"You can't always sit in the corner and hope it will go away because that's not how this world works"

27 min read
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Interview with Jessica "JessGOAT" Bolden as part of the Girls Got Game project

You may have read recently about famous Ubisoft caster Jess Bolden quitting streaming Rainbow Six Siege because of community toxicity in the game. We reached out to Jessica to talk about this case and more.

How much hard work is behind the curtains of a caster's duties? How many completely different and amazing activities and professional experiences can be contained in one young life? Jessica “JessGOAT” Bolden  told us about her life path, her vision of Rainbow Six Siege community's current state, and even shared her emotions from the experience of climbing the Himalayas.

Let's start with your background. Please, tell me, how did your interest in games start? How did you come to esports?

I grew up playing a lot of video games on different consoles as my brothers and father were also fond of them. Then, in about 2010 we had a pretty good PC for the time and I became rather addicted to games like Skyrim etc. I think I knew at this time that I would always love video games, no matter what.

I’d play them, and then I'd go sleep, I'd wake up, I'd go to school and come over and play them again, always. And maybe I have to do sports and stuff in between. I would do a lot of sports growing up, but I think that videogames were my favorite thing to do even though I loved sports as well.

When I finished high school, I was quite young. Because I skipped a year of school, and I moved around the world a lot growing up. I went to university at 17 to study criminology. During that time, I had to live by myself because my university was in Melbourne. So, I had to learn to work full time and study full time. Any time off I had, I would play a lot of Call of Duty on the PlayStation 4 I had. 

I think that was 2013-2014. That was the first time that I knew I would probably play first-person shooter games forever. I was convinced I would play FPS games. I probably played most between my first degree, which was three years.

I played for so many hours. I was around prestige Master 806 on Call of Duty, which is huge. And then Black Ops 2 came out. I started to play that competitively right before I went into my interest for Rainbow Six Siege. 

Then I moved to Rainbow Six Siege just a year before my master's degree. I played that competitively. So I think it was just me naturally, whilst I was studying, wanted something to do. I wasn't really much of a partier, and I guess I didn't like to have a lot of friends, so I would like to go home after lots of work and lots of studying and just play video games. And that's what I did. 

Speaking of your degree: why did you choose criminology? 

I think, growing up, I was always pretty sure about what area I wanted to be in: working in crime somewhere. When I started my degree, I thought I would work on the terrorism side of things. But as I sort of got halfway through my degree, I started to specialize in criminal behavior and sex offenses. And then, in my master's degree, I specialized in pedophilia and child sex offenses. 

I always wanted to learn all about crime. I thought it was very interesting. Maybe it was all those crime shows you watch, you know, like NCIS. I don't think I ever wanted to be a police officer. Everyone says, "I want to be a police officer." But I wanted to be like a terrorism spy. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to learn, I want to be an expert at that, but I didn't just want to be a police officer that walked around dealing with low-level crime. 

I finished my bachelor’s degree, and at the same time, I was starting a tuition business because I wanted to make more money, and I was good as a teacher. So, I started my own business and I was teaching other lower-level college students or high school students. And then I went into my master's degree knowing that I probably wanted to become a professor and really actually specialize in my area of criminology.

Does your knowledge of psychology and sociology and experience in teaching help you in any way in your esports career or streaming?

Yeah, when I finished my master's degree, that was pretty much the exact same time. I got offered a professional coaching job with PENTA in Germany, and I didn't expect to get offered the job, and I didn't expect to move there, but I did because I wanted to learn languages and I wanted to be smarter, not just in criminology. I want to be smarter at everything. 

Languages are something we don't necessarily learn in Australia, unfortunately. In Europe, you learn multiple languages, and I wanted to do that. So I thought if I moved there and I have this job... I have a really good background in human psychology. I've got really good leadership. I was in the army part-time during my first degree as well. I did everything I could to be a good leader. 

I was very young when I finished my master's degree. I feel that people looked at me like I still wasn't capable of being a leader, even though I'd done so much in a short time. And so, even though I knew things, I still think some of the young men didn't respect me enough to be able to use my skills properly. 

