I just got back from a pretty full week in SF for GDC. The trip kicked off with a visit to Twitch (see prior post) and then two talks at the conference itself. I spoke on Tuesday about the history of communities in building the esports scene and then gave a microtalk in the advocacy track focusing on our AnyKey work. Hopefully both will make their way to the GDC Vault (and not paywalled) and I’ll link the videos here when/if they do. In the meantime though I wanted to put up a pdf of the slides from the microtalk mostly because I want to make sure to shout-out all the fantastic folks and projects I mentioned in it.
It was exciting to get to attend TwitchCon again this year and I wrote up some reflections on our AnyKey initiative there this year and what esports can learn from variety streaming.
It’s been a busy semester since we announced the launch of AnyKey!
We’ve released a number of whitepapers on subjects such as community management and moderation, patterns of participation at esports events, and major critical issues. Learning how to produce short overview pieces like this has been a whole new challenge and I’m looking forward to getting better and better at it. Now if I could just amp up my design skills to make them look stylish!
We’ve also held several live-streamed broadcasts introducing the work of the organization and on the theme of “competition for all.” It’s been really great to get these conversations out in more popular venues. It’s been cool to see these events also get picked up on and then spun out into pieces at various websites as well.
There are big challenges facing the esports industry when it comes to issues of inclusion and diversity but I’m encouraged by the growing attention and, most importantly, initiatives to make change. Here’s hoping that trend only continues!
I’m so excited to be a part of a AnyKey, a new partnership between ESL and Intel to support and grow inclusivity in e-sports.
This initiative has been in the works for a few months now and while we just announced, we’ve already been at work bringing in industry stakeholders as well as undertaking research at live events. We’re also helping support the women’s tournament at the Intel Challenge CSGO tournament, including sponsoring an AnyKey lounge there.
Those of you who already know my work on e-sports (for example, my book Raising The Stakes or a paper about DreamHack I wrote with the terrific Emma Witkowski) know that I’ve been thinking about the gender & diversity angle to the scene for awhile. It’s pretty cool to now to get partner up with amazing folks like Morgan Romine (founder of the FragDolls), Michal “Carmac” Blicharz (ESL), Jesse Sell (ESL), and Lee Machen (Intel) to see how to move the conversation and scene forward with a combo of research and action.
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).
Stay tuned too for more on the women in e-sports history project I’m brewing up!