Gone are the days when games were just another form of recreation. Gaming is now a major industry garnering talented individuals from all over the world, especially women who are stepping into this largely male-dominated sector and demolishing age-old stereotypes, brick by brick.
Amy Hennig, President of New Media Division, Skydance has been writing games for big guns like Nintendo and Eidos Interactive for many years now. Megan Fox, a young developer, broke boundaries to create her own company called Glass Bottom Games, and went on to produce a string of engaging and amazing game applications. Tina Amini has been writing for big game firms since 2009 and has held numerous talks throughout her career, including at the well-known GamesBeat Summit.
Back home, the Indian gaming scene has also picked up in momentum for more reasons than one. While the male to female ratio in this industry is pretty skewed, there is a strong wind of change blowing and shifting this by the hour.
Here are some formidable female gamers who have become indispensable assets to the gaming industry:
Better known as Xyaa, Shagufta Iqbal played her first game when she was a 12-year-old girl. Her father was a regular subscriber of Digit Magazine, and with each new issue came a flash game CD through which Iqbal first entered the virtual world. She has played games like Counter Strike 1.6, PUBG, and Call of Duty among many others.
However, like every other woman trying to carve a name in this niche, Shagufta, too, faced bias. “Once, I was playing with a male youtuber and every time he killed players, there was a lot of cheering. When I killed one there was no reaction, and when I died people were like, what a loser!” She also adds that the social stigma attached to gaming is what stops most female gamers from stepping out in the open.
With an aim to change the commonly held opinion that women are not good gamers, Apollonia Hinds and her band of girls have stepped into the virtual field to lead a feminist movement in e-games.
Born and raised in Singapore, Apollonia is currently a Mumbai resident. She started gaming when she was nine years old with a popular game called Runescape. Following that, she ventured into other games from different genres but ultimately rose to fame with the League of Legends.
Apollonia believes that her supportive parents were one of the biggest factors behind her success in the e-gaming industry. “Once my esports career took off, they encouraged me to follow my dreams and pursue my passion.” She is currently employed with Global Esports as a content creator.
Vidushi "Mogambo" Singh Suryavanshi
Founder of Girlaxy India, the all-girls League of Legends roster, Vidushi Singh is a celebrated name in the e-gaming circuit. Taking inspiration from Apollonia Hinds, who started Girlaxy Singapore, she initiated her Indian version that has become tremendously successful.
Vidushi was introduced to the League of Legends by her brother and hasn’t looked back since. As the leader of one of India’s top girl rosters, Vidushi has participated in multiple challenges including the Goa championship organised by the ICG.
Due to personal reasons she had to step down from her position at Girlaxy but continues to support women all over the nation who are trying to enter this strictly male-dominated industry.
An artist and illustrator by profession, Rashi says that she is often mocked by her colleagues for her undying passion for e-games. “They ask me if I play FarmVille or Candy Crush.” Undeterred by this, Rashi continues to step outside the boundaries of stereotypes and build a persona in the online gaming Industry.
She started young, playing games like the classic Prince of Persia and is currently hooked onto the Witcher 3: Wild Hut. Out-and-out support from her parents and friends is what encouraged her in this direction as she continues to inspire many women around her to consider online gaming as a career option.
Known as the Lara Croft of Indian gaming, Zerah Gonsalves was in school when she played her first e-gaming tournament. She made her mark as a legendary DOTA 2 player and went on to become a shoutcaster in the Indian gaming arena.
One of the first women gamers of the country, Zerah aims to build more awareness around female e-gamers and the importance of a shoutcaster in a tournament’s success. She has hosted multiple international and domestic gaming events like GameGod and ESL India Premiership. Apart from being an awesome gamer, Zerah loves travelling and reading all kinds of books.
(Edited by Varsha Roysam)