You commentated CS:GO and then started to comment R6 — why did you decide to change disciplines?

I had done a little bit of R6 before CS:GO, actually, but that was more like I was playing competitive R6 at the time, and they needed someone to just volunteer because no one else could — Australia is so small. I was like, “I mean, sure, I know the game — I can speak, so, why not?”

I didn't actually take that as a serious experience when I probably should have. I don't think I ever thought I would have a career in casting. And then when I started getting offered women's events for CS:GO…. When I moved to Europe to be a coach, I started to realize, "Hang on, this is a lot more serious.” Being a caster is a serious thing in Europe. Whereas in Australia, it's not really, unless you're at the top. And that's when I started being really serious with women's CS:GO.

And that's when I reached out to Ubisoft, and I said, "Well, I know this game better than most talent in your game. There's maybe one or two other people in the world that know the game better than me. So if you put me on your analyst desk, you have someone that has cast another game, has cast Rainbow Six before, is really good at public speaking, and knows the game very well."

And I said, "I think if you put me on the analyst desk, I'll be good." And they let me do that. Even whilst I was a professional coach. So I was getting experience everywhere. I was very lucky, but I like to remind people, even though I was lucky, I also pushed really hard for it. I wanted to learn everything and do everything, even if I was doing something else. I just barely slept. That's all.

Congratulations on your award “ShoutCaster of the Year” from TheGameHers! Can you tell the audience your emotions in the moment when you won and the experience in general?

I am currently looking at the trophy right now. It's right next to my desk. And every time I look at it, I don't think it's real. I think part of me doesn't think it's real because I went from being a player to a professional coach to a professional analyst to a professional caster. That's a lot of jobs for one person to have in a few years. 

I was told in February at Rainbow Six Invitational 2020 that I would be offered a full-time position. And I had three months to get ready for that position. Three months to be able to be a Tier-1 caster. And I worked so hard to be a good caster and to go into the second half of 2020, win an award and then get feedback from Ubisoft that I'm the face of EU. I cried, I'll be honest. Because sometimes you put in a lot of hard work, but you're not there yet. Things take practice. But to know that all that hard work and all those sleepless nights paid off, and I have a trophy to look at to show me... I am out of words, really. 

In your opinion, why would players prefer R6 rather than the more popular CS:GO? 

I think the pros who moved from other games to Rainbow Six Siege the same way I moved from Call of Duty to Rainbow Six Siege... 

I don't want to speak on behalf of the players because I don't know a hundred percent all of their stories, but I know, when it was me, I was a competitive Search and Destroy player in Call of Duty. And so that was a 5v5 plant the bomb, defuse, etc., just like Siege. But what R6 does that CS:GO doesn't is it allows you to beat someone, not based on your gun skill, but because you played the situation smarter. And there is no other first-person shooter in the world where you can beat a pro just because you're smarter than them. I think that that is amazing. Rainbow Six Siege is one of the most complex and strategic FPS games in the world. And I have no doubt that the players who moved games or started with R6 strongly believe that it is one of the hardest shooting games to learn in the world. I truly believe that.

Can you compare VALORANT to these disciplines?

Yes, I like to call VALORANT a CS:GO and Overwatch mixture. There are abilities, gun skills, but also those usual lanes of the map where you plant a bomb, or in this case, a spike, and it's all very similar. The weapons are very similar to CS:GO. That's unlike Overwatch. I think the bit that makes it Overwatch is all of the abilities and stuff like that, which I guess you could say is very similar to Siege. The operators that Siege has would be very similar to the way that there are agents in VALORANT.

I would say VALORANT would be closer to Siege than CS:GO. So if there were some pro players who moved from Siege to VALORANT, I wouldn't be as surprised as if they moved from Siege to CS:GO.

Rainbow Six Siege Invitational was canceled due to the covid situation. What’s your opinion on it?

I truly believed that the Invitational should have been canceled months before they announced they would do it. It wasn't even the Montreal team because the R6 Invitational was always in Montreal every year: it's run by the Montreal office, which is the biggest Ubisoft office in the world. 

