The gaming sector has seen rising participation of women, not only as players but also as developers and engineers, however, their representation is largely limited to non-leadership roles and needs to be more inclusive, experts told Business Standard on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2023.
“Women are not just limited to being gamers, but they are actively pursuing gaming as a career now,” said Harshada Sarode, human resource manager at gaming platform PlayerzPot.
“The segment has been increasingly attracting the interest of female gamers as well as of game developers, designers, and marketers through engagement at various levels. Several gaming platforms as well as competitive eSports platforms are actively connecting with female gamers, who are critical influencers for the community at large,” said Neha Singhvi, director of Public Affairs, Communication and CSR at Games24x7.
A recent survey by gaming platform Loco showed that there was a 10-fold rise in the viewership of female streamers in 2022 as compared to 2021. At the same time, the female monthly active users (MAU) saw steady three-fold growth.
Not just in the jobs, gaming is also helping change the perception of women by breaking the stereotypes.
According to Jyoti Gupta, vice-president of engineering at Zupee, “The gaming industry can provide female characters with diverse and empowering roles that can serve as positive role models for women and girls. This representation can help challenge gender stereotypes and promote more inclusive and diverse narratives”.
This is also fostering a sense of empowerment in women gamers.
Despite all the developments, however, the representation of women in leadership positions still remains less impressive.
“Although the number of women participating in the industry is increasing, the representation of women in leadership positions in online gaming is still low and this under-representation makes it difficult for many to envision themselves in leadership roles,” said Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder at WinZO games.
The main reason why there are still not many women leading gaming companies is the lack of role models.
“You don’t find many women leaders who have been able to pave the way for or attract a lot of female counterparts and resources who are able to grow within that organisation and an environment which does not feel like a boy’s club,” Rathore added.
Experts also suggested several ways in which companies can encourage more women to take up leadership roles.
“To inspire a new generation of girls we need to get more women in the industry as decision-makers and leaders,” Sarode said.
According to Poonam Kaul, evangelist of Responsible Gaming at E-Gaming Federation, improving female participation would require the development of more women-focused gaming campaigns, enhanced awareness of competitive gaming among women gamers, equitable hiring processes, equal participation opportunities, and grooming of more women to take up different roles.
The survey conducted by Loco showed that the quality of comments and safety on the platform also needs to be monitored closely by the companies to retain female participation.
“It is essential that every person feels safe in this ecosystem, regardless if they are part of it as a gamer or a professional building a career. Having a strict policy toward harassment and malicious content will ensure that women feel safe on these platforms,” said Sarode.
The sector is poised to become one of the largest in the Indian economy. According to a report published by Sequoia and BCG last year, India currently has 300 million gamers and the revenue from the industry is expected to reach $5 billion by 2025 in India. Reports further show that around 45 per cent of users on these platforms are women.
In this, it seems imperative for companies to pay more attention towards women and encourage them to take up leadership roles.
“Tech companies’ responsible actions today will pave the path for women to lead innovation tomorrow,” said Akanksha Dhamija, vice president of Growth and Strategy at Zupee.