As esports become more widely recognized and gaming competitions reach a global scale, players of varying ages are taking the pastime to a whole new level. In esports, different players can master completely different skill sets from game to game, ranging from sports-based competition like in NBA 2k, to war simulations, racing, and more. Tournaments with teams from all over boast large monetary prizes for winners, and teams train and compete to enter and take home the gold. As the industry has grown, conversations about diversity and inclusion have arisen, and the role women play in games, as well as behind the controller, is crucial.

 In Germany, women make up 47% of individuals who play video games at least casually, and worldwide women have taken up major roles on both female-only and mixed gender teams. However, many are hesitant to spring into the esports and gaming world, for fear of sexism and lack of representation in the arena.

Gender-specific socialization in esports is a major factor when it comes to both sports and gaming. The stereotype that “video games” are an activity with a more male connotation has been around since the creation of digital gaming. This trend has declined, however stereotypical role models have become ingrained in the culture of gaming. Despite the fact that nearly half of computer game players are women, the professional gaming scene is heavily male-dominated. The stereotypes in the gaming world can be likened to pre-Title IX times when sports were marketed towards men more than women, with efforts today still seen for women to gain equal pay and equal time on major sports news networks. 

To combat the inequalities in the online sports world, many female-run platforms and online communities have been established. Women can network, build teams, and refine their gaming skills together. Game developers are making more concerted efforts to incorporate female avatars as not just an option for players, but main characters in the game. Companies can bring more variety into their franchises by sponsoring female competitors, partnering with women’s networks, and combating gender-specific socialization. Women represent half of many companies’ consumers and followers, and the full potential for female gamers to be more incorporated into the industry remains untapped.

To learn more about this, register for Tech Up for Women’s webinar on July 22nd, where Sierra Reid of Intel, and Jasmine Chiang and Jessica Mara of Lenovo will be having a fireside chat about women innovators in sports and gaming.