They said, “No. It's too unsafe. We can't do it.” While EMEA Paris said, “We'll do it.” And I can't believe that the Paris office in the middle of a pandemic thought that a gaming competition was more important than a pandemic. I think it is one of the most ridiculous decisions that I've ever seen Ubisoft make.

In one of your interviews, you said that R6 changed your life. Can you imagine how your career and life would develop if R6 didn’t exist?

I've never thought about this. I think if R6 didn't give me this entirely new life... Because that's what it did. One month I was in a meeting about being a professional coach, and the next, I was packing to move to Germany; it was very quick. So I think if that didn't happen, I probably would have done my Ph.D. in Australia. And I was teaching at a university in Melbourne at the time when I finished my master's degree. I probably would have continued to do that. I'd have continued to play games competitively for fun on the side, or I would have taken a break after my master's degree and traveled to learn languages anyway. So I think either way, I would have wanted to learn a language: I just don't know if it would have ever meant that I got to live this life now without that lucky day of me applying for that job. 

Let's talk about the situation with toxicity in R6: you noted that people in your country have been behaving in such a bad manner, like stream sniping and harassing you. Do you think that in other countries, there are different types of player behavior in this game? Or are they the same?

I guess I'm lucky in this situation because I've lived in many countries and played R6 in those countries. And I would say when I lived in Europe, maybe because I didn't speak French, but I spoke a little bit of German, it wasn't as bad because I didn't know what they were saying. Maybe, there was a lot of toxicity, but people couldn't understand each other, so it didn't matter.

I think most people will agree if you've ever watched me stream Siege in Australia and you compare it to me streaming Siege in Europe; it is very different. Australian servers are one of the most awful servers to be in, I think, for almost any game. There would probably not be a game where Australia doesn't become top three for toxicity. There is no doubt in my mind. This region is full of people who don't care. I wouldn't say there's very bad parenting, but I would say our culture is very relaxed. And as a result, parents don't necessarily pay attention as much to what their kids are doing, so they can get away with a lot more. And that's sort of how it goes here. That's how it's always been for me from 2014-2015. 

On which servers are there more polite and friendly players that you’ve met?

I think Western Europe servers, which is the one that I think it automatically connects you to if you live in Europe. There's a Northern one as well, but I think that's for the UK and further up North — I've never played on that one. And for the most part, it is very good. Most people are just anxious that you won't understand their call-outs because they're apologizing for their English. And I'll say, “No, that's okay — you say the call-out how you know it, and I'll do my best. Or if you speak a bit of German, I can speak a bit of German with you, and we can try our best.” So I think most people are worried about their English there or they don't talk because they don't understand. And if that's how we avoid toxicity, well, that's a lot better than the Australian server.

Why is the R6 community so biased towards women? For example, in other disciplines, we still can see such behavior, but there are fewer and fewer cases of it. 

Let’s say Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, and LoL communities are more friendly to female players. What’s your opinion on it?

I would say maybe five different VALORANT games I've done this: I've loaded up into the game, and I've said, "I'm so sorry. I'm still learning. I'm sorry if I'm bad." And they go: “Oh, no problem, no problem.” And I'm like, “What? Why are you so nice?”

And then another game before, this guy on my team, I don't think he had a microphone, or he didn't know how to use it, but he kept buying me guns. I really don't know, but I'm playing VALORANT, and I see a side of the gaming community I've not seen in years. I've never seen people this polite, ever. 

I don't know what it is that makes Siege so different. I don't know if it's because they've always gotten away with it, and maybe that's why they feel they can always get away with it or whether the game itself attracts a lot of sexist players, but that doesn't make sense. 

I don't know what the answer is, but whatever it is, me playing VALORANT for three days has shown me that Siege has a really serious problem. An abysmal serious issue with sexism to the point where, after my post on Twitter, I had fifteen women messaging me and told me they quit Siege because of that. That's horrible! Fifteen women who loved Siege but quit because they couldn't put up with toxicity. It is awful. 

