There’s always been a stereotype that video games and esports are only for men. That trend is quickly changing thanks to young gamers like our sister.
Can girls play esports? While there’s still a lot of work to be done for female gamers to feel comfortable and supported within esports the future does look bright. Whether they want to stream or compete in tournaments, there are opportunities.
There needs to be a change in mindset within the esports industry about how to accurately represent their female audience. Thankfully there’s a lot of smart people and organizations making sure everyone has a chance to compete.
While esports sells itself as competition for everyone in the world; there is still a problem with gender diversity.
Yes, people are trying to make the sport more inclusive, but young female gamers are still having to face specific problems when building their career.
Part of the problem is the mindset that video games are only for the young man in high school and college. The general public thinks this is the only audience for video games.
Let’s take a look at some of the fascinating stats about female gamers and their habits.
- Women accounted for 44 billion dollars of gaming sales across the globe in 2016
- 25% of viewership for esports in 2018 was female in the United States
- Less than 5% of pro gamers are actually women
So what do these numbers tell us?
That women love video games, they are buying and watching them a lot. But they either don’t feel welcome or don’t feel like they can compete in esports tournaments.
David Smith, founder, and CFO of Women in Games had this to say about the current state of the esports industry and female gamers.
“The existing, largely male audience is not large enough to support all the companies who want to participate.”
Meaning if esports wants to be a multibillion-dollar industry they have got to diversify their audience.
There is a problem!
Lack of Representation
The general public thinks video games are only for men and that they should be the only ones competing.
Thanks to this mindset there’s a distinct lack of female representation within certain video games.
While gaming developers are fixing this problem, it’s still an issue for female gamers to cope with.
If there is a female character within a video game, it’s assumed all female gamers have to use that specific character.
For instance, in the incredibly popular video game, Super Smash Brothers there is a character named Princess Peach. So when women compete in Super Smash Brothers tournaments, most people will automatically assume they have to use Princess Peach.
I’m not saying she isn’t a good character, but that it’s unfair that women have to use a girl character.
When women do try to compete either online or in live tournaments, they encounter many challenges.
When competing online a lot of women decide not even to use voice chat because they don’t want to be harassed or judged for their gender.
Unfortunately, there are gamers out there who make crude comments and will straight up refuse to play against women.
They believe that women can’t be good at video games so why even waste their time competing against them.
I am not ashamed to admit, but I know a few different women that would absolutely destroy me in any video game. They are just more skilled, and I would barely be able to give them a challenge.
Sometimes competing in live tournaments can be even more difficult for young female gamers.
At most tournaments, women are embarrassingly outnumbered by men. This makes it so overwhelming and intimidating that many times they decide not even to go.
DID YOU KNOW?
Seyeon ‘Geguri’ Kim is the only female player in the Overwatch League.
Female gamers constantly feel undervalued no matter how skilled they are.
Tournament organizers are trying hard to make their events more welcoming for women. They’re putting policies in place so that gamers are held accountable for any actions or words they say.
For female gamers to really make a difference, they have to compete live in front of audiences. This is where most of the significant teams’ scout for players to join them.
To test your skills and make sure you are good enough even to play professionally you have to enter these tournaments.
Look at My Skills
Any gamer no matter their age, gender, or nationality wants merely to be recognized as a phenomenal player. Professional female esports athletes want to be known as just good gamers.
Beyond just wanting to be recognized as a good gamer they don’t want to be judged based on their looks alone.
There’s; unfortunately, a toxic environment within esports where female gamers are more judged for their appearance than they are their skills.
CHECK IT OUT
China was being criticized for training ex-models at video games so they could create an esports team.
Certain companies and organizations have even come under fire for only choosing female athletes for their looks.
Female streamers are also having to fight for viewers to respect their talents. Their chats will often be filled with very inappropriate comments about their looks.
Female gamers are also significantly underpaid compared to their male counterparts.
They get significantly less income through their sponsorships, ad work, and tournament prize money.
CHECK IT OUT
Here’s a list of the top earning female esports athletes.
The top male esports athletes have been known to earn millions of dollars with plenty more making upwards of $500,000.
In comparison, the very best female esports athletes are only earning around $200,000.
Lack of Respect from Teammates
The last major issue female gamers continually have to do deal with is actually with their own esports athlete colleagues.
It all goes back to that mindset that only men are good at video games. Thanks to this mindset so many current esports male athletes have a hard time respecting female players.
So when organizations are building esports teams, they occasionally have a hard time intermixing men with women.
The male players will occasionally ignore the female and not listen to their advice during a tournament.
Which obviously means that teams will lose because you need to have good solid communication.
Another specific issue with intermixing genders on esports teams is when they have access to a gaming house
For those of you that may not have read our previous articles, esports organizations will put their athletes into gaming houses so they can learn to play and work together. It helps them bond and keeps them accountable.
The issue comes when you have gamers of different genders. Sometimes it can make the environment feel uncomfortable or awkward putting them in the same house.
It’s just not a healthy environment.
Again these are all very frustrating and challenging issues for esports to overcome.
The esports industry has to retrain all our athletes’ mindsets and the general perception of esports itself. Thankfully there’s a lot of work being done to make esports more accessible for women.
