The video games industry has had a pretty nasty history when it comes to the treatment of women. This runs the gamut from misogyny, sexism, manipulation, discrimination and sexual predation all the way to female streamers and YouTubers being harassed simply for being women. Despite these hurdles, many women are championing the industry and thriving in their fields, including Kathleen Belsten, aka Loserfruit.
Belsten is a Melbourne-based Twitch streamer, YouTuber and professional gamer. She has a collective following of over 11 million followers across Twitch, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, and is the most-followed female streamer in Australia, and the second most-followed in the world.
Starting her Loserfruit channel in 2013, she never thought it was going to blow up the way it did. “It’s been amazing and also sort of unbelievable,” she tells Refinery29 Australia. “When I started streaming and making videos, it wasn’t a normal career path and I didn’t expect it to become more than a hobby. I’ve met some of my closest friends through streaming and travelled the world, so I think I’m pretty lucky.”
I don’t think teenage me rushing home to play Call Of Duty after school would have ever thought they’d end up as a character in a game!
Belsten began her channel posting League of Legends gameplay and satirical videos. However, it was the release of Epic Games’ Fortnite in 2017 that really blew up her channel. Her success in the Fortnite world later led to her being included in the game as a character skin.
Asking her what went through her head after the announcement, she says she couldn’t believe it when it happened. “I don’t think teenage me rushing home to play Call Of Duty after school would have ever thought they’d end up as a character in a game,” she says. “We worked really hard with the guys at Epic to create the skin and I’m still happy with how it turned out.”
With the gaming world booming post-COVID, it only makes sense that it would eventually collide with other creative industries. Collaborations with other streamers are fairly common in the YouTube and Twitch worlds, and Belsten’s career has seen her collaborating with musicians such as Tash Sultana.
When asked what some of her favourite collaborations have been, Belsten pauses to think. “I worked with Benee on a video which was very cool, as I’m a fan of her music. Every time I get to go to an event whether that’s a convention or a Fortnite tournament it’s great to hang out and meet other creators," she says. "Being an Aussie streamer, our timezone doesn’t make it super easy to collaborate, so it’s always fun when you get a bunch of streamers in one space.”
It’s weird to hear people call me an inspiration when I feel like I’m just being stupid on the internet and doing what I love.
More recently, Belsten has been involved in the launch of YouTube Shorts in Australia, where Australian gaming YouTubers have recreated their favourite gaming moments in real life. They went to great lengths to bring these moments to life, and I was curious to hear about what Belsten’s experience was like.
“Actually, really fun!” she exclaims. “Some of my first Fortnite videos that started getting big views were my emote dance ones so it was great to be able to create a short that’s a bit of a throwback. It also gave me a chance to show off my skin cosplay which is great, as a lot of effort went into creating it. I uploaded a few Shorts back in the beta and I think it’s very easily become a go-to for creators and viewers.”
As a fellow woman in the gaming world, I tell Belsten that I consider her to be an inspiration for women in the gaming industry, which surprises her. “Thank you! It’s weird to hear people call me an inspiration when I feel like I’m just being stupid on the internet and doing what I love.”
Chatting about how her experiences have influenced her outlook on the Australian gaming landscape for women, Belsten has hope. “I’m optimistic. I think the games industry still has a ways to go but just seeing other women reaching milestones encourages more girls to get into the space.”
We end our conversation on a high note, reflecting on how the gaming world has changed and what advice she has for women and girls trying to break into the male-dominated video game industry.
“There are way more girls in the gaming space now than there were back when I started, which I love to see. My advice would be ‘be yourself,’ as cliché as that sounds.”