Do you feel, as a commentator/analyst and streamer, that you are kinda responsible for the audience and new players’ behavior in the game? They look at talents/streamers, want to be like them, and, sometimes, copy them.

I think probably my biggest example is that I have a moderating team on my Twitch that is very strict. You cannot be a part of my streaming community unless you meet a very strict guideline of behavior. If you break it more than once, you are gone forever. You're just not allowed to be part of the community in my stream. And there's a lot of people that really hate that to the point they'll make multiple Twitch accounts, etc., just trying to be part of it. And we will deny them every time. So at least, in my Twitch chat, we'll make sure that it is the most positive environment. I can make it. And that's all down to my mods. They do an excellent job (shout out to them). 

I also think that when I'm in-game, if I ever hear someone say something to someone or type something to someone, I am the first person to say something. I don't care if they come at me because that's not the point. The point is to show people who are watching my stream that it is never okay to just sit there and let something happen. Maybe I'm just a very brave person, or maybe I've just never cared. But I do not accept that if someone's getting bullied or someone is talking in a really negative way that you should just let it happen. 

So I am trying to set an example. How much I succeed in it and how much that changes people — I don't know. But I would like to think that maybe one in 50 people leave my stream going, "Hey, that was fun. That was positive. She spoke to her teammates really nicely. Maybe I'll try that next time." And one in 50 is not bad. It's better than zero. 

I saw a few highlights from your streams and noticed that you’re very emotional in the process. Are you the same in real life, or is it more entertaining the audience?

When I got into streaming, people loved the Australian who swore. That was one of the big things that people loved. It was entertaining; the accent is funny, supposedly. And so I watched a lot of other Australian streamers to see what it was that people liked about them and what I can give myself. I'm always really enthusiastic and energetic when I play Siege, and I put a lot of emotion into it because I'm very competitive.

But the moment the game ends — that's it. The show's done the moment the stream's over, close the curtains, and I'm done for the day. And then I chill out. I read a book, relax, watch a lot of anime, for example. 

It's not that I'm acting because I'm always me, very passionate. But I would say that people who watch me commentate, and then they come watch my stream; they cannot believe that I'm the same person. Very professional at work, and then I get into a stream, and I'm just crazy Jess. So it's a nice little change that I get to have in both worlds.

Your second camera is aimed at your right hand, where the mouse is. Why is it important to you?

I think there are two big reasons why I do it. One, I think it came out of the feeling that people wouldn't believe it was me sometimes. And I know that sounds silly, but there have been women over the past ten years who have had their partner play for them and use the camera on them and pretended it was them. My fear was that people wouldn't really believe it was me when I make really good shots on Siege, which I do quite often. I have over 5,000 hours in this game. I should be able to do that.

I want people to see the process that it took mechanically to get there. Did I move my mouse to the top of my mouse pad, predicting that I would need to aim down, or did I flip really fast and connect with that player's head, and how does that look in comparison to the gameplay? That's a really interesting dynamic that you get from my cam;  you can see the play and the movement. You can see how sometimes their reflexes move faster than their eyes, which I think is an amazing part of the human body I love. And in fact, when I get to Europe, I'll be adding another camera for my keyboard. I want people to feel that they can see every part of my gameplay because that is the most intense version of FPS playing that you can give an audience.

Let’s discuss the current situation in different countries: for example, R6 is not so popular in the CIS, and some players think it’s because of a lack of Ubisoft’s attention to this region. What’s your opinion on that?

I think that goes for many regions in R6. I would say we are lucky that it grew quickly around the world and that Ubisoft got the major regions involved in the world — North America, Europe, and some of Asia Pacific and Oceania. The Latin American region came quite late to the official esports scene, which is a shame and. They still haven't got the middle East involved, and they still haven't made deals with China. And the game's been out for more than five years. So I think they're lucky that the players kept it alive in North America, Europe, and a couple of other regions for it to stay alive. 

