Hands holding the game controllers

Play to Win: How Women Are Breaking Barriers in eSports

ESports has exploded in popularity among a global audience of people who are typically male and millennial. By 2022, eSports is expected to reach nearly 300 million viewers and the industry’s total monetization will expand to an estimated $3 billion, according to a report by Goldman Sachs. There are signs that this audience is broadening beyond young males: Adult women represent a greater portion of the video game-playing population (33%) than boys under 18 (17%), according to a recent report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Female panelists in The FQ Lounge at Tribeca Film Festival 2019

Leaders in The FQ Lounge share how women are leveling the playing field in Esports


There may be many reasons for the shift, such as the physical barriers to entry that exist in traditional athletic sports (i.e., speed, strength, and size) don’t matter in eSports. And, with the rise of digital technologies like video streaming and mobile gaming platforms, eSports are becoming even more accessible.

Still, the professional eSports industry and gaming community remain predominantly male at every level.  At the FQ Lounge @ Tribeca Film Festival, female leaders dispelled the widespread myth that the eSports industry doesn’t appeal to women—and how to get more women into the business. Read the highlights below.


Rewrite the Job Description

To help attract more women into male-dominated fields, it’s important to re-think the language you’re using in the job descriptions. “I take the word ‘Esports’ out of a lot of the recruiting language [in our job descriptions] because women actually self-select out. A lot of women say, ‘I’m not a gamer and, therefore, I can’t do this,’” says Yvette Martinez-Rea, CEO North American, ESL.


Technology Can Level the Playing Field  

Money and physical ability aren’t barriers to participating in e-sports, which makes it accessible for a wide range of people. “Who can afford a gaming rig anyways? But everyone has a cellphone and that’s more powerful,” says Shiz Suzuki, AVP, Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing, AT&T.


Build Your Brand

In the virtual world of gaming, you can create a personal brand that stands out. “Technology can help in the beginning stages of building your brand,” says Gaylen Malone, Senior General Manager, Cloud9.Physical capabilities don’t matter. It’s mental and how much work you put in, so there’s a lot of potential for females to succeed in this space.”


We Need Women Creators

In order for eSports to be inclusive—and reach the largest number of consumers—women need to be part of the creation process and the business. “Having a female perspective is important for our overall brand and specific voice,” says Eunice Chen, VP of Marketing, Cloud9. “We need more women building behind the scenes so we can have a more diverse external voice.”


We’re Better Together

“One of the realities that are stopping women from playing is that female players hit a ceiling in competitiveness when trying to be professionals, because men don’t invite them to practice with them,” says Yvette. “Women practice with women. Men practice with men. Women can only get as good as the other women who are playing.”

Competitive video game playing is only going to get bigger. The opportunities that eSports provide have the potential to advance diversity and inclusion. But first, we all have to make a commitment to equality.


For more on how women are breaking barriers in technology, sports, and gaming, check out:

The FQ Equality News 5.3.19

Equality Champions: Olympians Who are Changing the Game

Why Diversity Should be a Business Goal