This year at the Game Awards, the coveted Content Creator of the Year award went to Ironmouse, a fan-favorite VTuber. It marks the first time that an animated character has won the award, showing how expansive the streaming world can be.
A movement originating in Japan, “VTuber” means “virtual YouTuber,” though the genre has spread to other streaming sites like Twitch, where Ironmouse has 1.8 million followers and is the most-subscribed female streamer. VTubers often resemble anime characters, and the creators build their virtual personas by using motion-capture or AR face-tracking technology to embody their avatar. Though VTubers have been around for about a decade, they gained a boost in popularity at the onset of the pandemic, when the VTuber agency HoloLive launched its English-language division, catering to an expanded audience in the West. As the technology to make a VTuber becomes more accessible, the streaming genre only continues to grow.
Though the VTuber phenomenon is already widespread and beloved, the “fun loving demon” Ironmouse’s win at the Game Awards lends the genre even more legitimacy.
“Ironmouse couldn’t be here tonight, because Ironmouse is animated, and sadly, we’re not in the Matrix yet,” the host of the show said upon announcing Ironmouse’s victory.
Ironmouse’s intrigue doesn’t end with her innovative persona. Though we don’t know the identity of the creator behind Ironmouse, she has revealed that she is from Puerto Rico, and she is chronically ill with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) and a lung condition. At times, her chronic illness has left her bedridden, she told the Washington Post, but being a VTuber allows her to access a rich online world where she can be anyone who she wants to be — even a pastel pink-clad gamer escaped from hell. Last year, she streamed for 31 days straight as part of an annual “subathon” event, where viewers could pledge money to keep her online; she took on the streaming equivalent of an ultramarathon again this year, raising money for the Immune Deficiency Foundation.
“I have no words to describe how I am feeling right now,” Ironmouse wrote on X after her victory was announced. “I am in utter shock. Thank you all so much for changing my life.”