Natasha Zinda, known online as Zombaekillz, has only been in the gaming world for a year, but she's already leveled up as a key player in making streaming a kinder and safer space.
Zinda is a streamer and content creator on Twitch with a passion for giving back and calling out trolls or disrespectful comments on her streams. In an industry primarily dominated by white men, she said there's a lot that needs to be done in the streaming space to make it more inclusive for all types of gamers, and it's her mission to make that happen.
“It's definitely a space under renovation,” Zinda told Ach5 over the phone. “There's a change that we want to see in the space for women and women of color and other marginalized groups like LGBTQIA, disabled people… there's so much change that needs to happen.”
Name: Natasha Zinda
From: Natasha lives in Jackson, Mississippi, and was introduced to gaming at a young age. She played classic titles from Atari and played Mario games with her parents, who were gamers themselves.
Random Delight: One of her favorite games is Cloud Gardens because she finds it beautiful and relaxing to play.
Key quote or motto to live by: “The foundation of my radical kindness comes from this: ‘My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.' - Maya Angelou.”
A relatively new player in the streaming world, Zombaekillz has garnered 21.9K followers on her channel in just the past year of streaming. Zinda originally started turning to gaming more when she was diagnosed with Lupus and was living with constant chronic pain.
“Playing video games took my mind off of the pain that was becoming an ever-pressing thing,” she said. “I started becoming more involved in my games and I wasn't paying attention to how much pain I was in.”
“Don't ever back down. Don't make yourself small… continue to take up space.”
While playing games online, she also started having conversations with other players and calling out and/or educating people whenever they made derogatory comments.
“I found a lot of times people were very receptive to those conversations,” she said.
“People will [make comments] with the intent of being volatile, but sometimes [they just slip] up, and they are just ignorant. There's a time and place for education, and sometimes it's time for people to screw off.”
Surprisingly, she said, some of the deepest and most meaningful conversations she's had have been while playing others in Dead by Daylight, a multiplayer horror game.
“There must be something about the fear the game makes you feel that makes people more open to discussions,” she said.
Online, she's educating other players, but offline, Zinda takes the money she raises through her channel and puts it back into her local community.
“The more your platform grows, the more your community is your responsibility,” she said. “The revolution is not going to be on Twitch—Twitch can help it, but you need boots on the ground.”
Zinda focuses on feeding the homeless in her area, donating books to the local prison, and working with local charities such as Draw a Smile, a nonprofit in Jackson that works on helping food insecurity in the area.
“Having a platform, I can turn eyes onto things and possibly get more support for things that I care about,” she said.
Of course, one of the things Zinda is passionate about is making the streaming space safer for more people, which is why she works with Radically Kind Gamers to create more kind spaces on the internet.
Zinda said while she is deeply rooted in the present, she sees her future in streaming to continue growing her channel and continuing to give back.
“I like where I am right now,” she said. “I've achieved Twitch partner in under a year, so I'm enjoying where I am now.”
She said she's already received so many messages from people who have reached out to her, saying they have never seen somebody that looks like them on the front page of Twitch.
“I don't really have [someone] that I'm looking at to compare myself to, but I want to be a person that is seen and is respected and has equity in this space as a Black woman,” Zinda said.
For those wanting to start creating content in the streaming space, Zinda has one important piece of advice.
“Don't ever back down. Don't make yourself small… continue to take up space,” she said.