This article is part of our new women in gaming series Makers of Now.
Come rain or shine, Twitch streamer and gamer Mayichi always welcomes her community with the same message: “Hi beautiful people. The stream is starting.” The message, simple and sweet, largely reflects the philosophy she applies to her channel, where she aims to make people feel like family and have a good time while playing video games, chatting about the day, and joking around.
The 29-year-old, whose legal name is Maite Carrillo, is one of the Spanish-speaking world’s top female Twitch streamers, and she’s definitely having a moment. Earlier this year, she was appointed the president of 1K, a female soccer team in Gerard Piqué’s Queens League, alongside former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. When Carrillo’s not watching her team play, she’s playing games like Minecraft or Red Dead Redemption 2, or boxing to prepare for her upcoming fight against U.S. streamer Amouranth in La Velada del Año III, Twitch’s biggest live event of the year.
Many fledging streamers aspire to have a career like Carrillo’s, who’s a content creator for KOI, the esports team of Twitch megastreamer Ibai Llanos. Carrillo’s been a full-time content creator for about four years, although she’s been streaming for much longer, and has amassed 1.8 million followers on Twitch. However, turning her childhood passion for video games into a career has required years of hard work and countless battles, especially as a woman in the male-dominated gaming industry.
Her struggles began in high school, she told Gizmodo, when she didn’t have any friends because her classmates thought she was the “weird geek” who liked video games. When she first started streaming herself playing video games, she received a barrage of attacks from people who came to her stream with the sole purpose of saying nasty things.
“You always get comments for simply being a woman,” she said. “But over time, as my community started growing, those attacks started decreasing. So, although there’s always one person who insults you on every stream, it’s like your daily bread, there comes a moment where you become stronger, and the comments don’t affect you anymore.”
Online comments and harassment aren’t the only thing she’s had to deal with, though. In one case, Carrillo had to report people to the police for doxxing her address and creating online groups dedicated to attacking her in person. She’s also had to suffer through horrible comments people made about her father, who died from cancer three years ago.
Yet, despite these turmoils, Carrillo has remained steadfastly determined to continue doing what she loves, and refused to allow others to bully her away from the space she wants to be in. When you speak to her, she’s positive and warm, and speaks endlessly of the good things streaming has given her. One of those is her community of followers, which she misses on the days she can’t stream. She looks forward to playing games with them and telling them about the latest thing that’s happened to her because of her “eternal” bad luck. They’re her family.
“In the end, I’m living a dream, I’m dedicating myself to something I always liked, but never thought could be a job. I never imagined it, and I feel really fortunate to be able to do it,” Carrillo said.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Gizmodo: How would you describe yourself and your channel for people who aren’t familiar with your content?
Carrillo: I’ve always tried to make sure my channel feels like you’re with your family, for every person that watches to feel like they’re at home and comfortable. So, I would say that I try to create an atmosphere that’s as warm and close as possible with the people who watch me.
Gizmodo: How did you end up with the name “Mayichi”?
Carrillo: It kind of came from my name. My name is Maite and they called me “Mai.” My friends and everyone would call me “Mai,” so it was something that I identified with and that felt very representative of me. From there, I got the nickname “Mayichi.”
Gizmodo: How did you get started with gaming? What caught your attention?
Carrillo: I’ve always liked reading and I liked being part of the story I was reading. With games, what I liked was the feeling that you were the protagonist of your own story. You could live out the entire story and feel it in first person. That’s when I started playing videogames and started playing one after another and I liked it. I still like them.
Gizmodo: What would you say is your absolute favorite game?
Carrillo: To this day, it’s Final Fantasy X because the story is one that really impacted me. Without a doubt, I’d say that one.
Gizmodo: Back when you were starting out, was there any other female streamer or gamer in the industry that you looked up to?
Carrillo: When I started out there weren’t a lot of us, and we all knew each other. It was complicated, but over time I’ve had two role models that have really made an impact on me.
On an international level, I would say it’s Pokimane. I really like how she streams, how she communicates, and how she does everything. In Spain, it’s Cristinini. But like I said, at the beginning when I started there weren’t that many of us, so it was difficult to have a role model.
Cristinini has an amazing gift when it comes to communicating. I loved how she communicated, how she expressed herself, how she made her streams enjoyable. And with Pokimane, I really liked the sweetness she conveyed when she did things and how she explained them. Both of them are such good communicators and I really liked that about them. I hope to be able to communicate as well as they do and most importantly, be able to deliver my message in the best way possible.
Gizmodo: When was the first time you went viral?
