Marta J. August 8, 2019
One of the esports industry’s largest organizations is branching out further, and is heading in a surprising direction.
Gen.G has teamed up with women-focused dating app developer Bumble. The partnership’s first order of business is the reveal of an all-female Fortnite team, Team Bumble.
“Within Gen.G and beyond, we are building a platform that reflects and enthusiastically champions the diversity of our global fan base,” Gen.G CEO Chris Park said in a statement. “Bumble’s partnership with Gen.G will create more inclusive, supportive environments in which all passionate esports athletes can compete and connect.”
Popular streamer and Gen.G’s head of new gaming initiatives Kristen “KittyPlays” Valnicek will work with Bumble to create new content "including co-hosted events, live-streaming opportunities and more." She will also play in Team Bumble alongside Madison "maddiesuun" Mann, Tina "TINARAES" Perez, Carlee "Carlee" Gress and Hannah "Hannah" Reyes.
Gender equality in esports
While various studies have shown that women make up a substantial portion of the gaming audience, few have competed at the professional level.
Debate has long raged as to why this is the case, but all signs point to online harassment as a significant factor. The Anti-Defamation League has found that a significant percentage of women have experienced gender-based harassment online, with an even higher percentage experiencing harassment in online gaming. Coupled with this are regular viral videos of female players being harassed in-game, and esports casters and personalities experiencing sexual harassment both online and in-person.
Progress has been slow but women are starting to find better support from prominent esports organizations and tournament organizers. Women have appeared under bright spotlights in recent years with Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn well-established as a top StarCraft II player and Se-yeon "Geguri" Kim competing at the highest levels throughout Overwatch’s history.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, but organizations like Gen.G putting women in a better position to succeed will only help.