Why Every Esports Fan Should Know About ‘Women in Games’


 The gaming industry has long had an issue with gender representation. Historically, female players made up just a small proportion of the overall gaming population. In more recent years, this trend has been bucked significantly. As of 2020, more than 40 percent of gamers based in the United States were women. The percentage share was even higher elsewhere in the world, with nearly half of all gamers based in Asia being women.

While this trend is reassuring, there are other issues within the industry that need to be addressed. The male gaze is still a problematic wall that needs to be torn down. Admittedly, female video game characters are now more well-rounded and realistic than ever, but hyper-sexualized renderings geared toward heterosexual male players still endure. What’s more, away from player demographics, women are far less represented behind the scenes. In 2021, a mere 30 percent of game developers were women.

Women in Games

Thankfully, several organizations have arisen in recent years to address the issue of a lack of diversity and female authority in the gaming industry. Women in Games is arguably one of the biggest hitters in this area. This UK-based organization was founded back in 2009, with an initial focus on driving recruitment of women into the video game sector. This recruitment drive was taken to new heights in 2015 when the company unveiled its first full-scale mentoring scheme. By 2018, Women in Games had established itself as a real force for change. Other companies were also taking note, with social media giant Facebook committing to partnership deal to launch the Women in Gaming Initiative.

Women in Games has also secured partnerships with several companies positioned squarely in the video games sector. It currently boasts key partners with Dovetail Games, as well as Rockstar Games, the developer behind such blockbuster titles like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. These partnerships not only demonstrate the credibility of the non-profit organization, they also give female talent the chance to carve out careers working with some of the most established and successful developers currently working in the industry.

In addition to annual conferences, Women in Games also hosts an annual awards ceremony, celebrating the best in female talent. However, this annual award ceremony came in for some criticism in 2018 when a male recipient took home the prize for best presenter.

The Esports Sector

Although playing demographics are becoming increasingly diverse and more women than ever are working behind the scenes, one key sector that’s sadly lacking in diversity is esports. Professional esports players do indeed exist, but a quick check of online platforms like 1337PRO give you an indication of how poorly represented they are in major events.

It’s estimated that as little as one percent of all professional esports players are women. Even those that are actively engaged with the industry in a professional capacity earn relatively little compared to their male counterparts. As of 2021, the most successful female esports players in the world have yet to pocket career winnings beyond six figures. This is in stark contrast to men, with the most prolific male esports professionals able to secure prize pools of more than a million US dollars in any given year.

Going forward, organizations like Women in Games are going to be crucial in ensuring female esports players have their time in the sun. With initiatives like Women in Games shining a spotlight on female gaming talent, the more likely it is that sponsors will throw capital behind women to help them penetrate the last truly male-dominated corner of the video game landscape.

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