Xmiramira: The Gaming Streamer Helping Black Content Creators Succeed

Amira Virgil, who goes by Xmiramira online, interacts with viewers during a Twitch stream in March 2022. Photo: Xmiramira on Twitch

Online platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok are creating new celebrities, from xQc and Pokimane to Markiplier and Pewdiepie. Several Black content creators have carved out their own audiences and even rose to superstardom, like KSI, Khaby Lame, and Marques Brownlee. One Twitch streamer and entrepreneur is making sure people of color succeed in the skyrocketing field of content creation.

Amira Virgil is a vocal advocate for diversity in the gaming world. Her advocacy started with a humble activity: modding The Sims.

For those unfamiliar with the super-popular video game series, you can essentially create characters with unique personalities and control everything about their lives: appearances, jobs, home life, and more. Modding is where you can code and create new features and assets for games, from changing characters' appearances to integrating features that improve overall gameplay and performance.

Virgil, who cultivated story-driven YouTube videos featuring her Sims characters, started getting frustrated with a huge flaw in The Sims: the lack of natural skin tones for people of color.

"There’s like this gray, ashy-like undertone, and looking at it is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me," Virgil told The Verge. "Where’s the undertones? Where is the contrast? Where’s the vibrance?"

The content creator would be among the players campaigning for more skin tones in the latest entry to the franchise, The Sims 4. Eventually, Electronic Arts (EA), the developer and publisher of the series, heeded their requests. Unfortunately, the new skin tones still made the characters look "ashy" and Virgil decided to do something different. She decided to dive into a Sims modding program called the Skininator and create a pair of mods called the "Melanin Pack."

"I would use Photoshop to edit the skin tones, edit the files, and then use the programs that the community made to export and test," Virgil explained to reporters. The pack brought over 50 skin tones to the game, including makeup and hairstyles that would work well with them.

“A lot of the makeup wasn’t made for darker skin tones in mind,” she said. “So for the skin tones that I made, I would create makeup [that went with them.]”

Xmiramira's modding elicited a lot of attention from gaming media and other outlets, including BuzzFeed and POCIT (People of Color in Tech). It also grabbed the attention of EA, who tapped Virgil to join their Game Changers program. This allowed gamers and creators to be part of the game development process, effectively making her a diversity and inclusion consultant.

"Michael Duke, senior producer of The Sims 4, says that Virgil led the company to re-think its approach to skin tones and hairstyles, which will be evidenced in a Dec. 8 [2020] drop of more than 100 new skin tones," according to TubeFiller. "Duke adds that Virgil is one member of a round-table council with whom The Sims team regularly meets in its ongoing bid to become more accessible."

As she continued entertaining her audience while addressing diversity issues, the streamer then turned her attention to her fellow content creators. Virgil created an organization called The Noir Network in 2021, which was aimed at elevating and educating Black women content creators. Noir achieves this goal by connecting creators to potential sponsorships, gaming products, and other opportunities.

According to BuzzFeed, the organization has worked with brands like Xbox, NZXT, The CW, and more. Noir has reportedly brought in over $50,000 for its creators since its founding. On Noir's Twitter, they're constantly highlighting Black female streamers whenever they go live or share the products they got with the help of the program.

To learn more about Xmiramira and what she's up to, check out her website, YouTube, and her Twitch channel.

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