There’s a cloud of tulle dresses on the rooftop of a Beverly Hills mansion and nestled among the multicolored layers are the five women of OfflineTV, one of the most successful content creation groups in streaming. The sun is setting behind the backdrop of hills, signaling an imminent end to our Refinery29 shoot, but they pause to figure out where one fit begins and the next ends. "Is it my dress? Your dress?" asks Sydeon, wearing lavender Nadya Dzyak with sheer cutouts and pleats. "It’s our dress," laughs Pokimane, herself in a pink Anouki babydoll.
It’s also their moment.
Collectively, the pair, along with LilyPichu, QuarterJade and Yvonnie, command a following of 48 million across all their channels, from Instagram to TikTok, and are among the most popular streamers on Twitch and YouTube. Their faces are everywhere in gaming and beyond. Earlier this month, Pokimane was front and center on a billboard in Times Square, advertising her "Poki’s Picks" Spotify playlist. In August, LilyPichu sold out her first concert — titled "Comfi Beats" — at Candela La Brea in Los Angeles, performing original songs she wrote. Seeing the five of them together, towering above Los Angeles, the entire city at their feet, solidifies the dizzying heights they’ve achieved and the power in that message: that not only can women game, they can reach the pinnacle of success in a space that hasn’t always welcomed them, and they can do it individually — and together.
"Especially within a male-dominated field, it's so important to have those female friendships and people who support and uplift you," Pokimane later tells me in an interview. "If you get it, you get it, and I feel like we all understand each other very well."
On QuarterJade: Lia Stublla dress; AGL shoes; Kerry Parker gloves; Ninfa Handmade earrings.
If the women of OTV were to play themselves in a sitcom, Poki, as Imane Anys is often called, would be the business-savvy mogul and influential matriarch. LilyPichu is the sweet-voiced creative artist exploring her edgy era. Yvonnie, OTV’s house manager turned full-time streamer, is the responsible, empathetic friend with a healthy dose of chaotic energy. Sydeon is the grounded model who isn’t afraid to check the wacky personalities around her and is BFFs with QuarterJade, the vivacious, outgoing little sister of the group.
Your favorite TV ensembles sign a contract to work together but the majority of OTV’s members are there by choice. Unlike esports orgs that sign streamers for cash and clout, OTV largely operates on good faith. Only the newest members — Sydeon, QuarterJade and Masayoshi — have contracts after joining in November 2021, and that’s only at the request of their talent agency, Loaded, according to an OTV representative. "OTV might be a unique case where we have always just taken people's word for things or just trusted people versus having things written down on paper," Yvonnie says. Being a part of OTV comes with access to resources like video editors to help ease the pipeline of churning out content, but the main gain isn’t financial. "We all like each other. That's why it has existed for so long. Because we could just walk out. Like, I'm not getting paid. What the fuck is equity in OTV? Like, nothing," LilyPichu (Lily for short) tells me. "I'm just here because I like you guys."
It’s the kind of trust you’d only have with family.
On Pokimane: Odi Et Amo top; Odi Et Amo skirt; Naked Wolfe shoes, available at farfetch.com; Amorcito bracelet; Amorcito earrings.
Streaming at home for endless hours and days can get lonely, and few top creators go about it solo. Most have a familiar cast of friends and collaborators who they game, vlog and shoot content with, and it’s when they get that right mix of characters that the magic happens. For OTV, that special sauce came to fruition in 2017 when Poki and her roommates, which included fellow cofounder Scarra, officially branded themselves as OfflineTV.
Pegged by the gaming community as the wholesome bunch of streamers, the group, which quickly added official members like Lily and a roster of "friends of," filmed themselves doing fun activities not that much different from what you and your buddies might do — if you had serious cash flow, no nine-to-five, and millions of fans hungry to be entertained. Think hide and seek (but in a $10 million mansion), beer pong (but a lost cup means you’re getting slapped in the face with kimchi) and a white elephant gift exchange (but with a $1,000 limit per person and you might end up with a goat — yes, really). On Dec. 16, OTV announced that all of its members, except Poki, Yvonnie and Michael Reeves, will once again live together in a new content house.
