Even though it may feel like the world around us is coming down, now is a great time to be a gamer girl.
This week, there have been two announcements made by two separate entities revealing their all-women esports teams for the multiplayer first-person shooter, Valorant.
Cloud9 and AT&T debuted their women’s team just this week at the qualifiers for Riot Games’ First Strike Tournament. Esports organization Gen.G and women-first social networking app Bumble, are currently putting together a Valorant team of their own (which you can find out how to apply for here).
Before them, we had Vaevictis’ League of Legends all-women team and, while they had some controversy surrounding them—along with their absence from the 2020 League of Legends Continental League season—their emergence into competitive esports was symbolic of a post-Gamergate industry where lady gamers could unapologetically be in the esports ring with men.
That isn’t to say the problems of Gamergate have been fully resolved and that there is no longer any pushback from the situation. The gaming industry is still very misogynistic and representation for both women and people of color in video games still needs a lot of improvement. Lady gamers can now experience harassment in real-time thanks to streaming and, while major video game publishers said in the summer they would commit to fighting racism in their video game communities, those same publishers have yet to announce any initiatives to help in this endeavor. [No, the free Black Lives Matter theme on PlayStation 4 does not count.]
According to a 2019 study done by Newzoo, women made up 46 percent of the gaming industry and 29 percent of us are esports fans. While I am personally confident both percentages will grow, there is still a large percentage of women who believe that brands do not market to them and a larger percentage still feel that they aren’t represented enough in esports and gaming.
So, if this is the case, according to studies—if the very things I fight against regularly are still occurring in an industry I love and now work in—how can I possibly believe that this is a great time to be a woman in video gaming?
We are certainly not in a golden age, where the changes are welcomed and revitalizing to the community. If this was the case, this entire opinion piece would be telling you all about how our days of video game discrimination are over and the video game industry is now a utopia for all. We aren’t even close to being there.
Just because we are not there yet, does not mean we are not on our way.
While some lady gamers may feel as if progress isn’t happening fast enough, I think it is happening at the proper pace for a newer generation of gamer girls. I like to think that by 2030, video game characters will be more diverse in race, gender and sexual orientation. Even now, I find myself seeing more female video game characters in all types of roles than I did in 2010.
As lady gamers, I think we have a responsibility to help make sure that the video gaming community and industry combat sexism and misogyny in both spaces for the gamer girls who will come after us.
We must hold video game developers and publishers accountable for the things they promise us. We must speak up against harassment if we see it anywhere the gaming community congregates.
For gaming ladies of color like myself though, this may feel like an impossible task as the racism we face is often sexualized and the sexism we face is racialized. We may not even have the energy to combat the harassment we face personally in our lives, much less the energy to combat the harassment someone else is facing.
I understand this feeling. Especially in these times where most of our time is spent on screen and not in person; it feels almost impossible to do things for others when we have a hard time doing things for ourselves.
A little help can go a long way. I don’t expect you all to write large letters demanding an immediate change in the industry. What I hope for is that you all ensure the gaming community around you is inclusive, conscientious of its content and make sure you vocalize a need for better representation when you see it.