Yes, I am a girl! And yes I belong to the gaming space! The relationship between women and video games has always been the topic of debate. Over the years the relationship of women with video gaming has received extensive academic, corporate, and social attention. Earlier in 1990 women involved in the gaming sector were subsidiary, compared to the men. However, over the years the marginal difference in the ratio of women in compared to men has become closer to equal, and since the 2010s, women have made a mark of about half of all gamers. “Gaming has been a male-dominated area of interest traditionally; however, gaming is now welcoming women into its folds with different opportunities across the gaming portfolio. With Scarlet winning the Starcraft Championship at the Olympics to women becoming analysts, casters, observers and content creators,” said Nodwin Gaming operations head Shefali Johnson to us. Speaking about the statistics, according to an Entertainment Software Association survey, women players in the United States increased from 40 per cent in 2010 to 48 per cent in 2014. Today, despite the dominant perception that most gamers are men; the ratio of female to male gamers is kind of parallel to the population at large. “Over the last decade, the world of gaming has taken strides to transform the industry which is more inclusive of women. The ongoing journey of equality for women in the gaming industry is taking a leap towards enabling great minds. It is quite liberating to be a woman in the game industry. Women identifies and adds a different perspective to every aspect of the game and supports the fact that fresh minds bear great ideas” said Unity Technology head- marketing (India subcontinent) Shruti Verma . Women in the Indian gaming industry are a plunge into entrepreneurship for both pull and push factors. Pull factors is the unconventional encouragement that women are receiving over the past few years to commence occupation or venture from the industry it has urged them to create something innovative as an independent for the gaming ecosystem. “It’s an awesome feeling to be a woman entrepreneur and explore gaming. I feel the love industry gives me every day and grateful for all the wonderful opportunities! ‘Courage to dream, calmness to visualise and patience for success’ is the mantra, I believe and follow every day in my life,” says BigCode Games managing director Vaishnavi Palleda. On the other hand push factors refers to those factors which empower women to take up their own business despite all the challenges and responsibilities that a woman faces every day in her life. With growing awareness about entrepreneurship and the Indian gaming market over the years, women are transforming into superwoman with their innovative business plans and setting milestones in the industry. Bangalore based gaming studio, Mech Mocha, has shifted from a gaming studio to a digital multi-game platform which aims to make India play with unparalleled local relevance of vernacular users. As MechMoch CEO Arpita Kapoor says “Vernacular market in India is moving very fast and as an entrepreneur, this is the best time to be an entrepreneur in this space.” Like men, women have everything from knowledge to skill to lead the gaming industry with equal passion and enthusiasm. It is only a matter of awareness and the curiosity in women to identify the power they own. As Palleda believes, “Only matter is awareness, time and aspirations! The trend is changing; women ratio is growing in gaming industry. There is a lot of scopes to explore and make a mark in gaming!” Johnson further shared her experience working closely with some of the leading female talents in esports and gaming industry. Also stating that she is proud to witness that women are entering the gaming industry with key roles and responsibility, for instance as Dota 2 casters, analysts, cosplayers, esports operations individuals and hosts. She further emphasised that, “We also see a change in the community wherein our events we used to have 5 per cent female audiences to this, which became closer to 20 per cent in our recent events over the last six months. We see great content creators and influencers coming out of the gaming community and we are all the better for it.” Women are often categorised as soft gamers since they prefer story-driven games or constructive games like The Sims or Civilization, but this is not universally true. In 2013, a media company reported that thirty per cent of women were playing more hardcore games. Of this 30 per cent, 20 per cent played Call of Duty and 15 per cent played Grand Theft Auto. There has been persistent female interest in action-adventure games and MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Second Life. Compared to men, female MMORPG players tend to place more emphasis on socialisation relative to achievement-oriented play. This emphasis on socialisation extends beyond just the game itself: In a study published in the Journal of Communication in 2009, researchers found that 61 per cent of female MMORPG players played with a romantic partner, compared to 24 per cent of men. Even at the technology front women have always put their best foot forward equally as men according to Verma ,“Gaming industry is always in the forefront in adopting new technologies. Whether it is game design, or an art or the narrative of the game, women have the capability to leverage the new technologies, learn, adapt and innovate in the industry. I look forward to inspiring more women to take up game development as a profession and add value to the ever-growing ecosystem.” Also one of the biggest drawbacks of the industry is that no matter how much women try to put their best foot forward for an inspiring journey there are always hindrances in the ecosystem which puts blockages in the form of sexist and judgemental remarks. The same has been the experience for Shagufta Iqbal, who is a streamer ( Apex legends, PUBG, CSGO and so on), influencer and associated with an esports organisation called Entity gaming. “Even though the gaming industry is dominated by males, I have put my name up there with all the males! I do receive some mean comments but I just ignore and I don’t let it affect me since at the end of the day, I love gaming and nobody can stop me from doing what I love.” These women have definitely created a name for themselves in different aspects of the gaming industry and we are sure there are many, many more who keep their head held high and the passion for gaming intact. To all those women out there, Happy Women’s Day!