Female pro gamers earn less than male gamers, data shows
Female gamers are on the rise with nearly half of the world’s gamers now female. Some become successful female gaming influencers and personalities, others are making it in esports. As the esports industry continues its rapid rise, bringing in money and influence seemingly at a fast rate, it has shed light on the issue of wealth inequality among female competitors.
According to a study of the richest players and most profitable games, women rank nowhere close to the top 100 males, with a remarkable gap between them.
Data from esportsearnings.com shows that the highest-paid esports player, Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, a professional Dota 2 player from Denmark has won more than $7 million throughout the course of his career for winning over 100 events.
Sundstein is followed in the rankings by 30 other male Dota 2 players. But even when more popular games appear on the list, such as Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, men still dominate.
Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn is the first woman to appear at #367. Since 2011, Hostyn has received around $400,000 in prize money, a far cry compared to the millions collected by men in her position.
In addition to Hostyn, only two other women have made six-figure winnings. Katherine “Mystik” Gunn has competed in multiple games, while Xiao Meng “Liooon” Li won the Hearthstone grandmasters global finals in 2019. They are ranked #1,478 and #760, respectively.
Discrimination towards female gamers
Although the study did not go into detail about what may be producing such a large disparity, many esports communities have shown hostility towards women and the toxicity directed at females goes far beyond what is expected.
Molly “Avalla” Kim has admitted to receiving hurtful comments on the internet about her looks. Kate Mitchell, general manager of esports team Washington Justice, retired after stating that her mental health declined after receiving “toxicity and casual cruelty from strangers” over the internet. “
Misogyny in gaming is related to and compounded by sexism in the wider culture. In-game chats, voices perceived as female are often harassed many times more than those perceived as male.
Team unity often requires women to be able to use these features freely, so it is difficult for them to reach the top levels if their team becomes uncooperative or abusive. To avoid negativity, many female players simply prefer to not talk during the game, which makes it hard for them to enjoy the game and interferes with their ability to play well.
Since women are discouraged, gatekept, or forced to retire early from positions in esports, they are less likely to compete in and win tournaments that make their winners millionaires.
Challenge to fix the problem
Kruthika NS, a visual artist and gender in sports specialist, says fixing those systemic problems won’t be easy. The industry needs to acknowledge their existence. Improving the communities of the games must be the starting point for any attempt to address the current unwelcoming atmosphere. There is an urgent need to come up with a code of conduct that addresses issues such as sexism, homophobia, casteism, and racism.
Enforcing and implementing these codes of conduct is a major challenge. But developers have been working on solutions for some time, which, if properly prioritized, could radically improve their games’ cultures.