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Women in e-sports

We’ve seen big growth in e-sports in the last several years as platforms like Twitch have made it much easier to both broadcast and spectate, easier to become a fan or perhaps even imagine yourself competing one day. Growth moments are opportunities to look back at history and think about where we are going. Part of the history we want us to keep in mind, especially as we think about the future of the scene, is the active role of women in it since the beginning

Yup, I know this may seem surprising to some but it’s true! I put a question out on Twitter several months ago asking people to chime in with names of notable women in e-sports. What was fantastic was not only how many names people gave me — that list broke a hundred within about 48 hours — but that they ranged from contemporary figures to those that broke ground over a decade ago. Current players like like Scarlett, TempoEloise, or MissHarvey, to broadcasters like Lauren Scott, Anna Prosser Robinson, Sue Lee, or Eefje Depoortere were mentioned. Women like Mona Zhang who helped launch the Collegiate Star League (a key anchor for current collegiate e-sports), TossGirl (an amazing SC competitor), or Kat (Hunter) Metzen and Vanessa Arteaga (both involved in early attempts to bring e-sports to mass audiences) and numerous others who managed teams or help build local scenes were also highlighted.

Women have been involved in e-sports in a variety of ways – from players to “backstage” work – since the beginning. One of the most important things to think about right now is how to grow this powerful seed of women’s participation in e-sports and competitive gaming go build a stronger, healthier scene.

This is an exciting moment. Think about the conversation and energy that drove the tremendous change we’ve seen in women’s participation in traditional sports over just the last 40 years. Or what we are seeing now with women wanting to really be a part of the Twitch community. There’s tremendous opportunity!

I was incredibly excited to, with my partner-in-crime Morgan Romine, bring a panel on women in e-sports to TwitchCon to explore some of these issues. We had amazing ground-breakers speaking: Amy Brady (Director of Global Events, Twitch), Kim Phan (Sr. Manager, E-sports at Blizzard ), Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico (e-sports host and interviewer), and Rumay “Hafu” Wang (multi-game pro player).

You can watch a VOD of it now.

Stay tuned too for more on the women in e-sports history project I’m brewing up!

Women & e-sports panel in Katowice

As many of us who’ve been researching/working in/following the e-sports scene for years now know, the issues around gender there are complex and often quite fraught. Intel made a big announcement several months back that they were going to supporting serious initiatives on diversity in a variety of domains.

It just so happens they are also longtime sponsors of the Intel Extreme Masters and decided to support a panel on the subject of women & e-sports at the massive Katowice tournament last week.

I was thrilled to be a part of it, along with a fantastic group of women, and men, working in the space. You can check out a VOD of the panel now. Here’s hoping it is just the kick-off to a rich program that seriously tackles issues around diversity and inclusion.

As I’ve long argued, women make up a tremendously energetic part of gaming. This includes e-sports. There is much to still be done to foster and support their continued participation in the scene. Here’s hoping this is a year where change really gets some momentum!