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Team Spark is a group of content creators and “misfits” developing supportive communities in online spaces like Twitch, TikTok and YouTube. While gaming has made huge strides in addressing LGBTQ representation and stories, there’s still much work to be done.
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Under their Twitch handles, Team Spark members speak with In The Know about how esports has helped them find a sense of community.
“Spark, to me, is a community of misfits that are all content creators,” @Kilcannon tells In The Know. “We’re here to celebrate each other’s individual journeys as we each individually go through our trials and tribulations to become our more authentic selves. We’re about having this beautiful community that’s all about supporting each other and really listening and helping each other in those critical moments.”
@Kilcannon founded Team Spark to create a community within Twitch for those who may feel like outsiders online or IRL. For team leader @Synxiec, the gender binary in video games was always an implicit way of excluding nonbinary gamers.
“The whole male or female gender options, things like that. It’s one of those like — I didn’t want to have a revolution, I just wanted to push the ‘on’ button and play the game,” @Synxiec explains.
In order to feel comfortable in the gaming world — or the real world, for that matter — more and more marginalized communities are creating spaces where they can fit in.
“But now, we have to have this whole thing because every time I turn the game on, it’s just like: This person shouldn’t be here, that person shouldn’t be here, that type of person shouldn’t be here or have a voice in the kind of games that we make,” @Synxiec says of the exclusion in the industry.
Team Spark wants gaming to go beyond adding one queer character per story just to check “representation” off a list.
“There are so many different stories to tell. There are so many different perspectives, and there are so many different ways you can incorporate queer characters into your gaming that we don’t yet see. And so we have vast amounts of communities and pieces of our community that don’t get that visibility yet,” @Kilcannon says.
Despite its shortcomings, the gaming community still offers many LGBTQ people an online refuge when there isn’t one in real life. That’s why progress is so crucial.
“I think the thing I love the most about gaming and streaming is the aspect of being able to share something that you love with other people,” Spark member and Twitch partner @Crev tells In The Know.
They added, “It gave me an opportunity to meet people who are just like me because I didn’t have that around. I didn’t have those people I could go next door to and play video games with. So Twitch became kind of the friends’ circle I always wished I had.”
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