PUBG Mobile has been one of the most influential mobile game titles to have ever hit the Google Play Store and the iOS market.
While those who weren’t all that involved with the game might feel like it’s just another battle royale title, to the rest, it is an emotion that runs quite deep.
For Blind Esports’ Kezia “Blind Ziia” Mathew, PUBG Mobile has been one of the biggest aids through some of the most difficult phases of her life. And in a special interaction with Abhishek Mallick of Throneofgadget Esports, Kezia opens up about her early life, how she got into gaming, the toxicity that she faces from the community, and how she tackles them.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Kezia, I don’t think your fans know much about you, outside your YouTube persona of “Blind Ziia”. So can we start our conversation today by having you tell us a bit about yourself, your childhood, and your journey as a streamer and content creator?
Kezia: Hello! My name is Kezia Mathew, but I am known primarily as Ziia by the video games community. And though my roots are in Kerala, I was born and bought up in Qatar, where I also completed my schooling along with my Masters.
I have always been into public speaking from my formative years, and “stage fright” was something very alien to me, as I would never get nervous while talking to people. That was one of the reasons why I was provided with the opportunity of being an RJ here in Qatar, as soon as I finished my schooling. Interacting with people and trying to cheer them up was something that was always in me.
I had been into video games ever since I was a kid, and I remember how addictive some of the games like Mario, Supersonic, and Road Rash got for me. So somewhere between all the hustles of life, video games were one constant that I was never able to let go of.
So when I started my YouTube channel, I did not have a long-term plan in mind, as I was only looking to upload one video, since some of my clan-mates wanted me to be the first female video game streamer from Kerela.
I was excited and nervous at the same time. I had just started PUBG Mobile, and I wasn’t exactly sure of the audience base. Nevertheless, I marched on, and on October 12, 2019, I did my first stream on the title, on which I got an overwhelming response. My first bit of content went really well, and what surprised me was the fact that the community was able to accept me more than I had initially imagined.
However, after uploading two videos, I took an 8-month long break from streaming, as I wanted to focus on the more competitive side of PUBG Mobile. But I soon came back to streaming, where I would capture gameplay on my old iPhone 6 which was quite outdated and was nearing the end of its lifespan.
The ping was also a very big issue for me as I stream for the middle-east, and a constant 200 ms lag is something I had to work around on a daily. This always got frustrating for me as I wasn’t able to properly play the game like others on both the classic and competitive game modes.
But I continued streaming, as I saw myself loving this out of passion and wanted to continue no matter what. Then, my channel eventually started to grow, and then I joined Blind Esports as their streamer and content creator. I soon hit 100k subscribers, and I am proud to state that I am the first female streamer from South India to hit that landmark on PUBG Mobile.
Q. How difficult does it get to maintain the various aspects of your life? How do you strike a balance between the streamer you and the professional you?
Kezia: I work at Qatar’s Government offices for Public Works, and it’s very much a regular 8-hour desk job,
In the beginning, I did not expect that I will have to juggle a lot between my work and then stream, but eventually, it became quite difficult to handle, the stress from work, taking care of my family, and then streaming.
As the pressure piled on, I had to keep reminding myself that streaming is my passion, and that it’s not a task that I need to complete on a daily basis. It’s definitely not something that can negatively affect my mental wellbeing.
If I did not want to stream on a particular day, I never really forced myself to do it. If I stream it will only be because of my passion for it and because I love interacting with people. So, yes, it does get tough from time to time, but the perfect work-personal life balance is something attainable and I do see myself achieving it from time to time.
Q3. The esports community, no matter the region, can get rather toxic from time to time. As a woman in the industry, how often were you on the receiving end of sexist and toxic comments while streaming?
Kezia: When people say things are easy for girls or pass comments like “ She’s a girl, 100k is easy”, to them I would say; trust me it WAS NOT easy.
I think I can speak on behalf of all the girls in the video games industry when I say that the gaming community can get incredibly toxic. Toxic to the point that it can affect you mentally, and you will feel like quitting and thinking that it’s not your platform.
I am often harassed on a daily when I start my stream, and there have been many times when I was on the receiving end of lewd, sexist, and degrading remarks. And I am not even exaggerating when I say that this has been going on on a daily basis.
During the initial days of my channel, even small comments used to hurt me, and there have been multiple occasions when I have actually cried on stream. I know it might sound silly to many, but when you are at the receiving end of all the abusive comments, sometimes it’s a lot to handle.
