- Women still seem to perform unfavorably in professional gaming, especially when compared to men
- Despite the industry working to make change happen, it still seems to be far away
- The best solution seems to be for people to be more welcoming and refrain from gatekeeping gaming
While change is being made, women are still in highly unfavorable positions in the world of professional gaming.
Women’s Struggle in the Gaming Industry
Despite the gaming community being considered as one of the most inclusive ones, there are still some severe problems that prevent women from reaching their full potential.
Taking a look at esportsearnings.com, a site dedicated to compiling a list of esports players by their tournament earnings, one would pretty quickly notice the absence of women, especially in the top ranks. While dozens of male players have earned millions by their skill, the first female player on the list, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, doesn’t appear until 367th place with the more modest earnings of less than half a million ($400,000).
Putting things into perspective, only two other female esports athletes have earned six-figures throughout their careers, those being the Hearthstone champion Xiao Meng “Liooon” Li, sitting in the 760th place in esportsearnings.com’s list and Katherine “Mystik” Gunn, who ranks at the 1,478th place.
With this in mind, it turns out that for each woman making a six-figure from esports, there are hundreds of men making more.
The disparity in how males and females are treated extends to non-professional games as well. According to research, players tend to be less cooperative with female teammates and this bars women from achieving high performance. With women being unable to achieve high ranks, very few actually reach an esports level.
Even when we look into the broader gaming world and take streamers into account, it turns out that women tend to get paid less. As a reference, the recent Twitch leak showed that only 3 of the 100 best-paid streamers were women.
Taking a look at the wider industry, not many women take salaried positions either. Many players are unwelcoming to female peers or coaches, as evidenced by OWL coach Molly “Avalla” Kim.
Furthermore, many women working at game developing companies also encounter problems with harassment, which is more than affirmed by the recent scandal with Activision Blizzard that led to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit.
A Change is Being Made Albeit at a Slow Rate
It turns out that despite gaming slowly moving towards a more inclusive future, it isn’t quite there yet. Many organizations have launched various initiatives to support women in both player and industry positions.
Riot has launched the Game Changers series for both VALORANT and League of Legends. The initiatives provide female players with training and coaching from professional athletes and allow them to test their skills in professional games.
The Misfits Gaming Group, on the other hand, recently unveiled the Women of Misfits initiative that seeks to empower female workers in the broader gaming industry.
There are some other initiatives that have been around for a while, as the Girl Gamer esports festival. In an interview with The Verge, its organizer, Fernando Pereira, said that he sees his initiative as a stepping stone to allowing girls to enter the broader world of esports. He hopes that when this happens, women-only leagues will become obsolete.
2021 has seen several new women-only VALORANT teams, in huge part thanks to Riot’s efforts. Although people used to be very opposed to the announcement of female teams, at least now the negativism seems to have at least somewhat decreased.
Some have proposed more drastic measures like the full regulation of online gaming content, chats, etc. but such measures risk making people antagonistic and achieving the exact opposite effect.
In any case, absolute equality may still be far away, but many leagues and organizations have demonstrated that they aren’t indifferent to the inclusion of women in esports. There is some serious effort being made and each year more events and initiatives try to balance things out.
However, true change stems from the individual, so we all, as gamers, can strive to do better, stop judging others for their personal features, and encourage our peers to do the same.