Co-written and coordinated by Madison Chapman.
At this years Smite World Championship we got a moment to sit down with the wonderful Yvonne Chavez. Who is better known as LiL Mamacita. If you don't know who LiL Mamacita, she is a regular streamer on Hi-Rez's official Twitch Channel, and is absolutely a blast to watch. She had some great things to say on a variety of topics and we really appreciated the time we got with her.
Thanks so much for taking time to talk to us today. Can you take a moment to introduce yourself and your role at Hi-Rez Studios?
Hi my name is Yvonne Chavez, Also known as LiL Mamacita. I am an associate content producer. I basically deal with the twitch community. I get the feedback; I do the Hi-rez help, deal with foreign streamers, Find new streamers and deal with all the twitch nerds.
I know there are a lot of difficulties associated with being a female streamer and gamer. What are some difficulties and hurdles you have had to face?
I think people still think that girls don't play video games. For some reason they think “oh you’re a girl you must be terrible.” If I have a bad game It's automatically because I'm a girl and I'm thinking “No, you did bad too, you fed the entire game!” I have games where I do well and guys say things like “oh it's because you work for the company, you're supposed to be nice” and I'm like “I am nice!”. So I just give them sass right back and say “Oh I thought you were supposed to be good because you're a guy.”
Yeah, you got to give it as you get it.
Exactly! People still don't seem to understand that anyone can be a gamer nowadays. It doesn't matter if you're a girl or a guy, a little kid or whoever. Even a lot of older men play videogames, maybe it's just cell phone games, but anyone can be a gamer. It’s so much different now.
Do you identify with the term gamer, or do you just consider yourself a person who plays games?
Well normally I just tell people, “I'm just a nerd that everyone knows.” I mean I game, it's part of my job. I just don't see it as a big thing. I don't people to be like, “oh that’s Mamacita the gamer”. Nah I just play games. I work and I'm passionate about it.
When someone outside the community asks you what you do for a living, what do you tell them?
Oh yeah, that's something that comes up a lot. I give them a professional answer. I say stuff like, I do Twitch community, feedback, Hi-Rez help, API stuff. I also tell them the reason I’m extra sassy now is because part of my job is dealing with you guys [media], and you guys can be a pain in the butt sometimes.
This year, you hosted the SWC Cosplay awards. How did you first get into cosplay?
Before I started working for the company, there was a SMITE launch tournament. I was like “I kind of want to do costuming”. At the SMITE launch I chose to do little devil cupid. I chose to do a male character because I thought it would be interesting. At a LAN tournament I did Vulcan, another male character. That was a lot of fun.
What part of the cosplay appeals to you the most?
For me, there is always the magic behind the final product, whether it’s music or movies or whatever. For me I just wanted to try it. I’m artistic, but I haven’t found my niche of what I could be. So I tried cosplaying. What I really enjoyed…it’s the best part and the worst part. I really like making the costume. When you design it, the painting, the priming the armor, I mean I really hate it, but I love the final product so much that I you have to see it through. The suffering you go through, because you hate it and love it at the same time. It’s all worth it in the end.
What was your favorite cosplay at SWC this year?
The Scylla was wonderful! It was really well done. The craftsmanship, the embroidery everything was done in top quality. I think she was everyone’s favorite.
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years, whether it be with Hi-Rez, another development company or do you think it could turn in to something else?
I think it could. This is the first job where I have ever been in such an important position. I mean, I grew up in California, I grew up in LA. My family immigrated here, they don’t know about school or about college. They are very simple folk. For me, just being here, just working in a job with stuff like benefits- I have never had benefits before or anything like that. Right now, it’s big enough for me.
One thing I really like about Hi-Rez and working here is they kind of want to see you grow on your own. I don’t necessarily have the confidence to all of a sudden take charge. It takes time, little by little I hope, that by being here and with a little push it helps me step up in to something more. There’s things I am interested in, but since my world was so small, I didn’t even know things like this existed. I just hope to build my confidence in the future and find my place.
