Dragging streamers out from their respective dens and into the real-life limelight is a somewhat thankless job. Still, content creator and consummate event planner QTCinderella has made a name for herself doing just that.
Last weekend, she put on one of the largest streamer-run events in content creation, The Streamer Awards, in partnership with Twitch. The award show, which hosted over 300 top streamers and garnered over 1.6 million unique viewers, according to a statistic provided to Polygon by Twitch, had its second annual run on Saturday. After the event, QTCinderella sat down with Polygon via video chat to talk about how she created the “Avengers” of content-creation events, and what it was like to plan an award show to celebrate streaming — even after she had to deal with being at the center of a deepfake porn scandal, where her likeness was used in explicit content without her consent.
Ever since she was a child, QTCinderella had always had a love of planning events. “I had an Alice in Wonderland murder-mystery party for my 16th birthday. No one showed up, so it’s surreal to see 300 people show up now. But I really love bringing people together. My mom was the same way,” she said.
She told Polygon she didn’t realize how her interest in events could apply to streaming until she attended another event, ShitCon, organized by friend and streamer Malena. “It was one stream with a group of us and we just played games. That was it. And from that, I realized how you can apply event planning to this industry specifically.” From there, QTCinderella asked her friend if she herself could plan a similar camping event in Los Angeles, which became one of her first main streamer productions, Shitcamp. That event took place in 2021, and from there, she continued to develop Shitcamp and other events, like Christmas Concerts and Master Baker.
“My experience in event planning just went wild. And I found my niche. I found what I care about; I love bringing people together. I love it when people say that my group streams are kind of like the Avengers. Like you finally see Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in the same room and you’re like, Oh my god.”
Since then, she’s been filling an important role in content creation: planning events. While it might be easier to focus on flashy stunts or marathon-long streams to rack up subscribers, the kind of work QTCinderella does is slightly more behind the scenes, but she’s no less indefatigable. She noticed that current video games and esports award shows lacked a robust set of streamer-specific categories. So she wanted to make something to fill that void.
For The Streamer Awards, she didn’t hire a production company. She said that planning an event like The Streamer Awards requires a lot of industry knowledge. She started it by herself, but also named Geoff Keighley, the creator of The Game Awards, as being an important mentor throughout the process.
“It’s really been cool because you would think sometimes people get too competitive, especially in this industry,” QTCinderella said. “He could have gone one route and just ignored me, but no, he reached out. He was like, ‘Let me know if you need help.’ And I was like, ‘Thank god, I do.’ And he’s been so helpful.”
Still, even with support, the event came with a unique challenge: organizing streamers in one physical location.
“I don’t think people realize every single person that you saw in a seat had a personal message from me, not only an invite, their RSVP, their plus-one details, their dietary restrictions, their seating assignment, their arrival time, their after-party information, their dress code information,” she said. “All of this stuff has to be communicated to 300-plus people and I am literally the one doing that.”
Her work not only highlights the work of streamers, but also brings streamers together. A lot of streamers work from their bedrooms, and often beef will crop up as most communication gets filtered through screens. It’s easy to get swept up in gossip. The award show gives streamers the opportunity to get together and connect over a shared profession.
“I genuinely believe that, you know, the facade of an award show, underneath it is a connection between humans. And that’s what’s so much more important than anything else — than any frog trophy — is getting these people together and having a family reunion once a year.”
Being a content creator brings its own set of challenges. Streamers on YouTube and Twitch must grind, and adapt to an ever-changing internet landscape, to get viewers and find the next “meta,” a phrase used to describe a popular game or trendy way to stream for a certain time. Major streamers, like Pokimane, have decided to stream less as a result. On top of that, personal drama can fuel further speculation and commentary from other streamers. Given the issues with the industry, Polygon asked QTCinderella if she has any concerns with celebrating it.
“I understand the concept of, Wow, we’re celebrating, you know, millionaires. Not only that, but we’re celebrating toxic millionaires,” she said. “I think it’s wildly misunderstood. Essentially, I think people think ‘gaming’ and they think ‘toxic,’ but you don’t know these people. Just because you see tyler1 yell at someone in a video game, he’s not a bad person. He’s actually really fucking kind. He’s very sweet. And so I think it helps battle those misconceptions of some of these people. You know, everyone has a facade. We’re all entertainers.”
QTCinderella knows firsthand what it’s like to be embroiled in controversy. In late January, streamer and colleague Atrioc inadvertently showed some of his open browser tabs during a livestream. One of these tabs was a website that sells AI-generated deepfake porn of other streamers. She was one of the streamers whose image appeared among these deepfakes, and in the following weeks she had to endure online harassment as those images circulated.
At the time, QTCinderella went live on stream and talked about the emotional impact of the event. “Fuck the fucking internet. Fuck the constant exploitation and objectification of women,” she said. Polygon asked her about how, and if, the incident impacted planning The Streamer Awards.
“I think any woman in the industry can attest that it is just an upward battle, you are always swimming upstream, and you can either give up or keep swimming. It is exhausting. But I’m a fighter. And I’m going to stick around. I’ve started making jokes about it. That’s something that I do when I am out of control of something that’s horrible that’s happened to me,” she said. “My intro to the award show was a joke about AI porn. The reason being is because if you make a joke about it, then you have control over it, right? Now I have control over how people perceive me. I am a victim here, but I’m not going to let that define me.’”
As for her own aspirations for the show and its future, QTCinderella doesn’t have something as formal as the Oscars in mind.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be polished enough to be at [the level of] the Oscars,” she said. “But maybe we’re the MTV Music Video Awards or something like that. Like, I will never be that polished, because that’s not who streamers are. I do want to represent streamers and we will be scuffed.”