Zombaekillz talks equity in gaming for Black women, finding radical joy and more

Zombaekillz talks equity in gaming for Black women, finding radical joy and more

by Robin Mosley

Natasha “Zombaekillz” Zinda is a variety streamer who creates content that is authentically her. While she’s building her brand, she is also speaking out to her audience about mental health, life and politics, letting everyone around her know that these topics matter and cannot be ignored.

While most people might have learned about her after trolls attacked her for calling out Sony and Microsoft for failing to have Black women review these systems, she has been calling out injustices that she sees before and since then.

Read more: When is it worth paying extra for a video game DLC?

Nerd Street had a chance to interview her to learn more about her inspiration, growth, building community and more. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Nerd Street: What was the game that got you inspired to create content, or at least a game that changed your life and influenced you to become who you are today?

ZombaeKillz: I probably have to say ARK Survival Evolved, it’s my favorite game of all time, [it’s] the game that I spend probably the most time in or that I’ve spent the most time in. I have 7,446 hours in that game. I’ve spent a lot of time really immersed in that world.

And one of the things that drew me to it was, it was one of the first games that I played that I had a fully customizable character. As in like, body weight, skin tone, hair, like even your hip width, or your stomach, can go in or out, like your thighs can be adjusted. And something about that level of control over what I looked like in a game really brought me in, and then the gameplay just kind of kept me in there forever.

But it was a game I’ve had a lot of really immersive talks around like race and social justice issues and stuff while I played that game, because it has one of the most toxic communities that exists. And I’ve been able to talk about the stuff that’s important to me in games and in settings like that, where people harass you.

Nerd Street: Did you always see yourself being where you are now? Everything has happened so fast getting partnerships, becoming a partner with Twitch. Did you ever see this happening so quickly? How are you managing all of this?

Zombaekillz: I think you’re the first person who really asked me about this. Um no, I didn’t see any of this. And I had no idea things would happen so fast, or that I’d be as blessed as I am, I guess, in this space? I thought maybe I’d piddle around forever, making content. And that was enough for me.

I really enjoyed the experience that I was getting, being able to talk to people and relate to people. And that was enough. And then all of a sudden, I got uplifted pretty fast after my appearance on Spawn on Me’s “A lesson in Blackness” [podcast]. And it didn’t stop and still hasn’t really stopped.

I feel like people put me on the level of content creators who have been in a space for you know, 10 years. But then it’s also really incredible because I did things that I never thought I would ever be capable of hitting partners so fast. I honestly thought partner was such a far distant thing that I didn’t even want to really give myself hope that I could actually pull it off and get sponsored with Logitech, something that I also never saw. That has been amazing and a huge blessing to my content creation journey.

Nerd Street: With content creation, like how do you plan out what you’re going to play?

Zombaekillz: I actually pretty much was winging it until recently. I’ll say that in January, I started looking at my scheduling more seriously. And I started realizing “OK, you kind of have to start planning things out.” And maybe you should start reaching out to other people, like in a scheduled kind of way.

And so having a couple of people that you can create content with regularly is really soothing, because you know that your content [is] safe with them, they’re not going to pull any surprises on your audience and that they have the same values. And I started using a Passion Planner, which I love and highly recommend if you have ADHD.

Nerd Street: How did you curate your community?

Zombaekillz: I was unapologetically myself from the door I also am upon. I’m like, unbending on yielding in the amount of kindness that I have in my community. If you’re not a kind person, if you’re not a person whose heart and mind is open, we don’t have space for you. And I made that very clear from when I was a very small streamer. And I tried to maintain that from now on.

I think that community curation is the backbone of a successful content creator. And we’re seeing it right now, literally coming back to bite some of these bigger streamers in their butts, like, you see, these people who are uplifted have these massive platforms and their communities are trash, they attack people, they’re racist, they have white supremacist values, they’re homophobic or transphobic. And they’re like, ‘Well, I’m not like this.’ And it’s like, even if you’re not like this, you haven’t been actively against these things. And if you’re not active in curating that, then you’re just as guilty of allowing that space to fester and to grow.

So, I very much am active in pruning that. And I have a really great team of moderators, who are both in my Discord and who are in my stream, were incredible. I couldn’t curate the community that I have without them, without them being in sync with me.

Nerd Street: How do you find radical joy?

Zombaekillz: I kind of find joy just in my everyday life, I guess I feel so dang blessed. Like when you think about it, I’m living in an incredible existence. I’m a kid who came from a very poor and violent background, and I grew into an adult that has overcome so many things. And now I’m living my very best life and speaking my truth on a daily basis to hundreds of strangers on the internet. And I’m helping change people’s hearts.

And I find so much radical joy in that I found so much joy in providing a safe space for people. I find so much joy in providing learning and education for people who’ve maybe never thought of things in a different way. I find so much joy in how much I learned from my audience in my community.

I’m forever growing. I’m learning all the time. I’m gonna make a ton of mistakes. I am a deeply flawed individual, like the rest of the humans on this planet. And I very much want to be better than I was yesterday, every single day. So I find joy, being rooted in what I’m learning and how I’m growing daily.

Nerd Street: What does equity in gaming and tech for Black women look like for you?

Zombaekillz: I think it’s got to be a lot more to do with ownership of your content. … It looks like you know, Twitch running Black History programs, it looks like all the things that you’re kind of seeing taking place right now. There’s so much change happening. And there’s so much change that has happened since “A lesson in Blackness” went viral. And the games industry started to move differently. And there are so many people that are doing the work in this space. I want to see more equity for what they’re doing like what Xbox did working with us Black women in the space. What PlayStation did working with Black women in this space and making sure to include us as part of their rollouts.

All of this stuff is giving us equity and making us have a seat at the table. What we do with that seat on the table is going to be up to the individuals. But the fact that we’re getting seats now is what we should be looking at moving forward as a way to have equity.

Nerd Street: I already know about the situation where you had to call out PlayStation and Xbox to get Black people to be able to review things. So, what was that process like?

Zombaekillz: I think what that looked like for me was, of course, I made the tweet. But the tweet did absolutely nothing. And then after I made the tweet, I was like, you know what, maybe I should put my money where my mouth is. And I should find out who these people are, how you can get in touch with them. And I need to pitch myself.

So, I had a pitch tech made by another content creator. And I wrote up an email, and I pitched after I found their emails on LinkedIn, because I did do some digging and some searching to find some emails for partnerships and PR people for Xbox and for Sony, and I pitch them. I set my pitch deck long with you know, my qualifications. I’m like, “hey, look, I have definitely done this before, but I’m also a content creator.” And the rep from Sony was like, “OK, let us look at your channel. Let us review all this stuff.” Thank you for sending this, and we’ll get back to you.

And seven painstaking days later, they got back to me and said, “Hey, we reviewed your channel, by the way, your content is hilarious. We’d love to work with you.”

Nerd Street: Last question, what are you looking forward to playing this year?

Zombaekillz: I’m looking forward to playing Ratchet and Clank. I’m looking forward to Bed and Breakfast. That’s pretty much like my big thing. I’m really looking forward to the Bed and Breakfast game. Looks really fun.

Lead image credit: Zombaekillz

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