Carrillo: It was with a Minecraft series, and it was very sudden. I remember that I started to play the series and in a very short amount of time we went from 300 people to 1,000 people on my channel. It was really crazy. It also happened just before the pandemic. During the pandemic my channel started growing more and it was really crazy.
Gizmodo: How did you manage to turn streaming into your full-time profession? Did you have another job before being a streamer?
Carrillo: Yes, I worked all types of jobs. I worked selling fruits and vegetables and as a sales associate in a luggage store. I’ve worked at a rotisserie cooking chickens, preparing croquettes, and preparing all kinds of things. I’ve also worked at a bakery while I was living in Germany. I’ve worked in many, many things. I’ve worked as a commercial representative for creams and makeup. There are so many things and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one.
It was when I started to do better in streaming, when a brand trusted me, that I decided to take that step and dedicate myself to content creation. It would also allow me to take care of my dad. So, I left the luggage store and started being a full-time streamer.
Gizmodo: Before taking that step, did you stream and work other jobs at the same time?
Carrillo: Yes. I would go to work and when I got off work I would start streaming. I would always start streaming at night because it was when I would finally have time at home. I would stream every day after work. At one point, I was studying, working, and streaming at once because I was trying to get my nursing degree. So, I was studying nursing and then working to be able to pay for university. I was also streaming because it was my hobby, and it was what I liked to do.
Gizmodo: It seems like you’ve always had a lot of things on your plate. I definitely understand, I’m the same way.
Carrillo: Yeah, I’ve always tried very hard to support myself and I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. I was always working at one thing or another.
Gizmodo: Tell me a bit about your community. How would you describe it? Is it made up of people primarily from Spain or do you also have people from other countries?
Carrillo: I would say that I have a lot of viewers from Latin America, as well as from Spain, but a lot from Latin America. I really love that because we exchange curiosities. For example, there’s one thing we’ve talked about: the word “socks” in Spanish (“calcetines.”) I called ankle socks “calcetines” but my viewers from Latin America tell me, “no, those are medias” (“tights” in English). We exchange things and curiosities like that. They love telling jokes and playing jokes on me. We’re always joking around and messing with each other.
Gizmodo: Globalization has impacted gaming and streaming and the culture around them. Are your interactions with your fans from Latin America different than those you have with fans from Spain?
Carrillo: In fact, fans from both regions share a lot of things, like for instance, their passion for video games. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Argentina, Spain, or China because in the end, what we share are our hobbies. We like video games, we like making jokes, we like having a good time. So, my interactions with fans aren’t really that different.
It is true that you learn new things or new words from other cultures. For instance, there are a lot of expressions from Latin America that have stuck with me because I’ve read them from my fans. There are also some words that I wasn’t too careful with using before, like the word “coger” (“take” in English). In Spain, you use “coger” for everything. Like saying, “I’m going to take this” or “you take that.” But of course, in Latin America, you say “coger” and they look at you with a shocked face and say, “Mai.” (“Coger” means “to have sex” in Latin America).
I’ve learned to be careful with those type of things that didn’t affect me before and learned to speak a bit more like how they speak in those places. I have words that I didn’t use before that I use now. That is something I’ve noticed a lot. Besides that, interacting with them is the same. In some cases, fans from Latin America are a lot warmer. So, I’m really happy [with my community].
Gizmodo: To me, something that’s really stood out about your streams is your positive vibe and how caring you are with your community. How do you express your personality through streaming?
Carrillo: I show what I’m like in real life. Like, if you meet me in person one day, you’ll see that I’m the same on and off camera. I’ve never known how to be another person that’s not me. I think it’s easier when you’re you. Plus, when you stream live for so many hours, people can tell if you’re not being yourself. So, I just try to be myself.
Gizmodo: Women in gaming face a lot of difficulties in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Has it been difficult for you being a woman in this industry in Spain?
Carrillo: You always get comments for simply being a woman. When I first started it was hard because I got really ugly attacks from a lot of people who would come on my stream to say these horrible things. But over time, as my community started growing, those attacks started decreasing. So, although there’s always one person who insults you on every stream, it’s like your daily bread, there comes a moment where you become stronger, and the comments don’t affect you anymore.
Unfortunately, I also have to tell you that you have to learn not to give those comments importance and stop listening to them. While they may attack us for being women, they can also attack a guy because they think he’s a bad player. It’s like these people are always looking for something to attack you over. In the end, we can’t give them what they’re looking for and we have to demonstrate that we won’t leave that space no matter what they say.
Gizmodo: How do you deal with harassment?
Carrillo: I’ve filed police reports in extreme situations of harassment. They published my address, they wanted to send things to my house, which isn’t exactly easy to access. Haters were creating groups who wanted to attack me. In the end, it got to a point where I decided I had to get serious and go and file a police report because I was in such a bad situation. I had horrible anxiety thinking about how they could show up at my house at any time, so I had to report it.
