Amber Wadham didn’t have much growing up, but what she did have was a used Nintendo 64.
From a young age, she would flop in front of the television with her brother and play “religious” games.
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The Adelaide local’s passion for gaming continued as she got older – but she never intended to make it a career.
“I really wanted to get into medicine at some point,” the 26-year-old told 7Life.
“I wanted to go to university, study medicine.”
But after 12th year, Wadham was exhausted from his studies and decided to take a year off and work in a variety of roles.
She quit her job when she was 20 after going through a difficult time.
“A friend of mine said, ‘Well, what are you going to do next?'” Wadham recalls.
“I said, ‘There’s this thing called Twitch, maybe I’ll take a look’.”
Twitch is a video live streaming platform that allows gamers to play in front of an online audience.
It was here that Wadham honed her passion.
Growing fan base
For six months, she curled up on a beanbag in her living room and concentrated on her laptop.
“I went into it with a very specific goal,” she says.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to do this for six months and if it’s not going anywhere, then I’ll move on to something else’.”
Luckily for Wadham, she quickly built a following.
And within a month and a half of streaming, she already had 60 people “coming back every day” to watch her game.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but it’s enough to fill a movie theater,” she says.
“From there I knew this was something I had to put my heart and soul into to see where it took me.”
Today Wadham sits in front of a setup with two monitors and two computers.
She has amassed more than 110,000 followers on Twitch and 50,000 on Instagram.
“It’s part of my everyday life now, it’s incredible,” she says.
“Everything gets so serious when you reach a certain age, and that gives you a certain level of giggly escapism.
“I can role-play and be a wizard or be an armored person running through a desert wasteland.”
Incredibly, she now earns six figures, allowing for luxuries like being able to take her family on vacation.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do things for my family that I never thought I could do,” she says.
“We didn’t even have electricity growing up as kids, (and now) I could tell my mom she’ll never have to rent again.
“I was able to do this because of my love of gaming.”
While this is Wadham’s dream job, there’s also a hideous side to gaming.
Discrimination on the Internet
Despite 46 per cent of Australia’s gaming population being women, the industry still faces a problem of gender abuse and discrimination.
Wadham says she’s “always experienced some level of sexism in this industry.”
Even before it became her career, she took steps to shield herself and her friends.
Her “girl group” hid their names and avoided using the voice chat feature when playing multiplayer games with people around the world.
“I remember the day we looked forward to communicating and using communication (voice chat),” she says, recalling a time when she and her friends were playing a multiplayer game online have.
They were ‘sworn at’ by boys and men who told them to ‘take that shit off’ and were told it was ‘boys only’.
“[It]was so ingrained in misogyny,” says Wadham.
“They don’t even realize how harmful or toxic that can be.”
She says men of all ages, young and old, participate in online discrimination.
“The stuff from the younger[boys]tends to have more shock value,” she says.
“The stuff I’ve experienced from grown adults is a lot more heinous.
“It could be quite harmful to some people.”
Wadham has stayed strong in the face of hateful comments.
“(I) do not tolerate abuse or discrimination of any kind,” she says.
“I tell someone, ‘I will not tolerate this, if you speak to me like that, there will be consequences’.”
get too much
Wadham is concerned for others who face this discrimination.
“I don’t think a lot of women, or even a lot of non-binary people, could be sitting there every day and being verbally abused,” she says.
The gamer says she’s seen many friends quit their gaming careers in a matter of months because of “toxic misogynist behavior.”
“They just can’t handle it anymore or don’t have the same access to tools anymore,” she says.
A moment is considered one of the worst Wadham has experienced.
On her first trip to America to perform at a gaming event, she had to tell the organizers that someone threatened her life.
“It all started with one person jokingly saying they wanted to be my friend,” she says.
“They said, ‘You’re a woman and you play video games, you’re perfect,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not interested.’
“I didn’t have a bar of it.”
change of industry
Wadham says big changes are happening in the industry.
“There are so many men in the industry doing what they should – standing up for what’s right and making it a much safer space for everyone,” she says.
Today, Wadham faces less discrimination but says the industry is always fickle.
“I’ve curated a really good community that always has my back,” she says.
“(By) using tools that already exist, I’ve been able to make my workplace a lot safer.”
Amber Wadham spoke to 7Life about her experience working with Maybelline New York Australia’s Through Their Eyes campaign.
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https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/aussie-gamer-who-makes-six-figure-salary-tells-of-her-incredible-success-and-most-vile-experience-c-9855265 Australian player, who earns a six-figure salary, opens up about her ‘amazing’ success and ‘most disgusting’ experience