There's no real office in the CIS. In Australia, it has Ubisoft Australia, and that office deals with all of Australia, and it exists, run by its own kind of community. But if the CIS community doesn't get to run that community, it doesn't have its own leaders involved in that community, and decisions for the CIS are made by people in France. Well, of course, people aren't going to care because it's not part of their region. It's not part of their actual community. It's like if I'm in Australia and Asia, Pacific North is making decisions for my country. I’d be like, “What do you know about Australian Rainbow Six Siege?” It's very different to Asia Pacific Siege in how it's played and how the community works, languages, etc. So I think that's a very fair assessment of the CIS players is that if they don't feel supported enough, they are allowed to have that opinion.

Which games besides R6 are also popular in Australia?

League of Legends is pretty popular, as well as CS:GO. They're the major games in the world anyway. I think FIFA is big, too. All of our soccer clubs here have esports players in them. And some of our football clubs have LoL teams in them. 

If I was to go to one of our big esports tournaments or conventions in Melbourne, the biggest games would be Fortnite, CS:GO, and League of Legends. I don't know if Dota 2 is really big here or not. 

You mentioned at the beginning of our interview that "some of the young men didn't respect you enough.” Was this an obstacle in your esports career?

I would say the moment I realized being a woman might hurt me at work was when I came into esports. When I moved to Europe and I joined esports, that was the moment I started to feel sexism is a real thing. I don't think I really felt it before that, but when I entered esports, I definitely felt it.

I have players who I knew were sexists. I had a German player who was a sexist, and I had to be a professional and treat him with respect, even though I knew he didn't treat me with respect back, and he didn't want me to coach him. And I don't know if that was because he thought he was better than everyone, but he certainly had made sexist comments before to other women. I knew deep down. He probably would never respect me just based on the fact that I was a woman, despite all of my skills and achievements. So I became very aware, I've had to protect myself multiple times. 

I would say esports is one of the most dangerous industries for women to be in inside and outside of work.

What can we do to improve this community and stop such behavior?

I think if I use the Rainbow Six Siege competitive community in big regions like North America and Europe, as an example.... What I don't understand is that some of these really big pro players have girlfriends who also stream the game. If you watch their stream, girlfriends are getting harassed by men and sometimes very heavily, sexually harassed by men during the game. How are their boyfriends sitting there, not saying anything? Why do we just have to ignore people? I've never understood this mentality that we should just ignore them because the problem doesn't go away by ignoring them. It just means that they find the next victim or they get worse until you can't ignore them. 

I would love to see some of the big figures of R6, whether it's pro players or big streamers or whatever, stand up and say, "What the F is wrong with you?" rather than just sitting there letting the girlfriend get abused? Because it's normal. That's shocking to me. 

I can never let a friend get abused in a game. And some of these pros, children in their heads, and I know, I've worked with them. They've got baby brains that barely worked for themselves, and they don't understand that they have a very important platform that they need to be using appropriately, but they don't. 

So we won't ever be treated with the respect we deserve until big players with big audiences turn around and do that and show that that's what you need to do, but they don't do that. So there's no example for anyone out there that they need to do that.

You're brave enough to make such statements, but what can you say to girls who don't have that courage to stand up for themselves in games?

That one is a very tough question because part of me believes that right now, in 2021, if you're a woman in gaming or esports, and you don't have a little bit of bravery, you won't survive. 

The reason I think that is because I've experienced that. I have this huge metaphorical armor on, always. Men don't have to wear this heavy armor that I have to wear. And if you're another woman and you can't also wear that armor, I fear that you will get crushed very quickly. 

And the other part of me feels like "do what you want." I've done that my entire life. If I want something, I go and get it. There are no excuses for me. No one gets in my way. If I want to learn something, I learn. If I want to be something, I go do my best to be it.

I want women to look at it that way. The moment you let someone tell you how to live your life is the moment you will let them live your life for you. You aren't living your life. Then you're letting others live your life. And I hate that. So you have to be strong. You can't always sit in the corner and hope it will go away because that's not how this world works. You have to become stronger somehow some way.

