How Nikatine Became a Voice for Trans People on Twitch

Changing the platform one performance at a time

Witty, sardonic, and just a tad bit addictive. The Nikatine brand is irresistible. Veronica Ripley, the name behind the brand, started her streaming career on Twitch playing Overwatch and "nerdy building games" like the indie space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program.

Veronica Riley - Twitch Streamer Nikatine

Veronica Ripley

Today, she is an all-around streamer dipping into RPGs, tabletop roleplaying, and the emerging political sphere on the streaming giant. She has made a career out of being a gamer, and she’s ready to take the world just as easily as she conquered Twitch.  

"I remember thinking wow people go online to stream video games like a show. I was intrigued," she told Lifewire in a phone interview.

"I didn’t think it would happen, but here I am. I just want to be creative. I want to express myself creatively, whether that’s in roleplay or creating an interesting political discussion."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Veronica Ripley
  • From: Born in the quaint beach town of Monterey, California, off the coast of the similarly named Monterey Bay, Veronica’s childhood was divided between the dual homes of her divorced parents. Her multicultural upbringing was helmed by her Latina mother, an at-home daycare worker, and white father, a local politician and architect.   
  • Random delight: She was introduced to the world of gaming by her father. They built her first PC when she was a 10-year-old, when she learned the ins and outs of local networking to play Starcraft and Red Alert. She and her father still have a game night every Wednesday.
  • Key quote or motto to live by: "Very safe, and very normal."

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Growing up in the '90s, Ripley had a special connection to video games. Outside of bonding with her father, they became an outlet for her creative angst in the monochromatic, idyllic suburban world of Monterey, California.

Shaped by artsy, cerebral dramas like Being John Malkovich and American Beauty, Ripley’s childhood between two homes was a perfectly pleasant experience.

The temperate climate of Monterey and monotony found her seeking excitement elsewhere. As a natural creative, she found sanctuary in acting and music. Her sights were set on Tinseltown.

I’ve tried very hard to be the kind of streamer that I would’ve needed to see as a kid... You know, a positive portrayal of a trans person that can be happy and successful,

After high school, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. She found a bit of success both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, but she eventually found herself back in Monterrey after the expectations of acting life spiraled into debilitating dissatisfaction.

"I realized while I was in Los Angeles that every step closer I got to succeeding as an actor in LA was getting me a step further away from my goals as a trans person to transition," she said detailing her experience dealing with the physical expectations of Hollywood.

Her trans identity had been something she hid up until that point. She describes losing herself in her creative endeavors to take her mind off, what she saw as, a "guilty secret." Playing video games was her little escape: a fantasy world where she could be anything or anyone she wanted.

"I always looked at games as an outlet for expression. For a trans person, video games can be an incredible way to express some desires you might have related to gender and presentation, I found myself getting lost in games and I still do," she said while laughing.

Ripley started her medical transition soon after returning home from Hollywood, and from there enrolled in college and earned a degree in audio engineering.

A portrait of Twitch Streamer, Veronica Ripley - Nikatine.
Veronica Ripley

Her life would take an unexpected turn when she discovered she could channel her natural theater chops into digital content creation. The former tech wiz said she quit her job in the industry after just nine months of streaming and garnering enough engagement to financially support herself.

Transmission Gaming

Initially, she found companionship and camaraderie among other transgender gamers on the platform through the now-defunct Twitch Communities. The self-organizing discovery tool allowed her to connect to other streamers on the booming platform, and influenced her to start her own community hub: Transmission Gaming.

"I wanted to play Overwatch with people and kept getting awful people on in-game voice chat who would constantly misgender me," she said.

"So, finding the trans community online was such a huge benefit to me because, suddenly, there were a bunch of other people who were also going through the same thing."

Transmission Gaming has soared into more than just a Discord server for trans gamers to connect and find gaming partners. As a community, they have hosted charity events and concurrently exist as a 63-member Twitch Team that hosts a slew of transgender gamers.

Over the years, Ripley has been a chameleon in the streaming world: shifting from genre to genre and bringing her dedicated fans with her. She has contorted herself in a way few streamers have. She epitomizes the multifaceted, nuanced person many often forget is behind the streamer persona.

Taking Over Twitch

Now, she’s delved into the controversial world of Twitch politics, dedicating a portion of her weekly content to "Just Chatting" streams, centered around the political and cultural machinations of modern American society.

I didn’t think it would happen, but here I am! I just want to be creative. I want to express myself creatively whether that’s in roleplay or creating an interesting political discussion.

Ripley emphasizes the Twitch brand, and that’s why in 2019 they made her an official Twitch Ambassador, alongside 36 other creators who exemplify what the streaming giant is hoping to curate as a brand on the platform. Out of the platform’s 27,000 Partners, only 83 have been designated official Twitch Ambassadors, including Nikatine.

Ripley is noticeably less reticent to assume the role model title, compared to her contemporaries, who often steer clear of any undue responsibility or burden. Instead, she sees it as a kind of cosmic duty.

"I’ve tried very hard to be the kind of streamer that I would’ve needed to see as a kid or when I was going through transition. You know, a positive portrayal of a trans person that can be happy and successful," she said.

"On a place like Twitch where content is king, sometimes taking risks is a beautiful thing."

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