"People just like being part of something," says Lily. That rings especially true for the streamer, who grew up first in New York, then New Jersey, with traditional Korean parents who thought video games were bad for you. Having streamed on Twitch for a decade before jumping to YouTube Gaming in June, these days Lily, who asked not to share her real name out of privacy concerns, is "hard chilling" and pursuing her interests beyond gaming. "I feel like I've been in this industry for so long. I'm totally okay branching out — whether it's voice acting or music." Or her personal style. After seeing the stylist’s initial pulls for her, Lily specifically asks for something "edgier" and ends up in a neon yellow Christopher John Rogers x Target dress.
Being part of a creator collective is the difference between solo queuing and five stacking. Even if you have one of the biggest spotlights in gaming, it’s just always better with friends, even for top veteran streamers like Lily and Poki, who have been on since 2012 and 2013 respectively. "When you are a solo content creator, especially since I live alone, and you're just making content day in and day out, it's very easy to feel disconnected," Poki adds. "I don't know if I would be here today if I didn't have the support systems that I have had throughout the years."
On Sydeon: 404 studio dress; Prada shoes; Kerry Parker socks; Studio Cult ring.
Today, OTV is made up of nine creators, guided by producer Brodin, the mind behind the madness. Initially Poki’s personal assistant, Yvonnie aka Yvonne Ng, moved from Canada, where she grew up, to LA in 2018 after getting hired as OTV’s house manager. She would stream on the side, for fun, and eventually became a staple in OTV’s videos. That grind paid off. "Whether it is me in Calgary or me when I first wanted a job in gaming, I never really imagined this for me," she says. "So I feel extremely thankful and happy and appreciative that I truly get to do what I would say is my dream job." Along with Yvonnie and the rest of the women, there’s dad figure Scarra, everyone’s favorite brother Disguised Toast, Lily’s boyfriend and chaotic comedian Michael Reeves (who once brought 55 gallons of crude oil to the annual OTV white elephant), and renaissance man Masayoshi, who, along with QuarterJade and Sydeon, is the next generation of OTV.
Even before she started streaming on Twitch in 2017, QuarterJade aka Jodi, who asked not to share her last name citing privacy concerns, had watched OTV videos in her college library. "I had known of [OTV] but mostly I was following a lot of the girls," she recalls. "I knew of Lily. I knew of Imane, and I would watch their streams … And then I remember the announcement of, 'Oh my god, we’re OTV!'" As her channel quickly blossomed, Jodi found herself running in the same circles and gaming in the same lobbies as many of OTV’s members. Once Sydeon, who’s also from the Seattle area (fun fact: Jodi’s ex introduced them. The friendship has lasted longer than the relationship), decided to move to LA to pursue modeling and streaming, the now-inseparable pair became more enmeshed with the OTV crew. So when the opportunity came for Jodi and Syd to join an organization, it made sense for them to join OTV, even though orgs like 100 Thieves and NRG were sniffing around. "There's a lot of orgs out there that probably would have given us an offer, but those are just money salary offers," Jodi says. "This is a passion project." The rest is in your watched history.
When you’re dubbed the Disney group of streaming, it’s easy to be written off as the PG-rated, sanitized version of yourself. Let’s face it: it’s what the world loves to do to women. But being human is much more complex than any archetype. And no matter the box that some people put the women of OTV in, each carries a narrative that’s both relatable and unique to herself.
For Syd, the newest to streaming, it’s recognizing that with the OTV spotlight comes the responsibility of speaking on issues affecting the Black creator community. "If people don't think there is a barrier [for Black gamers], they are not looking," she tells me. "If I scroll Twitch, finding Black content creators is hard. Finding Black content creators with higher numbers is even harder. I can count on my fingers probably the amount of Black content creators that break over a thousand views. And then from there how many of them are women? Not many at all." Even if she’s not the one to shatter that ceiling — "I would love to be that person. And if it is not me, that is okay as long as somebody is able to do it" — she’s made it part of her mission to always address the "elephant in the room." "I’m the only Black person in OTV," she tells me. "Maybe [viewers] didn’t understand that perspective before I was able to speak about it. So I'm really happy to have a space to be like, 'Isn't it interesting that you don't see top female Black creators anywhere? Has anybody ever thought about that?'"
