Who is Freya Fox?
Janelle "Freya Fox" Kao, a full-time video game streamer, musician, and reputation management expert talked with us about her rags to riches story, fighting games, internet fame, and being a gamer. Freya's experience is one of many, but it offers an inside look at the struggles and perks of being a prominent woman in gaming and Esports in 2020.
As COVID-19 has ensued in a spike in online gaming and compelled the revocation of thousands of events across the globe, there is one population that has thrived online since the dawn of the internet. The gaming community has gathered online whether to play games together, communicate in the game via Ventrilo, or share tips and news in online forums.
This week we caught up with Janelle "Freya Fox" Kao, to have a word with her. Check her out:
Becoming a Twitch Streamer While Working on Her Marketing Agency
Freya Fox said she got her start by streaming first-person shooter games on Twitch in 2014, while she was running her inbound marketing agency. Fox said it was an outlet to express herself while doing what she always loved.
"I've been playing games my entire life, so I decided to start streaming on Twitch and create content on YouTube, People kept telling me I should stream, so eventually I just started and it was really fun. At the time influencers were barely a thing and I had no idea what the potential would be. I just wanted to have fun and show my friends my gameplay".
Now, she's been streaming full-time for two years, and has made enough money through sponsorships, fan donations, and consulting influencers on their branding via her reputation management agency called Clout Forge, all while keeping the lights on while living between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Taipei, Taiwan.
Kao says her audience has also varied internationally since she came to be a gaming partner with Facebook Gaming in 2018 as one of the first waves of Facebook Gaming partners. Kao has since left Facebook Gaming due to what she called "internal mismanagement" and distrust with some business practices. She does still stream periodically on her Facebook Gaming page
"The one thing I regret the most is not uploading to YouTube sooner and only focusing on Facebook", she said. Facebook has since limited my organic reach further, and now I'm stuck trying to build a YouTube channel in 2020. It's not easy, but I know retention is up in 2020 due to COVID-19".
Check her Youtube Gaming Channel, Freya Fox.
Breaking the Stereotype of Gamers – Rags to Riches
Kao says there are a lot of prejudices against women. She would also like to be a positive role model for people, especially in gaming.
When asked about her coming out experience, she says "it was extremely rough. I had to leave my parent's home and was ostracized by my family at age 21. I did not see them for a few years, I couch surfed, and I was constantly starving from age 21-23. My family loves me dearly now though, and I'm lucky to have a good relationship with them."
In 2019, Kao partnered up with Facebook Gaming and International Women's Day to promote Women in gaming, where she took a unique stance on promoting queer women and making a call to action to eradicate transphobia. The stream was promoted heavily by Facebook and garnered over 500,000 views and reached over 1 million people.
"There's far too much in the gaming community and even some people are targeted where individuals call virtually any person some unpleasant phrases. I am in awe because it has nothing to do with the stream or content 99% of the time either. So why even say it?" added Kao.
Her Success Story – Freya Fox Goes Viral with Celebrity Attention
When asked if there was anything that attributed to her success despite these challenges, she says "Honestly I got lucky. Facebook Gaming was a new platform and I caught the wave early. I also had help from a viral video being shared by celebrities like The Game and Charlie Sheen's Facebook page. Additionally, Facebook Gaming supported many of us with live events. The Facebook Fighting Game Championship at PAX West 2018 was a great example of this. I won and helped Bandai Namco promote Soul Calibur VI."
Freya's "PUBG Flying Car" video featuring Alodia Gosiengfiao was shared by a few celebrities including Charlie Sheen, The Game, Akon, and Sean Kingston, bolstering Freya Fox's fanbase. The video reached over 200,000 views.
A Strong Message to Netizens
Lastly, Kao had a message to the gaming community, "At the end of the day, we've all been changed by this pandemic in 2020, and perhaps it's a cue to change how we treat each other as human beings too. Life is so precious yet so fragile, the opposite of an online first-person shooter. You just cannot respawn in real life. Be kind to your content creators especially, as being a creator is not for the faint of heart. Many creators have unfortunately taken their own lives because of nasty trolls online. Those are real-world consequences, and just imagine if that were your acquaintance to them. I'd hope you would reconsider. If you have a meal with someone, 1v1 them in a game or work it out. Don't tear them down simply for existing."