Making a Difference
There’s a variety of people and organizations trying to provide solutions for young female gamers to turn esports into a career.
One of the better solutions for young female gamers recently was the dynamic rise of Twitch. Thanks to their streaming service young female players can post their live feeds and gain a substantial following.
As we all know the internet obviously has toxic elements, but many strong female gamers are making a name for themselves using Twitch.
To help further these streaming efforts organizations like Misscliks were created.
The women at Misscliks host a YouTube and Twitch channel to provide support for all female gamers. Their videos show them competing at tournaments, attending conferences, and talking about the industry in general.
DID YOU KNOW?
The top female streamer on Twitch is KittyPlaysGames with over 1 million followers.
These women are providing excellent resources and our wonderful role models for people like our sister hoping to make esports a career.
Women Kicking Butt
When building this website, we wanted to find professional female gamers to inspire our sister to compete.
You also have much larger organizations like Women In Games. They are a nonprofit trying to support current female athletes and also try to recruit young women for the future.
They have a lot of different programs in place to support young female gamers. They’ve been trying to provide a voice so that everyone can be better represented within the industry.
They have a more unique program that relates back to our conversation about streaming. Women In Games have started a grant to support female streamers, so they continue to build their brand and their following.
It has to be so encouraging for women to see organizations like Women In Games showing them support as they try to break through the industry.
Female Only Tournaments
The esports industry is trying to show support for female gamers by creating specific tournaments for women only.
UK game developer SimBin created the first ever women only a sports car racing competition.
SimBin is well known for their racing games which is why they’ve committed to making a racing only tournament.
They want to create a fun environment for female gamers where they feel connected and empowered.
You also have a very large event called Girl Gamer Esports Festival.
It’s an annual event that celebrates every component of female gamers. The event lasts 3 days, features 8 pro teams, 40 Players and 19 speakers.
The top female gamers in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends will be there competing.
It’s so great to see such a large and well-organized event put together for young female gamers. I’m sure in the next few years there will be even more of these events being organized
I’m taking special note of these events to tell our parents so they can take our sister. If she really wants to be a professional gamer, these are the events she needs to attend.
Fortnite to the Rescue
One of the most popular games right now within the United States is Fortnite.
It’s quickly taken the country by storm and esports organizations are creating specific teams for Fortnite.
Gen.G, one of the premier esports organizations, has created an all-female Fortnite team!
They are phenomenal gamers and are quickly racking up wins.
Women on the Corporate Side
One of the people responsible for getting this all-female team off the ground was famous esports athlete Kristen ‘KittyPlays’ Valnicek.
Kristen started out as your typical Twitch streamer and competitor. After competing for a while, she transitioned to the corporate side of esports and has done so much good.
I really enjoyed reading Kristen’s story of how she became a success outside of the competition side and is demanding respect from her peers.
She’s the new head of gaming initiatives at Gen.G! Meaning she has a lot of say about how they are competing and organizing their teams.
Hopefully, under her leadership, there will be even more opportunities for female gamers.
One of the reasons she’s pushed so hard for Fortnite is she believes it’s going to be one of the defining games for female athletes.
It’s become popular at the perfect time for female gamers to dominate the scene and be considered the best.
Beyond Fortnite and her role with Gen.G Kristen also started a channel on Twitch to showcase female streamers.
She’s giving them the opportunity to show their skills in front of her vast network and audience. It’s an opportunity many of these gamers wouldn’t necessarily get on their own without her support.
Not to continue to praise Gen.G but they are doing a lot to change the esports culture regarding female gamers.
Beyond giving these athletes an opportunity to compete in esports, they’re acting to change the toxic culture amongst its competitors.
There’s still a large portion of esports male athletes that are unreceptive or unwelcoming to female gamers.
One of the ways male gamers are hurting the sport is through their social media channels. Many players will post comments they will immediately regret. It’s often filled with slang or inappropriate comments about people.
DID YOU KNOW?
70% of the United States population uses some sort of social media.
To make sure their athletes are being smart and responsible not only on social media but within life itself Gen.G has brought in NBA legend Chris Bosh to serve as a player’s management advisor.
Chris Bosh always had an excellent reputation on and off the court and knew how to use social media smartly.
He’s making sure all gamers male and female know how to use their newfound success and fame properly.
Fellow esports team Immortals are also doing their part to make sure their athletes are educated on how to handle themselves professionally properly.
These young men and women are quickly thrown into the spotlight often without the necessary training they need to conduct themselves.
Win their Respect
All of these initiatives, organizations, and seminars are all great but at the end of the day to really make a difference female gamers have to win at tournaments.
The easiest way to silence a crowd is to show them how good you really are.
Her highest achievement has been actually winning Overwatch League matches and tournaments throughout her whole career as there GM.
She’s been brilliant at finding the right players to build a winning organization. They will be dominant for the foreseeable future under her guidance.
People are getting so creative in their efforts to support female gamers!
There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m proud to see the progress we’ve made. I only hope our sister can continue to push esports even further!
Should I become a streamer or a competitor? Do both! There’s nothing that says you can’t have a successful streaming channel and compete in tournaments. Most of the highest earning esports athletes rely on both career paths to make a stable income.
Featured Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/148375628@N03/