Diversity & Inclusion Becoming a Bigger Focus Within Esports – The Esports Observer|home of essential esports business news and insights

Activision Blizzard Esports Head of Global Marketing Kristin Connelly said the first and most critical step in making esports more diverse is to increase access for younger players coming from underrepresented groups. Speaking at the virtual Esports Rising event, Connelly said, “It just starts from being able to access  gaming and esports both at the community level — so perhaps more donations of PCs and games to communities around the country — to amateur leagues being supported.”

Spectacor Gaming Communications Manager Kelsey Rowley said that to democratize access, esports properties should follow the lead of already established organizations. “You really don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” said Rowley, who also co-founded Spectacor’s women-in-gaming initiative FTW. “There’s so much great projects already happening that we’re really looking to expand our partnerships … for young kids to get into gaming from an early age.” Rowley said Spectacor has had discussions with HBCUs and other groups on possible collaborations.

Esports communications consultancy The Story Mob co-Founder Nicola Piggott said there needs to be more gaming content that “reflects the female experience,” and, importantly, that “isn’t token, that doesn’t feel pandering.” Pigott explained, “If we have content that reflects our actual experience, … we’ll be able to balance out the landscape a lot better.” 

Quick Hits: 

Piggott, on the equality gap between the competitive and business sides of esports: “Women are somewhere along their journey, either dissuaded, disappointed, or disillusioned with the idea of a career in pro gaming. And I don’t believe that as a group that we’ve been able to identify and solve that. … But I am really happy with the developments that I see on the business and infrastructure side.” 

Spectacor Gaming Brand Partners Associate and FTW co-Founder Meredith Weber, on the importance of authenticity in branding: “Esports fans can really sniff out BS very quickly, and they’ll call you out for it on social media.” 

Gen.G Esports co-President & COO Arnold Hur, on shifting values in the esports industry: “For the first time, I’m starting to see steps being taken by the industry, by sponsors, by partners, wanting to say, ‘Okay, here’s a problem. What can we do about it?’”

Cloud9 Esports Senior VP/Marketing Kristen Salvatore, on what the industry should strive for in ‘21: “A parity of pay for the same or analogous jobs, parity of opportunity, parity of representation, of different perspective. … I would like to see leagues and teams start to take more active steps toward getting to parity.”

This article originally appeared in Sports Business Daily.

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