The Path of Girls in Esports, or "You Fall, You Get Up, You Go On"
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In November 2020, the Girls Got Game project, in which girls get to talk about their professional path in competitive gaming, was launched by WePlay Esports' media. Valeria Eleronka Babenko and Yana b2ru Khymchenko have already shared their stories. This time, we talked to Albina Krugliak, a journalist of the English editorial office at WePlay Esports, who is working on the project.
How much time has passed between the project idea and its announcement?
The project is only a couple of months old, but the idea was born two years ago when I first started working at WePlay Esports. My editors were Vlad Katunin and Nikita Povolotskiy. I presented my idea to record a series of interviews with girls in esports and even held several meetings, but the materials were never published.
Now I already have experience, and I am confident in my skills. Besides, Girls Got Game has garnered good feedback from both readers and colleagues — I think this is an indication of its potential. And the subject is incredibly relevant. This summer, there was an avalanche of stories on Twitter: girls wrote about harassment in the esports industry, there were even accusations of violence. Thanks to the publicity such cases received, there was a wave of support for the female community in esports.
How did your teammates react to the idea of creating Girls Got Game?
I get a lot of support from the Editor-In-Chief of the Russian editorial office, Alexander Park. He has an amazing base of contacts, and he can easily arrange an interview with the most famous esports personalities. I get a lot of help and motivation from our PR Department. And of course, it wouldn't have been possible without the help and support of English Content Lead Dillon Bantel: he revived the project idea, taking the initiative and suggesting that we make a series of interviews, came up with a name, and even with the idea for the materials' visual design. Our Design Department later developed the logo and visual identity.
The goal of the Girls Got Game project is to tell the stories of girls who have succeeded or are on their way to succeed in the field and to inspire those who doubt their abilities to be fearless and follow their dreams. Do they really have less visibility in the world of esports compared to men?
There are quite a lot of women in esports, but, sadly, not among professional players. Female gamers cannot compete on equal footing with men's tier-1 teams — yet. The goal of the Girls Got Game project isn’t only to tell about girls who push esports forward but also to make sure that clubs and teams notice talented female esports players and take them under their wing.
Why do you think there are so few girls on pro teams?
Because "Better go make borscht!" and "You aren’t made for this" have gone nowhere. The girls I interviewed routinely face these stereotyped attitudes. Disrespect is rampant among beginners or amateurs during games. Discrimination is less common on social media, but recently, there was a scandal on Twitter and Reddit: players wrote that women belong in the kitchen, and some users agreed. This is outrageous, and I really want our project to contribute to reducing discrimination, sexism, and other similar behavior.
During my career, no one has ever detracted me from it, no one said that esports wasn’t really my thing, — it was rather the opposite. In our company, my colleagues always support and motivate me, for which I am very grateful. This is how it should be for everyone.
Female-only esports leagues: is it feasible and a great idea, or not? Why?
I think mixed teams are the future. We shouldn't be isolating female esports by organizing girls-only tournaments. Girls don't need that kind of special treatment. On the contrary, they keep asking: "Treat us the same way; we want to be at the same pro-level as the guys!”
Perhaps we should start by creating a women's league. After all, female teams receive little support from sponsors and prominent esports clubs as of today. The most famous roster of such kind is the Dignitas Female team. They have support in CS:GO, but we did witness a trend when without proper support, other women's teams would quickly disintegrate.
Why is esports predominantly a man's world? The problem is that mixed-roster teams just don't get created. A lot of women play on the same level as men, if not better. For example, after our project was announced on social media, a girl reached out to me who is trying to support and promote female esports all on her own. She shared a list of female players from all over the world with a high MMR [Matchmaking Rating is a metric used to quantify a player's skill — ed.] in Dota 2.
It is unlikely that these girls will come together as a team: they all live in different countries. But it would be amazing if the men's teams started accepting them.
Who are the women in esports that inspire you?
I admire Sheever a lot. She is a famous commentator, host, and interviewer. Sheever has been through a lot both personally and professionally but hasn’t lost a bit of her kindness, empathy, and motivation to deliver top-level performance in the field of esports.
She's a role model for me. I know her personally: we spoke at the WePlay! Tug of War: Mad Moon Dota 2 tournament. Sadly, that interview never saw the light of day. Sheever has an open and sweet personality: she doesn't act like a diva; she is sweet and open with everyone despite all her experience and fame.
What would you like to say to the girls reading this interview?
If you live and breathe for esports — you are welcome to message me on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don't have to be, say, a pro gamer with a certain level of popularity. There are a lot of girls working behind the scenes: in marketing, photography, or design. I want them not to be afraid to tell their stories and to believe in themselves. Even if there is a negative backlash coming your way — don’t let it bring you down, and never give up. You fall, you get up, you put yourself back together, and you go on.