Careers related to gaming have seen explosive growth as access to high-quality gaming platforms and options for streaming entertainment continue to expand. However, just as the recreational gaming scene is disproportionately represented by males, the emerging careers related to gaming have seen similar trends. The longstanding imbalance is likely caused by a variety of factors, such as targeted marketing, inequity in STEM education and long-term cultural reinforcement. However, the gaming landscape does seem to be slowly becoming more equitable in recent years, with women accounting for about 41 percent of gamers as of 2020.
Career resources for women in the gaming industry
Female representation in the gaming industry
Female representation in the gaming industry is not only important for the sake of offering equitable opportunities to women, but also as an opportunity for women to influence popular culture. It is not just notable female gamers like Rachel Hofstetter, Sasha Hostyn, Li Xiao Meng, Siobhan Bielamowicz, Katherina Gunn, Ricki Ortiz and Alia Shelesh who are changing the face of the gaming industry, but also directors, voice actors, developers and many more.
There are a huge variety of avenues that gamers and associated professionals can use to pursue gaming as a career. For example, while one gamer might participate in esports competitions, another might make their money from a streaming platform.
Career avenues for professional gaming
There are many career avenues related to gaming but some of the most profitable for professional gamers can be found through esports and streaming platforms.
Esports is an explosive industry that offers several avenues for women who are interested in jobs in the gaming industry. In addition to professional gaming, the esports industry is also creating jobs that revolve around technical support, event planning, management, marketing and more.
However, the disparity in this industry is clear. According to one report, the top one hundred earners among male esports players collectively earned $192.4 million, while the top one hundred earners among female esports players earned $2.8 million. This gulf is all the more surprising because a 2019 report estimated that 30% of esports viewers and 35% of esports players were female. But women still have opportunities to make strides in the industry.
There are women-only teams and professional circuits that can be a helpful avenue for women to use in pursuit of an esports career. While these gender-specific organizations and events may seem exclusionary in a certain light, they can also offer a welcoming platform for women to learn about and enter the industry. Although, it is important to understand that these gender-specific communities and events must, by necessity, be viewed as just one piece of a multi-pronged, long-term strategy for the promotion of women in esports. And for women to gain significant influence in the industry at large.
Women may also find footholds in esports by finding a mentor, developing a unique brand, working in an adjacent industry or building a reputation as an independent streamer.
Streaming at large is an increasingly popular medium for entertainment, and video game streaming plays a significant role in the industry. Not only does it offer easily accessible entertainment for audiences, but it also offers an accessible and highly democratized platform for gamers to find and build an audience.They then can monetize their streams through options such as advertising, sponsorships, contracts, and direct donations. Streaming can be a great opportunity to pursue long-term career goals in the gaming sphere or a good option for a side hustle.
As might be expected, female streamers often find themselves dealing with misogynistic comments and criticism from their audiences, as well as the community at large. These can range from uncomfortable comments about their appearance to angry claims that they are using sex appeal to boost their channel growth, despite a prevailing pay gap between male and female streamers
However, despite these unique hurdles, streaming also offers women unique opportunities to overcome barriers to professional gaming. It allows them to find an audience, develop their persona and conduct their affairs on an independent basis. Additionally, streaming through democratized platforms and the use of independent funding platforms allows people to directly support women in the gaming industry.
Gaming and game development resources for women
There are many resources available that women can leverage in the interest of pursuing a career in the gaming industry. These can be useful for informational, funding, training and career exploration purposes.
Scholarships, funding & competitions
Scholarships, competitions and other sources of financial support are increasingly available in the gaming sphere. Information about these resources can be found with websites and organizations such as the following:
- CollegeScholarships.org: This is a list of up-to-date scholarships related to gaming and game design.
- Next College Student Athlete: This is an up-to-date list of esports scholarships associated with the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
- Epic MegaGrants: This is a funding program created by epic games to support students, educators, creators and developers who are seeking to make strides related to the professional applications of 3D graphics (particularly Unreal Engine).
- Fig: Fig is a crowdsourced funding platform for indie games.
