Evelien Smolders Turned a Passion for Gaming Into Streaming Success

Laid back, but ever changing

Chill is the vibe, and smoldering is the temp!

Decorated in a collection of stylized tattoos and accompanied by the percussions of lo-fi beat music, Evelien Smolders is the woman behind the uber-successful Twitch and YouTuber channels, GabSmolders. The gaming content creator debuted in 2014. Seven years later, she's still trekking along the path more successful than ever. 

Streamer Evelien Smolders, aka GabSmolders

Accumulating a massive audience nearly 1 million strong through her laidback disposition and characteristically chill gameplay, Smolders is a gaming sensation. Audiences flock to watch her dive into a soothing simulator or hop on the latest haunting horror game. All eyes are on GabSmolders, and she's white-hot with anticipation.

"[My channels have] grown bigger than I anticipated," she said in a phone interview with Lifewire about her online presence. "I'm just so happy to be here. I'm making a living hanging out with people, playing games, and being myself. What else do you want? I'm so content where I am. I don't really need anything else."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Evelien Smolders
  • Age: 33
  • Located: Brighton, England   
  • Random delight: Gaming isn't cheap. Growing up in the Netherlands, Evalien financed her passion for videos games via a paper route. She used her first saved paycheck to buy her first non-Nintendo console: a PlayStation 2.
  • Motto: "In with the good sh-t, out with the bullsh-t."

A Smoldering Start

Smolders was born and raised in quaint towns in the Netherlands as the youngest of four. Their father worked in construction, and her mom was an after-school educator who taught them the importance of responsibility. Gaming was one of her first loves. She recalls spending nights playing the NES at the age of 4 before graduating to the Nintendo 64 a few years later. 

"I was secretly getting up at night playing Mario 64 until my hands were cramped into the shape of the controller, which is ergonomically very bad," she laughs. "That's where it all started."

Japanese survival horror series Fatal Frame would impact her life beyond measure. It started her decades-long love affair with Japanese culture and language. She eventually attained her master's in Japanese and began her career as a project manager at a translation agency.

Smolders said Fatal Frame also became the catalyst for her noteworthy ascent in the digital sphere.  

YouTube was the content creator's first online endeavor. Focusing on her passion for translation and Japanese media, Smolders' first successful series was translating the fifth installment of the Fatal Frame series in a collection of playthroughs for English-speaking audiences.

A screenshot of streamer Gabby Smolders aka GabSmolders on a livestream.

Her passion for Japanese and translation directly fed into her content creation, and it all culminated in immediate success.

"Women in gaming are more accepted now, but when I was a teenager, it definitely wasn't the case... I didn't have anyone I could share [gaming] with...so I turned to YouTube," she said. "Starting my channel and having people genuinely be so happy that I was translating this game and making it more accessible to them was so nice. To find other people who were just excited with me was the first rush."

Gabbers Assemble!

Two years into her career, she started live-streaming on Twitch after advice from fellow streamer TheRPGMinx, citing the benefits of having a diverse stream of income. Enter the Gabbers. They are Smolders' most ardent fans and supporters and have multiplied by the thousands.

Described as "happy little accidents," they are an affectionate bunch of chill, mature super fans who represent the result of years of virtual connection.   

For Smolders, 2020 was the great shift. Her streaming numbers exploded, and her audience transformed. She attributes the switch to not only a change in her approach, focusing on more "chill games" like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, but more broadly, a change in gaming culture. 

If you have a passion for something, even if people say it's dumb and you should give up, it's worth sticking to.

It became a more welcoming space for women to participate in, both as creators and viewers. She recounts that her channel initially skewed upwards of 80% male, while now she boasts a female-dominated audience—about 53% of her viewers—according to internal numbers she shared with Lifewire. 

Smolders hopes to switch things up a little bit for the future, however. Trying her hand at more non-gaming content is where she sees her next foray as a content creator.   

Having all but realized her dreams, Smolder now is looking for different outlets to challenge her. From dreaming about gaming localization to having a slew of channels the size of a large city, she is the epitome of bold victory.  

"You should not be afraid to stick to your interests. Growing up, it was definitely unusual for a woman to be so into games, but I stayed my course my entire life and it led to where I am now," she said. "So, if you have a passion for something, even if people say it's dumb and you should give up, it's worth sticking to."

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