You mentioned your parents, what do they think of this spotlight you now have?
They don’t really understand it. I’m not really close to them. I know my mother, and videogames kind of creep her out and my dad, he says “That’s awesome, I don’t really know what you do, but you’re on camera!”. They don’t really understand but they think it’s cool. When they tell my family from mexico they say “Hey look she’s in the computer!” they don’t really know what’s going on but they are proud.
The first game that helped you gain recognition was Tribes. How did you get in to Tribes Ascend and video games in general.
Well I got in to tribes because I was playing Team Fortress 2 at the time. I was a server admin, playing competitively with group of friends. We were the low gravity gang. We played competitively and we had a lot of fun.
I stopped playing Team Fortress 2 and just started collecting the hats. I was like a hustler man! I owned so many hats! I would stay on service and trade and stuff, I no longer enjoyed the game I just wanted to collect stuff. I became addicted to stuff, I decided I needed another shooter. My roommate got a Tribes Ascend beta key and little by little I started playing that. I liked it, but I hated it at first.
If you hated it, what kept you inspired to keep playing.
I didn’t understand how to shoot things. Coming from Team Fortress 2 the sniping is really quick, but in Tribes your snipes are much slower, you’re supposed to guide them. So I decided to challenge myself, I said you know what, I’m going to get good at this role. I’m going to sit here until I get great at this game. So that’s exactly what I did.
There were days my roommate was like “you know what…you’re not allowed to play anymore today. I was definitely a rager. Now that I’m in the public I was able to learn to control that more. For a long I played Tribes competitively and that naturally led in to SMITE which eventually evolved in to a streaming position with Hi-Rez.
You mentioned Team Fortress 2, was that you’re first introduction in to games or did you play anything growing up?
I was always a console gamer, so PC gaming was pretty new to me. My dad and my folks aren't from here and they didn't speak the language. We still had console games growing up. We loved things like Street Fighter and Super Mario. We also played lots of need for speed and Midnight club.
Up until I was about 19 I didn't play online games. My first introduction to anything online was Left 4 Dead and I didn’t understand what trolling was. I was like “why are these people being so mean to me!”. When I was younger there were times playing on the PlayStation and such when I couldn't beat a certain level because I didn't understand the language. Going from console to PC games was a completely new world for me.
Trolls can be terrible. Some people think there is a level of toxicity among gaming communities, what’s your opinion?
It took me a long time to understand why people were like that. I have only been a PC gamer for about four or so years. I guess still don’t understand why, but I have learned to accept it. Every online community is going to have that. There will be people who just want to tear you down and there are others where you can be like “I’m sorry guys I’m new” and they are the most forgiving an understanding people. It is what it is, there’s going to be good and bad in anything you do, whether it’s school, life or relationships. It’s just part of how it is.
Where do you pull the strength to deal with some of the harsher interactions?
Well like, my co-workers have helped a lot especially Gavin Bigalo who’s kind of like my manager. There are days I can put up with them and I can sass you until you can’t sass anymore. Than there are days where it really does affect me. I sit at my computer and want to cry about it. Then Gavin’s like “you know what, they don’t care about it.”. I tell myself, that’s true. At the end of the day, those who want to hate will hate and they won’t care about it. They will move on with their lives. You can’t let them put you down, you have to move on. They don’t care about you; they just want to hurt you.
Do you see your persona twitching reflect who you are in real life.
You know what, yeah. I am shy, but when I get sassy I get really sassy. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s not. I’m shy and nervous when I shouldn’t be and feisty and in your face when I shouldn’t be. I am who I am. I’m the same person on camera as I am in real life. I don’t speak super professional, I don’t come from much. I just try to keep it simple. I’m cool with you if you’re cool with me. I will sass you, and people know I’m really feisty, it’s just who I am. Sometimes I think it’s because I’m short so that’s why I have a short temper to match. I’m like a little firecracker.
Thank you so much for your time Yvonne, do you have any last word for our readers?
To all my fans and haters out there I hope you have a wonderful day and keep on gaming, you Nerds