You’ve been traveling a lot and managed to live in many countries. Which country do you like the most? 

The country I liked living in the most was Japan. I didn't really get to live in Japan as an adult, but I did during my teenage years because of my father. I would say my stepmother's Japanese, and I've never met a more polite culture than the Japanese culture. It's unbelievable how nice they are, no matter where you go or where I lived in Japan. Everywhere I went, it was about being as nice as you can, as much respect as you can, always. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. You treat everyone with respect and kindness, and there's almost no crime there. Japan was one of my favorites.

Have you ever thought of the place where you want to retire in the future?

I really loved living in Hamburg in Germany. Even though I lived in Berlin, it wasn't really my style, whereas Hamburg was like the perfect mixture of casual, serious, beautiful, and safe. And it was a nice place to live. I lived in Zurich as well, but that's very expensive. I could live there now, I'm lucky to make a good amount of money, but I don't think it's sustainable. So I guess if I had to pick somewhere, probably be Hamburg in Germany.

Have you ever had any problems communicating with foreigners in terms of your work style attitude to some job-related moments? As far as I know, French people are more relaxed than German — is it true or a myth for you?

Yeah, I think the best example I have is not even the French people. I went from working in Germany to working in Italy. And that was the biggest difference in work, culture, and ethic I'd ever seen in my life. German people are quite serious about work and everything and how they talk to each other and then you get to Italy… You get that feeling when you live in Italy, that if they can cut a corner, they will, or if they can ignore something, they will. No one in Italy was as serious about work as I was. They kind of just were so casual and so carefree. I don't think it necessarily matched my style of work, but I liked that when I wasn't working, it was a really cool place to be.

And what about personal attitudes from native people towards you?

I haven't lived in France yet, but my biggest fear is that the common understanding of French people is that if you're a foreigner, you're different, no matter what kind of thing. 

That scares me a lot, not that I'm an extrovert or I go out a lot, so I don't think it's really going to affect me, but I definitely fear that I will always be an outsider in France. But because my work and my studio are there, I have to live there. 

I hope it will continue for many years, of course, and the studio won't move because that's where the main office is. So I have to get used to being treated like a foreigner, even though it will be my home, and that's okay with me because I don't want to call France my home long term. I don't foresee myself staying there. When I want to have a family or I want to settle down, I don't want to be in France to do that.

What other countries do you want or plan to visit?

I've been lucky enough to visit Spain, the UK, Sweden, and so many different countries around Europe. And one area I haven't been to that I really want to go to is the North of Norway because you always want to see the Northern lights one time in your life. I also want to see the coast of Portugal. I haven't been there before, but I hear it's very beautiful. 

You noted in your presentation video that you climbed the Himalayas. Please, tell me about this experience.

It was so difficult. My father is a great man. He’s very intelligent. And when I was 15, I suggested to him that I go on the trip to India for a month. 

You spend ten days climbing a mountain and seven days teaching English or doing some kind of work in the slums and then another week or so traveling. And 15 y.o. me naturally thought I was invincible and the best. I played a lot of state sports growing up, so I must have thought I was very fit at the time or something. 

I said to my dad, “Next year, there's this trip to India. I want to go on it.” And he said, “Well, you better get a job so you can pay for the trip.” And so I did, I went out and got a job, and every paycheck went into savings. I think after a year, I didn't make all the money. So my dad just put in the rest.

I went to the middle of India, and little did I know that I was setting myself up for one of the most difficult culture shocks and physically tough things I've ever done and probably will ever do. The army was also quite difficult, but I got halfway up the Himalayas, and I was willing to do anything to get off. And the only way you can get off is if you break a bone and a helicopter has to come out and get you. So I kept thinking, I'll just like break my ankle or knee or something. 

This whole way up was the hardest thing I've ever done. I remember finally getting to the top after like day eight or whatever it was. And you never forget that view. You never forget how hard it was to get to something most people will never see in their lifetimes. 

I think that day I learned that I'm not a super person. I can't just do whatever I want however, I want. It humbled me a lot to learn that. I always tell people I would never do it again. I would never be fit enough to do that ever again. 

