People of Colour within esports

People of Colour within esports

10 min read | 19 May 2021

The BAME (Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority) community makes up a portion of the esports industry, and we want to celebrate their work and experiences. In this article, we give an introduction to the community, and share some of their experiences in the industry.

According to a recent survey, conducted by Intel and NewZoo, 47% of gamers do not play games they feel are not made for them – showing that diversity and inclusivity matters to players. This is definitely something that translates over into the esports industry, with more organisations and initiatives working to promote inclusivity.

But first, some background.

Toxic Behaviour:
Racism is a very prominent thing within all aspects of life, and esports is one of these areas. You generally see this behaviour at the higher levels of competitive play, but happens in all levels of play as well.

This needs to change.

For the most part, these comments come from fans and spectators of games, and can sometimes come up within in-game voice chats too.

In some cases, these comments have been made by players to those who are part of the BAME community – and the relevant actions are generally taken against the person making them.

Freeman Williams, Content Creator at Excel and Fortnite Game Advisor for British Esports, said: “I’ve had a sporting background (football), so I’m no stranger to discrimination in a community. Personally, I’ve always found that if you’re nice to someone, there’s a good chance they will be nice back! But with emotionally charged sports, a lot of unacceptable language is thrown about sadly.”

“However, I have to say esports has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve only been posting actively on social media for just over a year, but what I’ve experienced has been pretty decent. I’ve found the community as a whole completely accepting towards me and other ethnic members.”

“If there was a complaint, I’d have to say some of my discord direct messages have been pretty bad. That normally occurs after you beat someone, and they throw some insults your way! I’ve found just responding with a kind comment back, normally gets them to retract their comments and apologize. So yeah, on the whole, the esports community gets a thumbs up from me,” Freeman added.

“This is where organisations and individuals in the industry can help promote sportsmanship and try to eradicate both racism and toxicity from esports.

In various titles, there is an in-game reporting system that allows you to flag up any toxic behaviour – including incidents of racism. As well as this, some games have a boy system that prevents particular words or phrases being used in chat.

Although this will not be resolved overnight, there is more the esports community can be doing to help create a welcoming space together.

Representation in the industry:
As with other communities, BAME individuals have faced toxicity and under-representation within the esports and gaming industries, but this is something that is being challenged.

There are many organisations and groups in the industry that actively work to showcase the works of POC (people of colour) and represent them.

However, each individual has different experiences within the industry, and therefore has a different viewpoint on how people of colour are represented.

Shoubna Naika-Taylor, Team Manager of the Coventry Crosshairs, said: “Representation is so important in so many parts of life and industries are working towards that to make it inclusive and encouraging people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in particular fields. So, yes change is occurring but there is so much to be done.”

“Esports is such a huge industry globally that yes, POC are represented well for some ethnic backgrounds, but there are some that are still underrepresented; predominantly from black and to lesser extent in the West and Western tournament, South Asian communities.”

“Initiatives such as POC in Play would certainly impact young people to pursue these careers and I think in time, it will become more diverse naturally. I also think having key POC individuals in esports as ambassadors could be the encouragement that people need,” Shoubs added.

Kahlief Adams, Gaming Technical Marketing Engineer at Intel and host of the Spawn on Me podcast, said: “There have been some fantastic strides in the gaming industry in the past 4-7 years in a major way, but the gaming industry as a whole still doesn’t have a respectable amount of visibility both behind the scenes and on the front stage in my opinion.”

“The esports space is even more homogeneous in terms of team ownership, team makeup and on-air personalities. There are lots of factors that play into that, but it’s about time that all of these industries take a hard look at how they can include more voices and seats at these tables.”

Spawn on Me with Kahlief Adams:
Spawn on Me is a podcast created by Kahlief Adams to showcase the talents of the BAME community and marginalised groups in the gaming industry.

The project began from Kahlief and his friends’ love for gaming podcasts, and they noticed there was a lack of representation of people of colour in these productions. From then, Spawn on Me was born – and provides the well-deserved representation for people of colour that was not prominent before.

Kahlief said: “We knew that those podcasts were missing some interesting and crucial perspectives that we and many other gamers of colour were experiencing so we decided to jump into the podcasting space to share thoughts about gaming through our prism and experiences.”

“Spawn On Me will be, and has already been, a catalyst for the change I want to see in the world, and I’ve only just begun.”

He added: “The industry has to do a better job of pulling POC ideas, culture and people into the funnel in a wider and real way. So much of popular culture stems from those groups that it is amazing to see how slowly folks look to adopt the trends we set. Everyone benefits if you do it in a smart and equitable way.”


AnyKey Pledge:
On top of these projects, there are pledges across the industry to promote inclusivity and diversity – one in particular is from AnyKey.

The ‘GLHF’ Pledge is a way for gamers and industry professionals to show their support for inclusion and diversity in the industry.

AnyKey states that: “We invite you to join us in creating a gaming ecosystem that welcomes everyone and includes all, no matter their shape, size, color, gender, background, disability, or beliefs.”

“By taking this pledge, you promise to make a difference as a positive and inclusive citizen in your own gaming spaces.”

Anyone can sign the pledge, and show the world they are on board to promote inclusion of all in the industry.


It is clear that parts of the industry need to change in order to become even more diverse than it already is. Whether this is highlighting the works of people in the BAME community or even just supporting diversity in the industry, things need to adapt to promote that esports is for all.

Further Reading:

Here are some of the BAME groups and communities within esports and gaming:
(click on them for more info!)

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