People who just sit behind their mobiles, with fake IDs, coming and posting a lot of nasty comments, do not realize the amount of damage that they do to the one on the receiving end. Words are powerful, and not once do these people stop to reflect on their actions.
I even had cases filed against such people, as I feel that people should be aware of cyber-bullying laws that prevail in many countries. I always like to tell my female streamers to be vocal, to be powerful, and to react when they want to react, as there is no harm in being angry and letting it out, rather than taking all the abuse in.
My audiences often say “deedi please ignore”; so, yes, at times I do ignore it, but I do not believe in ignoring everything. Sometimes such toxic behavior needs to be punished, and you need to teach them a lesson.
I have also had people targeting my stream even with dislike spams, but my likes have always been higher than the dislikes, so it never bothered me. Even though there can be negativity on my stream, there are 1000s of others who are my well-wishers and give me their complete support.
I can happily state that being a streamer has made me more confident and strong-minded. Hence, at the end of the day, these trollers are just bullies, and whatever they say shouldn’t affect us.
Reaching this mindset can be easier said than done, but I believe anyone can achieve it, as I live by a quote of CR7 which reads, “Your love makes me strong. Your hate makes me unstoppable.”
Q. PUBG Mobile is the title that you have created your YouTube channel around. What about the game attracts you so much that you have invested so much time, hard work, and content around it?
Kezia: I used to play a lot of PC and PlayStation titles before picking up mobile titles. But I soon had to leave everything for my studies, and I never really had the time to play much afterward.
I entered the world of PUBG Mobile when I was going through a very tough stage of my life, and Krafton’s title helped me escape my immediate reality and even allowed me to make some really close friends along the way.
I eventually shifted from a classic player and started focusing more on the competitive aspect of PUBG Mobile. I had a line-up of my own, with some of the best underdogs from the Kerelan mobile esports community.
This game has changed the face of the Indian esports community, by giving the mobile esports scene a significant boom in terms of community participation.
So ever since I started with the game, I have been hustling each day from being a competitive player and streamer, and to realize my passion in bringing more underdogs into the community.
PUBG Mobile has always been an emotion for me.
Q. After PUBG Mobile got banned in India, did you see a noticeable shift in the matchmaking lobby and the skill difference in the ranked ladder?
Kezia: I don’t think I faced many issues with match-making when PUBG Mobile got banned in India, primarily because I am playing on a completely different server.
But from what I have noticed, it is the impact the ban had on many of the stakeholders. Organizations and people who spent money on PUBG Mobile along with a considerable amount of their time were completely devastated and heartbroken
Q. With PUBG: New State on the horizon, what are some of your expectations from the title once it officially launches?
Kezia: As far as I have researched about it, it’s still in its alpha state and only a handful of users in the US have access to it. I even checked out content from other YouTubers, and I must say that PUBG: New State looks pretty exciting. The concept of the new state is completely futuristic, and it takes us to 2050.
Filled with sci-fi gear and supercars, New State looked much more polished with a realistic, dynamic environment when compared to PUBG Global.
Q. How has your time been in Blind Esports? What are some of the expectations that the org has from you as one of its content creators?
Kezia: Being in Blind has been a bittersweet experience for me. When the tag “BLIND” associates with your name, it brings in a lot of pressure because the expectations from you will always be very high.
However, being one of their content creators has really opened up opportunities for me to show my creative side to a wider audience. The org grants us full freedom of our content, and though like most orgs Blind might expect us to deliver more and keep entertaining our audience, they get us better brand deals and opportunities so that we can flourish and our hard work finally pays off.
Blind treats us more like their family rather than just content creators and expects us to be with them in all phases of their growth.
Q. With Blind Esports going into a partnership with leading stock and crypto trading platform IQ Option, what are some of your opinions on the merger, and the opportunities that it brings to the table for both parties?
Kezia: These types of partnerships give both the org and the content creators under them to get more exposure in fields outside esports.
With more brands coming in, the value of the org and creators rises and I guess the inclusion of brands in esports will create a big boost for gaming.
Q. What’s the future like for Blind Ziia? What can fan expert from the channel in the coming months?
Kezia: The future is full of new opportunities for me. I am currently working on building my game room and a PC so that I can start creating content for other games as well.
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