As the journey to support female gamers in the esports industry continues to gain attention, it’s important to recognize the intersectionality of diversity when it comes to representation in the pro gaming sphere. It’s generally understood that pro gaming needs to bring in more female gamers and gamers who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color); however, gamers who are both female and BIPOC—at the same time—can often be overlooked. A new collaboration between computer manufacturer Lenovo and Power League Gaming (PLG) is aimed at addressing a specific subset of just that demographic, specifically female gamers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
According to research from Newzoo—“The world’s most trusted and quoted source for games market insights and analytics”—35% of gamers in the Middle East and North Africa are female. Considering the fact that their data also states that gamers of all gender, between the ages of 18 and 24, spend eight hours on average playing console games. With this data in mind, along with an industry wide trend of initiatives to support female games (such as the FTW Summer Showdown) Lenovo reached out to Power League Gaming to launch Miss Esports.
Power League Gaming is a Dubai-based firm that was founded in 2013 and is the largest esports business in the MENA region. By collaborating with Lenovo, PLG is able to offer unprecedented visibility to female gamers in their part of the world by featuring local ambassadors to, as an article from Esports Insider puts it, “ serve as role models and mentors to female gamers in the region.”
The initiative, launched earlier this year, is currently seeking new female gamers from the MENA region to “provide information and networking opportunities related to video games, streaming and content creation.” According to the marketing director of Lenovo – Middle East and Africa, Claire Carter, “Miss Esports represents an evolution in our continued efforts to celebrate all gamers – in this instance, creating a safe and positive community in which we can nurture female talent.”
It’s important to note, that when we talk about inclusivity and diversity in terms of gaming, we’re often speaking from a Western/American perspective. The great thing about the gaming industry is that it is a global and international phenomenon that crosses cultures. As such, racial diversity means something very different in a MENA country as opposed to a North American country. Still, by raising the profiles of more female gamers from the region, the global culture of gaming becomes more diverse in terms of both gender and race/culture. As Carter notes, “It’s crucial to ensure we’re creating inclusive environments.”
As female players from MENA countries become increasingly visible, they become examples and inspiration for female gamers who might share a specific cultural identity, but live in a region where they are an ethnic minority. This level of representation matters and serves to break down cultural assumptions and stereotypes that might otherwise prevent gaming from becoming the globalizing and unifying force it has the potential to be.