May 13, 2022
On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) co-hosted a “#Strong Economies: Leveling Up the World of Esports” webinar with Women In Government, which featured an all-female panel of experts who shared their perspectives on the evolving world of competitive gaming and the increasing opportunities for esports to be more inclusive and accessible for all players.
The discussion was moderated by Amanda Martin from the ESA Government Affairs team and included Kathryn “Kat” De Shields-Moon, Public Relations Manager for Schell Games, Audrey Cech, Global Head of Rules and Compliance for Riot Games, Daryl Vales, Global Partnerships for Evil Geniuses, and Lori Shephard, Production Manager at *gameHERs.
As the popularity of competitive gaming continues to grow in the United States and throughout the world, the panel discussed several initiatives that are underway to include more women in the sport and acknowledged that “conversation does nothing unless youtake meaningful action behind it,” said De Shields-Moon.
“We need allies to be in the space to help us create that space to let us show up at the table,” said De Shields-Moon. “But, we also have to believe in ourselves that we can change the world and that we can do great things. If we want to do this, we absolutely can and should.”
One of the proactive inclusivity measures taken has been the partnership between the Pittsburgh Knights, a premier esports team in Pennsylvania, and PNC Bank, which is also headquartered in the state. Both organizations have joined forces to launch a Women in Esports Initiative with the goal of supporting gender equality in the sport.
“The focus of that was to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and really create some programming and structure around creating tournaments for women, but also creating an education pipeline as well, because there’s so much that still needs to be learned or experienced or seen for people to really, really grasp esports the way it has been overseas, and especially for women,” said De Shields-Moon, who is also host of the Pittsburgh Knights “Empowering Women in Esports” podcast series.
Shephard also mentioned that *gameHERs created an initiative that helps support and attract more female gamers into esports and video game programs at colleges and universities, which has allowed her to see that “more and more women now than ever before are involved.”
“It’s still very much a male dominated industry. So, we need less talk and more action. Diversity also provides inclusion. So that’s something that we’re seeing more as we go forward and increasing the numbers. So those in power financially and from an influential position, we have to advocate for more dollars being allocated to women’s teams, for tournaments, for sponsorships, prizes, and to foster skill development for both players and coaches to increase the opportunities for roles and women in the industry,” said Shephard. “We can do better.”
To view the entire panel discussion, please click here.