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Family motivated me to always stand strong: Zerah Gonsalves, the Lara Croft of Indian gaming

India's most famous gamer girl tells us how she converted her passion into a career

Santanu Basu 8 January 2018, 9:43 PM
T2 Interview
Zerah is one of the most popular Indian streamers on Twitch

Zerah is one of the most popular Indian streamers on Twitch Image: Zerah Gonsalves

Comparing Zerah Gonsalves aka Angela to Lara Croft is hardly a stretch. Much like Lara, who was perhaps the pioneer of female protagonists in video games, Zerah is, without any shred of a doubt, the leading lady of the Indian gaming community.

Zerah not only made her mark as a DOTA 2 player and shoutcaster in the Indian gaming arena — traditionally considered to be a male-dominated domain — but also carved out a unique position for herself as one of the first girl gamers of the community and a hugely popular gaming personality.

Zerah started off her career in gaming as a  shoutcaster for DOTA 2 but over time, she has shoutcasted for a variety of games and is one of the most sought-after Indian streamers on Twitch. She is currently working at Nodwin Gaming, Gurgaon, India.

T2 Online caught up with Zerah to know more about her journey through uncharted territories.

When did you first start gaming?

I started gaming at the age of 4-5. I spent a lot of time playing Mario, Tetris and Contra. But my real journey in gaming started when I was in Class X. I got into this fun game called DOTA 2, and from there on it became a very important part of my life.

What are the key necessities for a person to become professionally successful?

Passion, patience and consistency. You've got to be passionate about what you do, otherwise, you will give up easily or question why you are doing it. Once you have a clear idea about what drives your passion, then you got to understand the steps to be taken to convert that passion into a career choice. Over time, you will experience ups and downs — more of downs, but it's all part of the learning curve. You learn from them and that leads you to do the same thing in a different way, which teaches you the best possible way to do it. That's how you can be professionally successful.

Tell us about your first ever professional game.

It definitely was DOTA 2. I have been playing the game for 7-8 years now, and it's become a part of me growing up. As a gamer, the drive to win is always strong. I always like to do something that challenges my mind, DOTA did that to me. I have been a shoutcaster and analyst for the game for quite a while now, The mechanics and gameplay always keep changing and improving.

What are your key achievements?

My key achievements would be hosting India's biggest gaming Event GameGod, hosting the ESL India Premiership, shoutcasting some of the most renowned games for India Gaming Show 2017, becoming the brand ambassador for ZION RAM (a company that makes PC components), being featured and thanked by Xbox for being a part of their family on Women's Day and hosting the first ever Inter-University ESports Tournament, where women participated too.

Tell us about the ups and downs in your gaming career, and how did you cope with them?

It's always hard when the downs hit, cause when they do, they kind of demotivate you and sometimes you even want to give up. But I have a very supportive family, who have always believed in me and what I do. They have never stopped me from achieving my dreams, which has, in turn, motivated me to always stand strong. Then the ups come back and they really take you high. And it's always worth it. Also as a gamer, if I feel really low, I go back to what makes me the happiest, and that is playing the game. It does have a power of its own, cause it motivates you to not give up even when the game gets very hard. You have to apply the same thing in life situations as well.

Why did you choose DOTA 2?

I was introduced to World of Warcraft when I was in Chennai. One of my friends there used to sit at home and play. One day, I asked him to give me a copy of World of Warcraft and Dota was a fun map in that. It later became so big that they turned DOTA 2 into a game. Dota was brought in by Blizzard, and Valve recreated it and named it DOTA 2. The game had better graphics and a whole new look, which drew me to it.

How many hours should one practice daily?

If you ask world-class gamers, they will say 6-12 hours. But it also comes down to how much time do you have in hand. When I used to play a lot, I sometimes used to play for 18-20 hours straight. Gaming is like any other sport. The more you practice, the more you learn. The more you learn, the faster you master.

But on an average, gamers should play least 2-3 hours a day to stay in good form and keep their hand and eye mechanics on point.

When did you start streaming?

I started streaming about two years ago, just for the fun of it. I love gaming with my friends, and one day I just decided let's give it a shot. A lot of people used to think I was a guy playing (laughs),  so I was, like, 'alright let's see what they say once they know I am a girl. Afterall, maybe then they will not think I am fake or that someone else is playing from my account'. Of course, that was ages ago, when being a girl in the Industry was a taboo. Times have changed a lot since then.

Is watching any game necessary to ace in the professional e-gaming field?

It's not a necessity. The thing with watching others play, especially world-class professional players play tournaments or their live streams, is that you learn faster. You watch their mechanics and their gameplay, which gives you a better Idea about where you are going wrong or what you could have done better in a similar position. Tips and tricks are always beneficial.

Which is your most memorable match?

I was playing the Battle Cup, which is an event in DOTA 2. My team had played it thrice before that and had lost in the semis and finals. And I still remember the fourth time I played it and we won. It gave me a sense of pride and joy knowing that after all the times I thought I couldn't do it, I finally had. It meant the world to know I had finally accomplished a milestone and a goal I had set at the beginning of the event.

But if we talk about the most memorable match I have watched, It would be the DOTA 2 International 2016. I had gone to Seattle,  where the best teams from around the world battle it out for a prize pool of 20 million dollars. There was a game where the US played China — Evil Geniuses vs EHOME. This was the first time I watched some of my favourite gamers live right in front of me and playing some of the best DOTA I have ever watched.

What do you like doing for leisure?

Hahaha, playing! I hardly get to play nowadays, work's become pretty hectic. Sometimes people ask me 'you are anyway doing what you love, you must be always playing games'. Well, no I hardly get to play much nowadays. So sometimes when I do get a day off, I sit back, relax, go online on Discord, where I always have my buddies available, and play a few rounds of DOTA 2 or Counter-Strike.

But apart from that, I love reading books and checking out new destinations I would love to visit since I love travelling.

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