Interview: Women in Games' Marie-Claire Isaaman on Gender Imbalance
Women in esports have received rape threats and experienced other abuse, particularly online. This is never acceptable. Ever. To counter this, women are engaging in women only tournaments to build their skills and confidence. Twitch specifically – the game streaming site – is working hard at tackling online abuse.
The esports competition environment has developed as a predominantly male arena, a giant boxing ring where the players fight with keyboard and mouse. The audiences are usually 95 per cent male and the products and services have been designed with this particular audience in mind, it’s a tough environment to be in as a woman and only 5 per cent of the crowd. From a skills perspective there’s no reason that you couldn’t have mixed teams. Mark Religioso, the Brand Manager at Bandai Namco Entertainment has said that there is a need to make the esports scene a more welcoming place for women, and is setting up what he calls the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ tournaments with equal gender balance in teams, as-well as launching a mentoring programme to attract more women into this sector.
Many organizations are being set- up to support the professionalization of esports. In the UK, The British Esports Association was founded in 2017. This is a not-for-profit organisation designed to support and promote grassroots esports in the UK, chaired by Andy Payne. Carleigh Morgan – a member of the Women in Games Board and a Fulbright Scholar at King’s College – is researching this field and on the Advisory Board.
The European Women in Games Conference 2016 had a panel event, Expanding Horizons, which focused on esports. We are raising awareness of this area and encouraging debate and action. So, I think with us, the British Esports Association and others worldwide, there’s a real possibility esports will become more accessible to women and realise its full potential.
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Interview: Women in Games’ Marie-Claire Isaaman on Gender Imbalance