Yvonnie, meanwhile, has a self-awareness of what’s needed to build the life she wants but gives herself grace in the meantime. "What I don't like is complaining about things I could technically have the power to do or change … I would like for myself to have more discipline so that it leaks into every area of my life so I can be happier overall." For those of us who are on our paths of self-discovery, Jodi is right there by our side. "I don't really know my identity in the scene or the thing that I bring to the table. I’ve [been asked], 'Why do you think people are watching?' I have no clue but I’m just glad the people do." And after all these years, Lily is sticking to who she is — sweet, spicy and self-assured — with zero apologies. "People either like me or not like me. It's up to you. I'm the same shit for a decade. I have run out of fucks."
Finally for Poki, arguably the woman with the biggest name in gaming, it’s absolving herself of the weight of being labeled a pioneer for women gamers. She says she never thought of herself in this light. "If you asked me four years ago, I felt a lot of pressure to be the figurehead for female streamers and even though some people might still consider me as such, I feel like there's so many other wonderful, successful female streamers that I don't so much feel that pressure." That freedom to choose for herself includes continuing to create content with OTV, the group that was there for her before her meteoric rise, and prioritizing stepping away from the camera not because she needs to but because she wants to. "Especially because I started streaming at such a young age, I feel like if I don't forcibly create this space, I have no time to change and evolve as a person. I might as well just be the same 17-year-old me who's just playing the same game all the time."
On LilyPichu: Christopher John Rogers x Target dress; Dolls Kill boots; Studio Cult earrings; Studio Cult ring; T Henri sunglasses, available at thenri.com.
We’re at an inflection point in streamerland where the 1% of the 1% of creators who have broken the top echelons of the industry are venturing beyond their setups to explore other opportunities, most of which go beyond gaming and streaming. The women of OTV are no exception. Poki, also a cofounder of talent management agency RTS, teased a project that she calls "her baby," which she guesstimates will be announced in 2024. Syd, who signed with model agency The Society Management in November, wants to further meld the fashion and gaming worlds. Lily wants to create a children’s book and is excited to dive more into music and voice acting, having recently landed a role in Riot Games' Legends of Runeterra. Jodi has dreams of launching a skincare line (yes, that includes for men), while Yvonnie is excited to put out merch for the first time.
The relationships among the women may ebb and flow, as they do for us all, but that doesn’t take away from the significance they’ve all played in each other's lives. That script is still being written. "Each person has had their arc in my life that I find very valuable or am thankful for," says Yvonnie. There’s an understanding among the OTV women that in the end they’d have each other’s backs, no matter what. "Even if not every single member of OTV keeps up with the other every single day, we know that worse comes to worst, or if anyone needs something, that we can lean on each other," Poki says. "We all genuinely have such a deep sense of respect and admiration for each other. We see each other's strengths and weaknesses and really love each other for that."
On Yvonnie: Aniye By dress; Kerry Parker gloves. On Jade: Forte Forte top; That’s So Fetch bustier; Kikiriki bottom. On LilyPichu: Forte Forte dress. On Poki: Anouki dress; Buffalo London shoes; Ariel Taub earrings. On Sydeon: Nadya Dzyak dress.
As we strive to make gaming more inclusive, more representative, more reflective of the playerbase and what they stand for, the women of OTV show there’s no one path to being a professional gamer. They’ve all done it their own way to show who a gamer is, what they represent and the story they choose to tell, on their own and together. It’s that range, despite the barriers that still exist, that shows how far gaming really has come. "I see pieces of myself in each of these girls but I don't think I'm just like any of them, and I feel like maybe they feel that way too," Syd says.
"That variance, it's the spice of life," Poki says, with a chef’s kiss.