March 13, 2023
Three Questions to: Sandra Friedrichs, Streamer and Mental Health Advocate
Sandra Friedrichs had been working in the games industry for years, before starting a new career as a streamer and using her platform to raise awareness for mental health topics. This year she won the title as Vice Miss Germany, which we took as an opportunity to talk about her mission and goals.
Since 2019, "Miss Germany" has no longer been a "beauty contest." Now it is all about women who take responsibility, are role models, and embody female empowerment. You are an active streamer in the games industry: why is it important to you that female role models in the games industry become more visible? As a streamer, do you feel there are different challenges or opportunities?
I recently posted a TikTok quoting the “Game Verband” study: every second German plays video games and half of all gamers are female. Well, I received comments like these:
“Dish Wash Simulator 2023 Grand Master” – “Show me a girl, who has real skills in gaming“
These comments demonstrate that we need more female role models: We need to break down the social belief of gaming as a "male niche" and develop gaming to a diverse space – as it is already, but not in the eyes of everyone!
As an independent streamer, I am unbiased. Even though my love for cozy games and role-playing games is unquestionable, I consider myself part of the whole gaming industry and want to include all genres in my mission. Sure, I get mocked by some for being a streamer and YouTuber as it is still not a real profession to some, but I don't mind them. I know that my mission is important and as you can see in the cited comments we still have a long way to go.
Your mission, first and foremost, is mental health awareness (in gaming). Is mental health awareness underestimated in gaming in particular? Why do you think that is?
Mental health has taken up little space in gaming, mainly because gaming has always been perceived as a niche. However, game addiction and, unfortunately due to some developments in the gaming industry, gambling addiction are issues that must be taken seriously and should be educated about. It is not about pointing fingers to anyone, but about the increase of self-reflection and self-awareness. If someone is playing video games 7-9 hours a day and completely turns away from reality, this is problematic and poses many risks for their mental health. This shouldn’t be glorified as a “hardcore gamer”.
At the Miss Germany competition, the winner is supported in founding a start-up or implementing a project of their choice (2023 winner Kira Geiss plans to start a nationwide youth-platform). Why did you choose a "safe space" for gaming communities – what do you want to achieve with that and what are your plans now that the contest has ended?
For me, there are two elements I want to achieve: education and a safe place.
First, I would like to educate with psychologists in the form of content and use the platforms where gamers hang out: Twitch, TikTok, and YouTube. With the experts, I want to address the negative and positive sides of gaming and propose solutions. This will never replace therapy, but it could be an impulse for many people to seek professional help.
Second, I would like to set up a Safe Place within this education series, where users can exchange ideas and tell their stories. In the long run, I would like to build a network with other content creators who share this vision. So that users know immediately: If xy is online or sharing content, I feel welcomed and safe there.
The bottom line is that it's important to recognize the issues and discuss them. That's exactly what I want to achieve.
Having worked in Hamburg's games industry before starting your own business streaming, what's your view on Hamburg as a games location and gaming city?
First of all: Hamburg is my absolute favorite city in Europe and I'm very happy that so many developers and publishers have settled in this beautiful city. Last year's Polaris alone was a brilliant event for Hamburg as a gaming city, which will hopefully become a long, great success story itself.
Unfortunately, Hamburg is expensive, which I had to experience painfully myself with an entry-level salary in the gaming industry. That's why there should be more local support, so that Hamburg can develop into an even bigger gaming city. It should be possible for everyone to live and work here, and not only for wealthy people that can afford a job in the games market at the moment.