Seasoned gamer and content creator Austreah Garnes, who goes by the alias Ms. Pinky 313, is proof that influencers do not always need more than 10,000 followers to have a viable reach and cultivate supportive relationships with other content creators.
She specializes in gaming content creation.
“I do live streams of my gameplay on Facebook Gaming daily. I create gaming videos of clips, funny reactions, and tips and tricks, I create TikTok videos of my gaming clips and trending challenges. I just recently went viral for my ‘Loot Goblin’ video on there. I also do reviews and unboxings for games, tech, lifestyle, and beauty!” she told VoyageMichigan.
“Black women are among the least represented demographic in the $135 billion global gaming industry. They suffer from a double disadvantage — of race and gender,” OZY reported. In 2019, only 1 percent of gaming industry professionals identify as African or African American, according to the International Game Developers Association. And women of any race account for only 27 percent.
Garnes has an estimated 30,000 combined followers on platforms such as Twitch, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook, categorizing her as a micro influencer to brands. Yet, Garnes does not allow this to stop her influence as she uses her skills and knowledge base to build connections with other Black gamers and content creators.
“When I first started on Twitch, there weren’t a lot of Black content creators on the platform, so you had to dig around and search for them because they weren’t showing up on the front page,” Garnes told MSN.com. “Once I found other Black content creators on the platform, my mentality was to grow together so that more Black creators could be discovered.”
In particular, Garnes developed relationships with other Black women gamers who feel like outsiders in the gaming industry. White men are the largest earners in the gaming industry with Tyler Blevins and Felix Kjellberg topping the list. And even within the game development sector, only 6 percent of all game developers are Black, according to Zippia–revealing the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the industry.
“Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of Black women in the gaming space, and if there were Black women gamers, they were hidden from us,” Garnes told DailyDot. “Because of this, I make sure that I’m loud and proud when I tell people I’m a gamer.”
She faced her own challenges.
“I have had some struggles. One of them is being denied partnership with Twitch, another one is finding the right gaming organization to collaborate and work with,” she told VoyageMichigan.
But I believe my biggest obstacle right now is visibility. Still, to this day, not a lot of Black women in gaming are being seen in the gaming industry, but all of that is about to change!”
Humble Gaming Beginnings
In the early 1990s Garnes was given the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was by playing one of her favorite games, Super Mario World that solidified Garnes’ love of gaming.
This hobby led to Garnes pursuing television and radio production at Specs Howard School of Media Arts. And by 2015, Garnes was connecting with other gamers on Twitch. Garnes broadcasted her favorite video games and streaming other passions such as cooking, podcasting and crocheting.
Building The Influence
As a micro influencer, Garnes growing success is not only a result of the content she creates. It is also Garnes’ willingness to seek out partnerships by pitching companies. Her efforts have led to several brand partnerships including Pandora, H&M, and White Castle. In addition, Garnes worked with organizations such as Starlight Children’s Foundation and the F Cancer Foundation.
Garnes finds inspiration in other Black content creators such as Kev On Stage, who slowly built a thriving media company as a result of his content strategy and social media following.
“Seeing how Kev On Stage has gone from working for other brands to creating his own streaming service and studio has been dope to see,” she told Daily Dot. “This gives me confidence that I can do it too. We’re around the same age and are both married with two kids. His wife is in business with him, and my husband is in business with me. There are so many similarities, but seeing his story lets me know I’m on the right path.”