By: Jaden Narwal
Over the years, the video game industry has developed from a mere pastime, to a prospering global business. According to Statista, there were over 2 billion gamers in the world in 2020. By this year, global video games sales are expected to reach close to $140 billion. This is over an $80 billion increase in the last decade.
In studying this industry, we have learned that 41% of all gamers in the United States are women. This number was unanticipated, considering video games and eSports has predominantly focused on men as their core demographic. Women consumers are clearly impacted by this focus, as 62% of fans do not believe eSports brands market towards them.
Not only do they play, but women also make up a large number of eSports viewers and content consumers. Women account for 30% of eSports viewership, and are willing spenders on merchandise and branded premiums. Despite this, many brands do not even offer merchandise in women’s sizes or items tailored to women.
Many traditional stereotypes surrounding gender and sports are irrelevant when it comes to eSports. There are no distinct physical advantages. One's height, strength, or athleticism is irrelevant. There is a more level playing field, as one must focus on developing their cognitive function, as well as mental endurance. Despite these factors, the industry continues to focus on their male demographic.
Many women consumers are also victims of harassment and discrimination in the gaming community. By revealing their gender on a group chat or on a microphone, they open themselves up to harmful interactions. This can be a deterrent for those who are interested in participating, as well as looking to seek jobs within the industry.
There are a number of ways the industry can improve on these inequalities. There must be more opportunities for women partaking in competitions and holding leadership positions. Brands must also focus on tailoring more merchandise and products towards women. It is imperative that these changes be a group effort by eSports leagues, organizations, and partners to ensure a more inclusive, safe, and unbiased environment is created.
There are brands and leagues within the industry who are opening doors for women to participate in eSports. The Female eSports League hosts tournaments exclusively for women to compete. They pride themselves on creating an environment free of hate and discrimination. AnyKey is an advocacy organization that offers programs to enhance inclusivity and accessibility in the eSports community. Finally, Misscliks is a Twitch channel and outlet for all genders to participate and discuss eSports and gaming culture without prejudice or mistreatment.