Interview with Twitch gaming star Rage Darling

Jess King, aka Rage Darling

Jess King, aka Rage Darling - Credit: Archant

Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted star Jess King — or Rage Darling, as she’s known online — on growing up, gaming and the impact of being on the show

‘Hey! How’s it going? What have you guys been up to?’ Jess King says to the people about to watch her play Animal Crossing: New Horizons in real time on the online livestreaming platform Twitch. Jess, whose online name is Rage Darling, is a familiar face on the BBC documentary series Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted, which profiles young Welsh entrepreneurs making money in a range of unconventional ways. For the 21-year-old, who grew up in Wrexham but now lives in Manchester, that means Twitch, where she broadcasts herself playing video games, chats to those watching and earns cash via viewer subscriptions. She even has an army of fans, who are called Pleborians.

Gaming has been a part of Jess’ life since she was a child. Aged around five or six, she used to play on her family’s Playstation console, and as she got older, she began playing the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, borrowing her sister’s account and playing with her. From then, gaming ‘just sort of spiralled into this really big pastime’. ‘I moved around quite a lot when I was younger, which I think is why gaming was such a big thing to me because it was the only thing that was constant,’ she tells me. ‘I could always game, wherever I lived.’

It was that interest that ultimately led to Jess appearing on Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted, with the content creator being put forward for the show through her involvement in the Welsh Gaming Network, an organisation whose primary focus concerns building a gaming community in Wales. The gamer, who has appeared on both series of the programme, says she ‘really enjoyed’ filming for its first and second seasons and that the show has ‘definitely made [her profile as a gamer] more professional’.

‘My reputation has really grown since,’ she reflects. ‘There have been a lot of people that have come up to me, telling me: “I’ve seen you on that programme” or “Are you that Rage Darling gamer?” and people online as well following me. And I’ve had messages from parents saying: “Ah, my son’s really into gaming”, “you’re really cool”, “what convention are you going to next so we can meet you?” and things like that — like, really wholesome messages from people.’

But Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted, which first aired in 2017, isn’t the only opportunity gaming has given Jess. It’s allowed her to meet new people and establish new friends, and it’s also meant she’s travelled Europe, visiting places including Berlin and Amsterdam. She’s hosted an esports TV show, undertaken ‘casting’ (where you commentate over a videogame) with the game Minecraft, presented onstage and tried out interviewing. As Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted showed, she works with computer hardware and PC components firm Scan, and she’s also a gaming ambassador for Instagram — a role which sees her trial new features before they go live and report on trends.

Jess started livestreaming on Twitch — where she had over 15,000 followers at the time of writing — in 2016. She recalls: ‘I was doing a lot of videogame playthroughs on YouTube, but they weren’t getting a lot of views. My audience were really into beauty, makeup and hair, and then suddenly I just sort of threw gaming into the mix. No one was interested, which is to be expected.’ A friend noticed, and he suggested Jess livestream her gaming, showing her Twitch. Remembering the first time she livestreamed on the platform, she says: ‘I streamed to a few viewers, and it just kind of went from there, really.’

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But it’s YouTube, where Jess also had a cool 10,000+ followers as this article was being written, that’s responsible for the name Rage Darling. One day, the gamer and her friend were sat on her bed, attempting — in Jess’ own words — ‘to come up with edgy YouTube names’. ‘Two of my favourite songs came up and there was one lyric in one song and one lyric in the other song that really stood out, and I put them together and I was like: “Oh my God, this is awesome”,’ she recalls. ‘And then from there, it just became my name.’

Sexism is an issue which has been brought up repeatedly with regard to the gaming industry. Sadly, Jess has not been immune to this problem, having faced it when she was getting into gaming. ‘There were certain scenarios where I didn’t really want to talk online because as soon as you said something, you’d just get bombarded with harassment or abusive comments — and it used to be like that for a really long while,’ she recalls.

Fortunately, this is less so now. ‘I think gaming’s becoming more public and it’s becoming more normalised,’ Jess says. ‘People are realising that you don’t have to be a guy to enjoy gaming and that actually, it’s something that everyone can enjoy. If anyone ever really says something sexist or misogynistic towards a woman publicly, a lot of people will jump on it now and defend that person, which is really nice to see.’

With so many achievements under her belt, despite being only 21, it doesn’t look like it will be game over for Jess’ career in esports anytime soon.

See Rage Darling on Twitch and YouTube