influenced, and molded by it.

Personally, I think defining it destroys the idea of inclusiveness.  

Tell me more about your gaming and streaming rig

So, I started streaming with the PS4 for a whole year, then upgraded to a PC to have more game variety, storage capacity, and better frames per second (FPS) apart from the device’s performance since I stream and game on the same rig.

My stream setup consists of a dynamic mic, sound capture card, vlogging camera, controller, and live streaming software, and that’s as far as I’ll go.

What is it like being a female streamer and an Arab one at that?

It’s not in anyone’s best advantage, be it men or women, to belong to the minority within a certain industry because, again, it destroys the idea of inclusiveness.

At first, I felt that I was one of a few female streamers/gamers, but it took me by surprise to find more fellow female Arab gamers/streamers out there, and the idea comforted me a lot. It was really wholesome.

How has streaming affected your life?

For the most part, it affected me positively.

I game on camera as I game off camera. I become more in my element than in any other situation. Likewise, I started streaming with no ambitions other than to have a good time, gaming with friends, and have people to share those moments with.

What is your streaming schedule like?

Honestly, very bad. I can’t stick to a fixed schedule due to my full-time work schedule at the radio, and well, there’s also the procrastination element.

Are there games you play but don’t stream? Why?

For all the 30+ hour games, which I call “long commitment games,” I prefer to venture solo because I can’t do it justice on a stream due to all of the interactivity. 

Streaming those games would take away the experience, so I prefer to fully focus on the main narrative and side quests so I can do it justice.

What was the weirdest interaction/moment you went through while streaming?

Too many to count! To be honest, in most of the streams, you’ll find weird comments that appear randomly on the chat. 

Off the top of my head, there was this story when one of the new chatters decided to be toxic and trash-talk, I found myself immediately switching my role from a streamer to a life coach and found myself telling them, that if they were having a bad day, they could just say so, and that the community and myself are more than happy to help. They later came on with a new account and bonded with the chat very well. Later, they confronted me and told me that they were a user. The bottom line, it’s all about sticking to inclusiveness and not retaliating with hate speech.

How big do you think the female gamers community is? How supportive are they?

Huge. It’s a bigger community than anyone thinks, especially for outsiders who don’t expect it to be. It’s at least more than I ever thought or acknowledged at first. I believe 80% of the female streamers I’ve encountered showed their full support, each in their own way.

In your opinion, how did that community evolve during your years of streaming?

During my years of streaming, it’s evolved quite a lot. For the most part, I think it’s because I’ve started to introduce different games to the stream. But in reality, it’s not just the community that evolves but individuals as well, not to mention the support from fellow streamers that definitely played a role in the process.

When it comes to female streamers, there has been a noticeable increase in the past couple of years. When I first started there were very few female streamers out there, but now I meet a lot of them from all over the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

They don’t necessarily also need to be streamers, there are a lot of female gamers who just enjoy the gaming aspect of it, while others look for ways to get into the industry.

How did it feel jumping into the gaming world as an Arab Female streamer/gamer? and did you ever get pushback from the gaming community?

I didn’t have a particular feeling or concern, and since I’m curious by nature, love diving into the unknown, and discovering things, it excited me more than anything, so I took it as an adventure.

On the contrary, so far, I’ve witnessed nothing but unconditional support from the gaming community. Whether from individuals or organizations.

You’ve MCed/hosted a gaming event recently, what was it like and did it feel representing female gamers during it?

It was overwhelming, exciting, and definitely different from anything I’d previously experienced. 

As my first step in the esports scene, particularly as a host, I’ve received quite the support from not just the team associated with the project but everyone I know and don’t know. 

Being a part of the event, I didn’t go in having the mindset that I’m representing anyone other than myself. It’s a double-edged sword to have this outlook because, in whichever way things might turn out, good or bad, it should be on one person, not a group.

In other words, you can never please everyone, so it’s best to let people vouch for you rather than seek it voluntarily.

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You’ve also recently walked the floor in a few gaming conventions here in Egypt, did you ever get recognized? What was that experience like?

I have been recognized a few times. It was surreal, especially when you meet people that have been part of your community for the longest time. It is legit the most wholesome feeling you’ll ever have. 

However, being recognized because of being a part of the gaming space in the Arab world is, if I may explain it better with an Egyptian proverb, “oda w Sala,” (oda w salam, bedroom and living room” in Arabic, an Egyptian proverb that means that it’s a small community). Everyone knows everyone, which is lovely.

Via Yasmine Abo El-Fotoh

What’s your favorite game to stream? 

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” “Warzone,” any indie games chilling on Steam or, as I’d like to call them, “hidden gems.”

What’s your favorite game to play?

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Sorry too generic, I know. I used to play a lot of “Battlefield” in the past, but I switched to the other one recently, and I haven’t looked back since. 

How has your family reacted to your streaming?

At first, they didn’t know what it was, so I tried to walk them through it and gave them an idea by showing them videos. I failed but they grew to learn more about it as I started streaming, not only did they understand it more but also supported me in a way I never imagined. They sometimes open the door into my room when I’m streaming live and would pop in the chat and mingle with the community.

So the answer is yes, they were pretty supportive, however, they’re no exception from Arab families in general because I entered the streaming realm after graduating and securing a stable job. This wouldn’t have been the case if I was still studying.

What’s your most anticipated game?

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” and “The Outlast Trials.”

Do you have any regrets or things you would go back and change during your journey?

Not one bit. I cherish all my journeys with all their ups and downs. Perfections go on par with imperfections in my narrative.

Is there a certain streamer that you look up to? Why?

If I told you that I admire all of them, you probably wouldn’t believe me. I don’t believe that everyone has the full package, they all have something special and unique that drew me to them in the first place. The list is long; if I mentioned some of them I wouldn’t do the rest justice.

Do you have any plans for the future?

For starters, be better with my schedule and time management. 

Planning makes the element of surprise less effective. I’d rather keep the vague aspect of it and happily go with whatever the future has in store for me. 

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