By Thomas Costes – Posted on 04 Nov 2022 at 17:00
A very masculine environment like that of video games and esports tends to be shaken up by the arrival of women. Codes are broken, tongues are loosened. They are rooted in a universe of masculine base and in which it is difficult, as a woman, to evolve.
Sports are gaining momentum
And yes, no offense to some, women are surely the future of esports. Why ? Well, because they are quite simply new. Obviously, the term “new” is not necessarily appropriate. Women were already present in the industry long before its democratization to the general public. But it is clear that the middle of the video game is male. It tends to feminize little by little. But what is the real place of women in this environment?
As a reminder, the esports market is worth around 50 million euros in France alone according to a Cepheid study. This figure of 50 million euros was reached in 2019. In comparison, Spain is only at 27 million and the United Kingdom at 71 million over the same period. It is therefore a very substantial financial windfall for the environment. In addition to all this financial aspect, it is also an environment that is becoming more professional. Indeed, in 2016, the “Law for a Digital Republic” created a new status for professional video game players. This creation of framed regulations defines the contours of an environment that tends to legitimize itself with the general public. The video game is no longer just a medium, it is becoming a medium for the creation of competitions all over the world.
Lately, President Emmanuel Macron received French esports playersmarking a further step in the legitimization and recognition of this milieu. But full recognition requires full inclusion. And women are increasingly managing to integrate into this environment. As a reminder, half of the players are now female players. But only 6% of players are professional playing competitions with rankings in 2020. This barometer made by France esport shows that there is still a lot to do in terms of inclusiveness and diversity. However, there are already models that are relevant to be presented.
Women as professional players
Firstly, we obviously think of the players. There are more and more esports players on the competitive scene. One can think, in France, of Kayane. A reference on fighting games that needs no introduction. Finalist of the EVO, she is in herself a model for women wishing to get into esports. But more generally, it is the major players in the industry who are starting to work on greater representation of women.
Riot Games announced the creation of a women’s league on League of Legends very recently. The game has such a competitive scene that it couldn’t be more logical to create an all-female league. But the studio is not at its first attempt. A league already existed in Valorant. We could see the creation of the G2 Esports roster on FPS. At the same time, it’s Astralis which also launched a female roster on Valve’s FPS: CS GO.
If we look at the French side, Ubisoft has created a women’s Rainbow Six Siege league for Brazil. And the level is high. Like their male counterparts who travel to Central and Latin America, the Brazilian women’s teams are well ahead of the French FPS. On the R6 stage, we can even present Laurie Lager, aka Lyloun, current coach of Wolves Esports (former Vitality roster) who has had excellent results for several months. With her team, she qualifies for the three Majors of the year. This gives the team a good chance of qualifying for the Six Invitational which will again take place in Montreal. A beautiful CV, we will say!
Obviously, we could still take plenty of examples to illustrate this. But there would be so many examples of female players who could serve as role models that it would take us hours. However, it is important that there is a pool of talent just waiting to be showcased.
Castresses and female talents
And yes, esports is not limited to female players. What would the discipline be without commentators and analyses? Well in France we have them too! Laure Valée is a reference. Since 2015, she has been interviewing professional players on League of Legends. She regularly intervenes on esports platforms such as the Canal Esport Club or BeIn eSports.. A specialist in the discipline, this obviously earned him criticism from frustrated children who did not appreciate a woman succeeding in this environment. To realize her knowledge, just follow her on YouTube or Twitch. You will find plenty of shows, interviews and analyzes that will allow you to understand esport in a whole new way.
Internationally, we can think of JessGOATformer coach and now talent rewarded in Valorant and Rainbow Six Siege. The American is also a finalist in the “esports analyst of the year” category. She analyzes moves and tactics with such precision that her reward is more than deserved. On the European side, we can mention Eejje “Sjokz” Depoortere. Former player and currently a journalist graduated from the University of Ghent. In 2018 and 2020, she simply won the award for “best Esports host”. And for three years in a row, she is rewarded as the best esports commentator.
As we can see, even at the level of the media and specialists, women are full of talent. They are increasingly put forward for their great knowledge of the environment and manage to find a place for themselves in this still very masculine sector.
Women in the organization and in the industry
Finally, it is important to talk about those who organize the events. Those who are in the shadows. In 2017, according to a SELL survey, there are only 15% of women in video game studios. Which is way too little. However, it is important to note that in marketing, communication and events positions the trend is much more balanced than on the development side. Thus, it is not uncommon for many women, anonymous to the general public, to be at the origin of major esports competitions.. They are not highlighted because they work in the shadows, and you have to be aware of that.
In addition to this, one can note associations that try to create tournaments exclusively for women or to include them more and more. We can think of Nemari who created the Women’s League in order to organize mixed and female competitions. Associations like Afrogameuses are trying to develop the inclusion of women of African origin in the world of video games and esports.. All these little stones help create an edifice aimed at promoting the legitimate place of women in the world of esports. And for that we can only applaud them.
Still a lot of work to do
Unfortunately, the problems of sexism and discrimination are still numerous. We can see it with the issues that come up regularly in the industry or even in esports teams. The place of women is still not acquired and there is still a lot to do. What we can do at our level is to encourage them and denounce problematic behavior. They are the future of the discipline and we can’t wait to see tournaments as big as those for men, for our greatest pleasure as fans.