Playing video games for a living may be the idea of a dream job for some, but for many men and women around the globe this dream is fast becoming a reality. Organised, competitive computer gaming is an industry growing at an exponential rate and playing computer games in front of a live audience of millions of people can provide a lucrative income for these lucky few.
However, although some women are active participants in eSports, like other traditional sports there is still a disparity between the numbers of men and women earning the big bucks. It still appears to be male professional gamers stealing the limelight with not a single woman on the list of the 100 highest earning players in 2017.
The hard facts
As with most other professions worldwide, women’s pay is significantly and unfairly disparate. E-sportsearnings.com published their list of the top players who won the most prize money in 2018. The results are as follows:
As the highest earning female professional gamer, Canadian born Sasha Hostyn aka ‘Scarlett’, 25, notable for her performance in StarCraft II, earned a sizeable $270,759 last year.
However, her male counterpart, Germany’s Kuro Takhasomi aka ‘Kuroky’, also 25, earned a staggering 12 times that sum, amassing a fortune of $3,586,277 for his performance in Dota 2.
So why are there so few female pro gamers commanding these huge sums for doing what they love?
One reason might be that the typical gamer and audience is still perceived as predominantly male. However, women like League of Legends fanatic Imane Anys aka ‘Pokimane’, a 21-year-old ex-Chemical Engineering student with 900,000 followers on Twitch and over 1.2m subscribers on YouTube might argue that this is something that is set to change.
People tune in to Pokimane for her skilled video gameplay and good-humoured jokes. Pokimane acknowledges that being a female gamer comes with its own challenges. The gaming world is dominated by male viewers and Twitch, the live streaming website where she has earned her dedicated subscribers remains a male-dominated platform.
Pokimane is just one of many popular female streamers on Twitch, with a lot of others being the destination for thousands of spectators to watch their favourite games played at varied skill levels. Whilst these streamers are not professional eSports athletes, their presence on the website proceeds to propel the reputation and value of female gamers further.
Often defined by their sex, female gamers cite sexist abuse and misogyny as an additional hurdle they must overcome in the online world. It is rare for women to stream and not receive an unkind joke or quip in the comments section. But are these comments discouraging women from taking up gaming at a professional level?
Ultimately, the numbers of female gamers will increase as eSports continues to become an increasingly popular alternative to physical sport, and as women become more prevalent in the gaming world, so will their notoriety and in turn th,eir pay should begin to reflect that.