- Eric Dybsand Memorial AI Scholarship: This is a university scholarship for students with an interest in AI.
- Diverse Game Developers Fund (DGDF): This organization offers funding and scholarship resources for future and current game developers.
- Indie Fund: This initiative offers funding for independent game developers.
- eSport.fund: This initiative offers grants to people who are interested in starting an esports tournament.
- WomenIn Scholarship: This is a scholarship for women who are interested in pursuing a career related to gaming, and is funded by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Foundation.
- Girl Gamer Challenge: This is an online gaming competition for female gamers that offers prizes ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
Resources for special interest groups
Special interest groups are demographics that are seeking more equitable access to communities or resources. In the case of gaming, this not only includes women, but also ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Furthermore, it is important to approach special interest advocacy from an intersectional perspective, as special interest groups can overlap. Resources to facilitate the advancement of special interest groups in gaming include:
- Latinx in Gaming: This is a platform for Latinx individuals in the gaming community to connect and offer each other support.
- Represent Me: This is a not-for-profit organization that offers a community platform and development resources for both organizations and individuals within the gaming industry, to promote diversity and further the interests of special interest groups within that space.
- Black Girl Gamers: This is a community that advocates for Black women in the global gaming sphere.
- The Ablegamers Charity: This is a charitable organization that is seeking to provide improved accessibility to gaming for people with disabilities.
- Play Your Pride: This organization offers an inclusive community platform and resources for people in the LGBTQIA+ community who are interested in gaming.
Gaming programming & coding resources
The following educational resources can help women looking to develop their coding skills at various levels:
- Black Girls Code: This organization offers workshops and other educational resources related to coding for young girls from underrepresented communities.
- She Codes: This organization offers coding workshops for women.
- Women Who Code: This organization offers training and educational resources for women who are interested in technology careers. They also offer these services to companies who want to provide a better professional structure for women to thrive in these careers.
Professional associations, communities and support
Communities and other organized support systems that women in the gaming industry can leverage include:
- Girl Geek Academy: This organization offers workshops and a community platform for girls and women who are interested in technology.
- Women in Games Conference: This is an annual conference that hosts a variety of events meant to uplift women in the global gaming sphere.
- Pixelles: This is a nonprofit organization that offers workshops, community-building opportunities and mentorship programs for women in the gaming sphere.
- Emagination Tech Camp: These are summer camps for kids with an interest in technology.
- North America Scholastic Esports Federation: This is an organization that seeks to teach students about STEAM skills through the medium of esports.
- Global Gaming Women: This is an organization that provides education and training for women who are interested in careers related to gaming.
Helplines for women in gaming
Helplines that can provide support for women in gaming include:
- Games and Online Harassment Hotline: This is an emotional support helpline for people who are experiencing harassment online.
- Crash Override Network: This is a crisis helpline and resource center for people who are experiencing abuse online.
- Checkpoint: This resource offers mental and emotional support for people in the gaming community.
Mentorship resources that may benefit women in gaming include:
- GRUX SIG: The GRUX SIG offers a mentoring program for people who are interested in games user research.
- Game Dev Mentors: This is an online game development community that matches up students with mentors.
The following organizations are specifically meant to support women:
- Women in Games: This is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for women in the gaming industry.
- IGDA Women in Games Special Interest Group: This organization advocates for gender balance in the gaming industry, and provides a community platform for aspiring industry professionals.
- Women in Games International: This is a nonprofit organization that is seeking to promote diversity and equal opportunity in the gaming industry.
Additional resources for women and girls interested in gaming and games development
Further resources that could be helpful for women and girls who are trying to break into this industry include:
- Women Empowering Women: This video offers advice from female business professionals as to how women can succeed in professional media pursuits.
- Run It Like a Girl: This podcast explores the stories of successful female leaders in a variety of industries, including media.
- A Podcast of One’s Own With Julia Gillard: This is a podcast hosted by former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, who covers topics related to women’s leadership, including professional media.
- Women’s CoLab: This is a career development resource for women who want to pursue a career in the digital space.