So you aren't planning to repeat this experience?

No. If I can avoid that, that would be really good [laughs].

You're in good physical shape. Are you doing some specific workouts or sports?

When I first joined the army, a couple of my squad members were really into weightlifting. I didn't really like running and stuff. I had to do it with sports growing up and everything like that, but I didn't really enjoy cardio ever. So when they were talking about weights, they started to teach me. I had friends that I went to do army training that were in my squadron who would teach me and go to the gym with me. 

I got so addicted to it so quickly. I was at the gym every day. I had my personalized training program. I used to lift weights very carefully. I used to weigh every bit of my food every day. I didn't eat the same amount of calories, fats, proteins, carbohydrates every day. And I got very fit very quickly from bodybuilding. So I think I've kept a little bit of that muscle over the years, which is kind of nice.

So was it for a certificate of military skills, or it's just your free will?

Just something I liked, I guess. I'm the kind of person that wants to learn everything, and when I happen to also like the thing I'm learning, I'll go 110% of it. And that was one of the things that I was going 110% at because I really liked it. 

It's not that common in our region for women to be in the army and doing such things. So, please, tell me, was it difficult to receive your certificate of military skills from the Australian army, and what should you learn or do to get such a certificate?

My country is young. We're very multicultural and also very progressive. So if there was ever anything sexist, it would be a very big thing in my country. 

There's a lot of women in the army. They're also allowed to be in combat roles now. As long as they can pass the same training as the men do, they were allowed to be part of combat training as well. That only changed in like 2015. It still shows that my country is quite progressive as it can be. And so I've never had a problem with my gender almost anywhere. I've never worried, "Oh, I'm a woman so I can't do this."

Maybe that's why I've never cared about it in esports. Right now, people may say, "Oh, you're a woman in game; get back in the kitchen." But to me, that doesn't mean anything because it's never stopped me from doing everything I want before. The only reason it would stop me was if I stopped myself. 

Maybe that's why people don't like me is because I don't care about their opinion of me this way. I've never really thought about that. We're good in my country. Of course, there were a lot more men training, but I didn't feel alone at any point. 

In your LinkedIn profile, you have an experience listed as an Australian army reservist hardware specialist. Can you tell me more about it?

That one was an opportunity that we're getting in Australia to join part-time. There's one night a week when you go in, and you do your service. And sometimes you have to go in on certain weekends for certain trips away around your state, where you have to do some kind of training, whether it's a building training or a simulation board training, you do that every few weekends. One night a week, you have to show up to do your training as well. 

It was only part-time, but to go into it, to begin with, you have to do a month of training at their base. You have to take off work and study. In my country, we have a law that says you must allow us to do that if we want to. So I took work off for a month at my university holidays, I went and did my training. 

You get to do so much learning. They have their own schools in the army, and I did the IT hardware school to become an information systems technician. And it's crazy the things you learn. 

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

On my stream, people may think I'm really extroverted, but that is just for the camera. I would rather sit at home, watch anime, and have a couple of wines. And that's my idea of a fun night. So no, I'm not that hacker-friendly, who has a lot of friends hanging out with them all the time, even if it seems like that. Streams take it out of me a lot, speaking to so many people in chat and doing so much yet. It's pretty exhausting.

By the way, about the anime, what is your favorite?

I don't have one favorite because I watched so many, but I think my top ones would be My Hero, Hunter X Hunter, Haikyuu!!, Demon Slayer, and maybe Darwin's Game or something. That would be my top.

In one of your recent streams, you’ve mentioned that you started watching the hyped Mandalorian. Did you watch the Star Wars movies, or was it just because everybody talks about this TV show? 

I really didn't like the Star Wars movies going on. And how long ago was it? Maybe it was six or eight months ago everyone was talking about the Mandalorian, and they were like, "This is the best show ever.” And I just said, "I bet that's because you like Star Wars." I wasn't going to watch it because I hate Star Wars; I don't like it. It's not my type of movie or show, so I didn't watch it. And then someone turned around and said, "Just watch the first couple of episodes and decide, it's so much better than the movies. You could just go to try it."

