It’s a big topic in competitive gaming, and the work of several organisations are hoping to make esports more diverse and inclusive.


Is a lack of diversity a problem?

Esports has been criticised by some in recent years for a lack of female professional gamers at the top level and those from minority backgrounds.

The issue has been raised by the media on several occasions and has regularly sparked debate.

In a nutshell, there is a lack of female players at the top level within esports. And while gaming – and competitive gaming – is gender-inclusive (it’s not like football for example, where men’s teams and women’s teams play separately), men still outnumber women significantly in terms of the number of professional players.

There are a selection of women’s-only tournaments out there, but they aren’t at the same level of the world’s biggest esports competitions, in terms of stature and prize money. Some reporting in this area has also confused general gaming with competitive gaming, muddying the matter further.

Because of the lack of diversity, there are several groups in the industry are working to make esports more inclusive. We’ve highlighted some below and you can see a more comprehensive list here, courtesy of Nicolas Besombes at France Esports.

 

Women in Esports

In late 2019 the British Esports Association launched an initiative to celebrate females within the esports industry. From casters to professional players, marketeers to production specialists and more, there is a vast amount of talent in the esports industry to shout about.

Through this initiative, British Esports wants to help raise awareness and improve inclusivity in esports similarly to other organisations such as Women in Games/Women in Esports, Women of Esports, AnyKey, FemaleLegends and more. It hopes to work alongside them to promote diversity together.

British Esports has a Women in Esports Committee which regularly discusses activities and issues in the space.

See more on the Women in Esports page here.

 

Women in Games

Women in Games WIGJ is the not for profit organisation that seeks a games industry, culture and community free of gender discrimination, where full equality of opportunity, treatment and conditions empowers all women to achieve their full potential.

It works in partnership with individual Ambassadors and companies like Dovetail, Outplay, 2K, Creative Assembly, Rockstar, Ubisoft, Sumo and now Barclays Ventures to make equality a reality. Women in Games is over 10 years old and is now officially represented in 30+ different countries.

View the Women in Games website

FemaleLegends

Sweden-based female esports community Female Legends secured 5.3m Swedish Crowns in investment (around £430,000) a few years ago.

The organisation, which runs female League of Legends tournaments, aims to get more women involved in esports and host esports boot camps.

View the FemaleLegends website.

 

Accessibility in esports: Disabled and neurodiverse gamer initiatives

In summer 2020 we produced a stream exploring this topic, featuring representatives from SpecialEffect, eTeam Brit and Autistica:

 


What is AnyKey?

AnyKey is a diversity initiative set up by ESL and Intel, which aims to support diverse participation in esports.

Its current research and initiatives are focused on women in esports — from providing competitive gamers with resources, support and opportunities, to collaborating with women in the industry, from sectors like game development and broadcasting, to building better gaming spaces.

AnyKey’s long-term vision is to foster a gaming community that is ‘welcoming to all players, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, religious belief, background, or physical appearance’.

AnyKey is working with the likes of former pro gamer Morgan Romine, as well as respected researcher T.L. Taylor. It has also supported several women’s esports tournaments such as the Intel Challenge at the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, and hopes to create female role models within esports.

“We believe it is possible to be fiercely competitive and embrace positive play at the same time,” AnyKey said in a statement. “We hope to pursue research and initiatives that will help to build a gaming culture in which players are noted for their skills, not personal traits.

“Women have long played an important role in competitive gaming and we are excited to promote, build on, and grow their involvement in the scene.

“We hope to foster welcoming spaces and positive opportunities for competitive players of all kinds.”

Visit the AnyKey website here