Mehul Ruben DasAugust 29, 2022 15:16:09 IST
For a long time, gaming has been the domain of men. We’ve had a few female gamers who competed professionally and later became very successful content creators, but most if not all of them were from South East Asian, American, or European countries. The Indian players were nowhere to be seen.
However, this scenario has changed rapidly in the last two years. We’ve had some really successful female players competing at the highest level and emerging as serious content creators. Furthermore, women are also participating in game development in India which has led to some really unique and progressive perspectives in the industry. Tech brands are also stepping up and sponsoring more and more female gamers.
We had a chat with Sooraj Balakrishnan, Marketing Director of Acer India, and discussed the challenges women face when it comes to gaming in India and taking it on as a serious career, the inclusion of esports as a medal event in the 19th Asian Championship. Games, and how that will boost the gaming industry in India. Edited excerpts:
Gaming, whether mobile, console, or desktop, has long been perceived as a male domain. Is the situation changing in India?
Yes, there has been a change in the way games are perceived today. I think it’s not about gender anymore but about the opportunities and the means that are available to people. Traditionally, gaming was perceived as a male-dominated industry, with most men taking center stage when it came to gaming. However, today there is a change in the narrative and the increasing degree of women’s participation is encouraging and a testament that the situation is changing in India.
There is also the fact that people’s mindsets have evolved over the years. Today there is acceptance, and the game is not pigeonholed as a thing for men. Brands and even the government are encouraging women to participate in esports and other gaming tournaments. So yes, the perception has changed and women in video games will continue to increase in the near future.
In India, what percentage of gamers are women?
According to ‘Think with Google APAC – Play like a Girl Report 2022’, 18% of all gamers in India are female. And the interesting fact is that the number of women is increasing at a faster rate than the number of male gamers in India. The same study also highlights that over 43% of the Indian smartphone gamer population were female and this is true across all age groups. This is a great and positive sign for the representation of women in the gaming industry. The rise of online gaming has proven to be a positive boost for female gamers.
What are the challenges faced by female players in India?
The gaming industry today is witnessing an increasing number of female gamers, not only at the player level but also at the developer level. These women are just as competitive as their male counterparts and are making their presence felt in the industry. However, there is no denying that breaking the monotony of a male-dominated industry is a challenge. In general, convincing and making the family understand that you are a gamer is difficult, regardless of gender. But I think for female gamers it becomes more challenging because society is not used to women playing games, especially if you want to make it a career. So they may face more obstacles in comparison, but again, it depends on the people. With gaming gaining visibility and recognition, people will be more accepting of gaming as a career for both genders.
Other challenges women have faced include online harassment, the gender pay gap and ignoring women as a target group as most games are designed with the male audience in mind. However, according to me, as the industry evolves and more women go into gaming and become a part of games in development, the scenario will change for the better.
How do we get women to participate more in gaming and embrace it as a legitimate career?
I think a slow change is taking place. Today, leading brands and companies are actively encouraging female gamers to get involved in gaming through different initiatives and campaigns. The fact that there is a constant increase in female gamers also means that women are actively participating in the games. The popularity of online gaming is also helping that progress.
Gaming doesn’t just seem like a hobby, but women today are pursuing a career in it. From professional gamers and game designers to programmers, all avenues are open for women to pursue a career. As mentioned before, the inclusion of esports as a medal event in the 19th Asian Games will also help encourage women to pursue gaming as a career.
Is there a difference in the different game genres that men and women like to play? If yes, what genres of games are women most attracted to?
I think it depends on preferences and it is not possible to differentiate according to the genre of the games. It depends from person to person. Ideally, it could be said that men are more attracted to action games and women to puzzles or games that stimulate the brain more than gore and violence. But that can’t be proven because there are women who like action games and men who solve mysteries and puzzles. So I don’t think you can group them according to gender, it’s more based on personal preference.
Hobbyist and amateur gaming lobbies have a very vitriolic culture, especially in terms of the language used. How can game developers make sure this is a safe space for women?
According to me, technology has proven to be a solution to deal with many things today. Similarly, AI can be used to block offensive language in games. There is software available that does exactly that. Call the offensive word during the game. I think this can be further developed as well and developers can add a feature where they have the option to report the incident and ensure that strict action is taken on complaints so that no one can abuse or make players feel unsafe.
Electronic sports have been included as a medal event in the XIX Asian Games. How will this affect gaming, especially in India? Will Acer sponsor any teams at the event?
I think the inclusion of esports as a medal event will help boost and encourage people planning to pursue esports as a career. In India, esports is slowly becoming one of the most sought after professions among today’s youth. Even though the industry is relatively new, there is huge potential in terms of popularity, reach, and even in terms of profit. This increases the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the gaming sector. Low-cost, high-speed Internet has opened up gaming as an avenue of employment.
At Acer, our goal is to develop the esports community as a whole and not just sponsor a team at an event. Global brands like ours in collaboration with government agencies are part of this ecosystem and drive the growth of esports. We see great potential in the esports sector in India in the future.
Acer has been taking some initiatives to make gaming more accessible to women. Can you shed some light on the different initiatives Acer has taken?
Our Predator League is held annually to reinforce the Predator brand’s commitment to supporting the gaming industry and, in the Asia-Pacific region. Predator is the brand with a complete line of gaming devices ranging from laptops, desktops, monitors and accessories, and the Predator series offers the latest gaming technology, created especially to enhance the gaming experience of any hardcore gamer. Starting in 2018, the Predator League ran in Pan Asia Pacific in two phases. In 2019, the transcontinental tournament included more than 10 countries, bringing top-tier talent. This year we have our Predator League from August 12 to September 3, 2022 with the finals taking place in November in Japan. This League brings together gaming enthusiasts, regardless of genre, under one platform and allows them to compete to claim the title.
The league attracts millions of viewers and thousands of players who play for hundreds of hours throughout the month of the festival. This league is a pioneer in the development of the gaming community and is instrumental in the growth of esports in India. In our flagship predator games tournament, we had a women’s exclusive where we saw a large turnout of female players. It was encouraging to see women taking video games seriously. Esport is a very gender-neutral tournament where women can also compete in the same tournament as men, and can also reach the same level of excellence. So it is a very attractive industry for women and we find that more and more women are getting into esports.
We believe that women will play a significant role in the growth of the gaming industry and that the industry will become more gender balanced as we move forward and gaming becomes more mainstream. Acer will continue to invest in the growth of the women’s gaming community.
What’s next for Acer in India, gaming-wise? Will we see more initiatives and points of contact from the company for fans and enthusiasts in India?
At Acer, we always seek to innovate and try to bring the best products to our customers. We have a full stack of gaming laptops, from the Aspire gaming series to the Predator. The Aspire 5 and 7 laptops are ideal for hobbyists and gaming enthusiasts alike.
During our global press conference this year, we also announced the launch of our high-end gaming laptop: Predator Helios 300. This laptop comes with a high refresh rate of 365 Hz, and a line of stereoscopic 3D products is available. expands with a couple of new standalone devices, portable screens for creators and gamers. There are two additions to the product, Acer SpatialLabs Views for personal entertainment and Acer SpatialLabs View Pro for business audiences. This product also brings glasses-free stereoscopic 3D technology to gamers and home entertainment enthusiasts for an immersive gaming experience.