Layla Abbott

We got to see what Layla has been up to since season 1.

QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?

Layla: Sure thing! I’m Layla, 30 years old (31 if November has passed), and I proudly wave the transgender and lesbian flags. While my main call of action is streaming on Twitch, with a main focus of Nintendo games, I’m also a caster in the esports scene; currently working for Esports Scotland on the back of their 2nd Esports League Season!

QRM: How have things changed for you since you participated in our Season 1 interview?

Layla: A lot, actually. I'm on hormones now, which is still a little weird; good, of course, and certainly a massive help. My tabletop projects are on the backburner a bit, but they are still there. The big change, of course, is the casting work. In 2018, I ended up doing match commentary for my own tournaments, for NintendoPlayersUK in their first Squid League, got introduced to Esports Scotland, and then helped NintendoUK do 2 of the Splatoon 2 UK Championship Qualifiers (Insomnia and EGX respectively) before being asked to help with the actual Grand Finals at MCM in November. It has been a dream come true to do something like on such a big stage, and now I find myself working with Esports Scotland as I have done production work AND casting on 3 out of 4 of their season's league games (CS:GO, Rocket League, and Smash Bros Ultimate) and called the shots for the LAN Finals at Resonate back in July, though that was just for RL.

QRM: What about the games industry excites and inspires you?

Layla: For me, the fact that there are so many people out there who are passionate about bringing games and ideas that they love to life excites me in so many ways! While it can be hard to look past certain games for how samey they can feel, the unique ones can stand out so well, and more often than not, people have strong connections with messages and tones they can bring! As a streamer, and a caster, there are a lot of people I draw inspiration from as it is. Without Bowie_Alexander, I wouldn't have even thought to give casting a go, and that's without mentioning the streamers that made me start on Twitch from the previous interview. As long as people like what I do, give me feedback, and encourage me to do more, that excitement will never end!

QRM: What about the games industry frustrates or disappoints you? What are the challenges you’re currently facing in the industry?

Layla: It's easy to highlight the current lootbox and micro-transactions debate because it's just sad that we're in a time where companies still think that forcing us to pay for stuff that we may not even want, or to fast-track a game without having to really play it, is an acceptable way of living. It also is annoying to see that the companies who realise certain things are wrong, or need to delay a game to make sure it isn't a bugged filled mess like some big games have been lately, somehow makes investors lose confidence in them, and tries to make them look like the villains. I don't understand how they can like a game that just doesn't deliver on what it promised, over a game that is brilliant but had to be delayed to get it that way.

As for my own challenges, Twitch Partnership always feels like hard work. I mean, it is since you have to commit to the hours and balance your schedule around it. But if you miss a week due to things outside your control, getting the viewers back becomes a nightmare you just can't seem to wake up from. It's still a lot of fun though, and despite that, I still roll on with it! As for casting, it's still early days for me; I just need to keep getting my name and my voice out there!

QRM: If you could make one roadblock magically disappear from the games industry, what would you choose and why?

Layla: While I could mention the already discussed micro-transactions / loot box stuff that just needs to be cut down in size, I'm going to mention the cross-play issue that seem to somehow still be a thing these days! It felt like it took Sony such a long time to allow their users to play with their friends on other systems, and apparently, it's still happening to this day. We seriously should be in a timeline where we can play with our friends regardless of what system we have the game on! And that literally starts with the higher ups getting it into their skulls that yes, we actually want that!

(And yes, I will still mention the cut down on micro-transactions because who actually wants to have to pay for a SAVE FILE in their games?)

QRM: What message would you give to allies—both individuals and companies—who want to know how to support marginalised people better?

Layla: Talk to us! Seriously, we can only shout about what we do and what we want for so long. If you don't actually sit down, listen to us, and then start discussing with us where we can go from there, nothing is going to change. So many of us have ideas and stories that we wish to tell; and a lot of the times, it's not just for what we want, but what we know other people need to see/hear. And maybe, just MAYBE, stop having people shoot us down because the idea/game that we pitch is "so different that people won't buy it." Because that's the point! And if you are going to make a game that has some form of LGBTQ+ representation, don't assume you know how it works. Talk to us! Ask people who can actually tell you what it's like being whatever you're trying to put into the game. It really isn't that hard!

QRM: What message would you give to marginalised people who are working in games or would like to work in games?

Layla: Don't give up! Again, a very short answer, but it's true. There will be times where you begin to doubt yourself, that maybe there isn't a place for you here, that no one is interested unless your plot revolves around the most common stereotypical cliches. It just isn't true! Speak to those around you who may be struggling as well, or those who are in the process of making it there themselves. It can happen, and it'll be worth it in the end, mark my word! The 6 months from the end of the Grand Finals, I began to think that was going to be the only moment I got on a big casting stage; that being doubled because of comments that I remember seeing about my voice and being called a guy; which constantly strikes a chord on my dysphoria. But I got another session with Esports Scotland, and more friends were asking if I wanted to help out with their stuff too. Now, I'm in a position where I can provide ideas for not just this group, but to use this to show other tournament/league organisers and say I can do this, is there a spot for me here too? So as a caster, I say to anyone trying to get into esports... it can be done! It doesn't matter who you are, or anything like that! You want to compete, or call the shots? You can! Work at it, reach out, and don't let anyone say you can't! <3

QRM: If people want to find and support you and your work, how can they do that?

Layla: My website is here! This houses my Twitch channel, and links to my twitter and instagram pages; all under TamashiiKanjou! It all should be clickable, and if you want to message me, my Twitter DMs are open!