Esports, or electronic sports, has become a global phenomenon, with millions of people tuning in to watch competitive video game matches online or in person. As the popularity of esports continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the industry, particularly in terms of gender.
Since 2009 Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) has had an active policy to increase female representation in esports. This is important for a number of reasons. First, it is simply a matter of fairness and equality. Women should have the same opportunities to compete and succeed in esports as men. By promoting gender diversity in the industry, we can help to break down barriers and create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
However, as MSSA President, Colin Webster, stated, “There are also practical reasons why having more females play esports is important. For one, it can help to grow the industry. Women make up a significant portion of the gaming market, and by tapping into this market, esports organizations and companies can reach a wider audience and increase their revenue streams.”
Webster added, “Additionally, having more females involved in esports can help to address some of the toxic behaviors and attitudes that have plagued the industry in the past. Women have historically faced harassment and discrimination in the gaming world, but by promoting gender diversity and inclusion, we can help to create a more welcoming and supportive community.”
There are also potential benefits to individual female players. By participating in esports, women can gain valuable skills and experience in areas such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving as well as earn Regional, provincial, and National Colours that may help such females obtain bursaries in order to study further. These skills can then be applied to other areas of their lives, such as their careers or personal relationships.
However, increasing female representation in esports is not without its challenges as MSSA is painfully aware. Women are still underrepresented in the industry, and those who do participate often face a range of barriers and obstacles. Some of these include online harassment and discrimination, a lack of female role models and mentors, and limited opportunities for sponsorship and funding.
MSSA faced very stiff opposition from many gamers, some of them who even have daughters, over the years when promoting its policies of enablement and inclusion.
To address these challenges, MSSA has always taken proactive steps to promote gender diversity and inclusion. This has included initiatives of providing incentives and creating real and credible upward movement. MSSA is the only esports national federation, world-wide with 40% of its Board consisting of female Board Members.
In conclusion, increasing female representation in esports is not only a matter of fairness and equality, but also a practical way to grow the industry and create a more inclusive and supportive community. By taking proactive steps to promote gender diversity and inclusion, we can help to build a better future for esports and for everyone involved in it.