I hate having an opinion on something if I don't try it. I'm one of those people that hates taking elder's opinions. And I watched the first two episodes, and I am so excited to watch more because it is really, really good. 

What other TV shows or movies do you like?

You're going to laugh at me, but I actually don't believe in movies. 

I don't believe that you should be allowed to put a big story into one and a half hours. So I only watch tv-shows if I have to because movies are a bad part of the industry. You miss out on so much character development and stories, and if they made that movie into a tv-show, it would be so much better. You miss out on becoming attached to a character, learning about their background. They skip all that because the movie has got to be fast. And I don't like that. I don't think it's appropriate.

When it comes to TV shows, my favorite is Black Mirror. It was an excellent TV show. I don't think there's ever been a show that has been better than it. I've only been watching anime since COVID, so I can't even remember what I used to watch.

What are your other hobbies besides playing/traveling?

Watching anime is my number one. 

Also, I love finding cafes. I really love breakfast food. I'm addicted to coffee (cappuccino). Every cafe I go to, and I get breakfast with things like hash browns, eggs, avocado, spinach, whatever. I just love traveling and finding brand new cafes to try their coffee and try their breakfast. 

So yeah, if it's not sitting at home watching anime, it's finding good coffee and good breakfast food. 

And I ride motorbikes as well. I love my motorbike. I always forget that. 

As I noticed, some of your hobbies and activities are kind of connected to risk. Are you a risky person?

Well, video games are sort of fake — it's all on a screen. And the only risk is that I don't drink enough water or I don't see enough sunlight [laughs]. 

I've never really thought about it, probably because I want to do everything, whether it's safe or not safe. So I don't think it would matter to me how risky it was as long as I could learn it or do it, but you are right in that every time I get on the motorbike, I get a little bit of an exciting feeling. Maybe there's a part of me.

Can we discuss your tattoos' meanings?

On my left arm were the very first tattoos I got and speaking of risk, I decided my first tattoo would be a sleeve. My first session lasted for seven hours. It was all about Japan because, growing up, I always thought that Japan was the best place in the world. I traveled to a few different countries, but Japan always struck me as like the best country in the world.

I went to a tattoo artist, and I said;

— "Japan's really important to me, and there are a few things about it that I love. Can I get it into a tattoo sleeve on my arm?"

— "Yeah, absolutely. What do you want?"

— "Well, there's my favorite place to snowboard because I really love snowboarding when I'm there."

We got that tattooed on the back in a Japanese lantern. Also, I really like modern geisha women. They're very gorgeous. They're very good at what they do. 

So, we had that and the very first bridge that I walked along, and all of the Japanese clouding and Japanese Lily, and yeah, I just got everything Japanese-related that I could on my left arm.

My right arm is the most recent one that I got when I was in Italy, which unfortunately is not finished yet because I had to leave Italy with the whole COVID thing. So hopefully, I can get it finished when I go back to Europe, but that one of the Himalayas. 

I think out of both tattoos, the Himalayas one is the most important to me because whenever this year has been, I think since I got stuck in Australia, I have never felt more stressed out or tested in my life. And I always looked down to the tattoo, and I'd tell myself if I could climb that stupid mountain, then there is nothing else that is harder than that. It's a very good tattoo to help keep me motivated.

Do you have any additional comments/words/shoutouts?

I think out of everything that I would want to shout out right now in my life; it’s my closest friends, and which have most of them are my moderators on Twitch. I don't think I could have streamed through all the toxicity for as long as I did without them. They gave up sleep. They gave up streaming themselves or playing other games just to be in my chat, to moderate it, to make it the most positive place it could be. And I'm very proud of my community now. But to be honest, I didn't build it. That was my moderators. No one works harder than my moderators. It's a big shout-out to them really for all the hard work they've done to help me build and be the best I can be.

Jess Bolden on social media:

Twitter

Twitch

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