Anytime I see another streamer going through something similar, I’m super drastic and tell them right off the bat, go to the police. When you stop those things right at the beginning, it doesn’t get worse, but many times if you don’t do anything, it gets worse.
In my case, it got worse because I never gave it any importance. I thought, “They’re not capable of doing anything. They’re not going to do anything more than post comments.” But sometimes things evolve to another level, a very scary level. Many times, there are obsessions that go beyond what’s normal. In those cases, you have to go to the police no matter what.
Gizmodo: What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in world of streaming and gaming?
Carrillo: The Velada. Boxing is a hard, to tell you the truth, so I would say that’s the biggest challenge I’m facing right now. Overall, though, my biggest challenge is never giving up, to keep going despite all the things that might be working against me. Things don’t always go upward or in a straight line. Sometimes things go up and down. But having to overcome that and everything else is very hard. It’s what I would say makes a big difference, not giving up even when you’re down or on the way up.
Gizmodo: It’s clear that being a streamer isn’t easy. Have you ever struggled with mental health throughout your career as a streamer? If so, how did you deal with it?
Carrillo: I’ve had a lot of struggles. When you’re struggling with your mental health, things don’t always move upwards. There are always relapses during difficult moments, where you feel like life has knocked you down. I struggled when my dad had cancer. We fought his cancer for two years.
I lost him three years ago while I was streaming and working, and I had to process that loss. For me, my dad was my pillar, he was the most important person in my life and losing him was a huge blow. Many times, I thought about leaving streaming. Many times, I thought that I wasn’t enough, that I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. Processing it was very hard.
The harassment has also caused me to struggle. I’ve suffered harassment for many years from people who have dedicated their energy to try to take me down on purpose. They’ve told me horrible things, made horrible comments about my dad, about people that I love. Even today there are times when people still harass me and want to control my life and know everything about me. All of that can bring you to a point where you feel down, you have moments of anxiety, of wanting to cry and get it all out, and then getting back up again.
I haven’t given up. I’m still fighting despite everything that’s gone against me, even when I felt I couldn’t go on. I think that even if it’s hard, we must be able to say, “Look, this is a really bad situation, and I need to look for help.”
In fact, I’ve sought professional help recently because of the Velada so they can help me prepare psychologically and be very mentally strong. I think that being able to control your feelings is very important for certain challenges. What I’ve always said to my community and to all the people around me that matter is that it’s important to seek professional help. There are battles that we can’t fight alone, even if we believe that we can, we need extra help. That help can be a shield or a sword when the time comes to fight against those sensations we’re feeling. We can’t give up and we must keep fighting and of course seek help when it’s necessary.
There are situations where you feel like you can’t handle it on your own and that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s braver to ask for help than to try to carry the burden by yourself.
Gizmodo: How do you take care of your mental health?
Carrillo: I try to keep a circle of healthy people around me, to hang out with people who bring something to my life, people who make me happy and make me feel good. Overall, on a daily basis, I try to focus on the positive comments, on everything that’s positive, that’s good, that’s beautiful. I avoid all the ugly comments on social media. I don’t look at them or try not to look them and focus on the positive.
Gizmodo: What’s the next thing you want to do, your next dream?
Carrillo: After the Velada, there’s something I really want to do. My dream is to travel the world, to stream while I travel the world, from Latin America to Asia—to travel the world and show people what I’m seeing.
It’s complicated to do that because I have to do a lot of events in Spain and I don’t have to chance to travel outside the country, but one day I want to do it.
Gizmodo: What message would you send women who are thinking about getting into gaming and streaming?
Carrillo: I would push them to do it. My childhood best friends were scared about getting into gaming and streaming and I encouraged them. They were scared about the comments and about what people might say, but I always told them that the most important thing was for them to have fun, to think about it like a hobby that helps you disconnect. You’re going to meet incredible people who are going to understand you and like what you do. Overall, the opportunity and the experience are worth it. It has the potential to change your life in a way you never imagined, and you never know what could happen.
Give it try, don’t be scared. In the end, history is written by those who are brave, so go forward.
Gizmodo: Last question, would you say that gaming and streaming have changed your life?
Carrillo: Completely. In high school, I was the weird geek that didn’t have any friends because I played video games and people thought I was weird. Today, I’ve created a family and I feel like I’m participating in something I never thought would happen. In the end, I’m living a dream, I’m dedicating myself to something I always liked, but never thought could be a job. I never imagined it, and I feel really fortunate to be able to do it.
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