Female Professional Gamers Are on The Rise in S’pore. Here’s What You Should Know

Think it’s only the guys play games?

Then think again, because girls are definitely part of the equation.

While they are undeniably the minority – seeing how vast the population of guy gamers is in Singapore – they are certainly not non-existent.

In fact, with the increase in all-female tournaments and competitive gaming teams – such as Asterisk and Chaos Theory –  and streaming platforms like Twitch and Facebook Live, female gamers have been popping out faster than the average childbirth rate in China.

Image: Chaos Theory
Image: Tech In Asia

So admit it; gamer girls are real. Very real.

That’s like a dream come true.

But that’s not why you should underestimate them. Definitely not. In fact, they might just pwn your ass. Yep, I said it.

She might be your boss at work

24-year-old female gamer Calyn Koh will probably upstage you, in both online multi-player game Overwatch, and in terms of monetary income. In reality, she holds a job as a marketing executive.

36-year-old Elicia Lee is the founder of gaming convention GameStart Asia, and is an avid gamer: she has played World of Warcraft for nine years.

Yeap Su Fern, a 27-year-old gamer who works for e-gaming company Garena as its partnerships manager, has played Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) for 12 years and counting.

The point: she might be your boss at work.

To drive the point home: she would probably kill you three times in a row in the virtual world too.

Nerdy and not well-groomed? Pssh piss off!

Gamer girls, contrary to popular belief, do not look like stereotypical gamer girls.

Some might look like Jessica Alba.

Some might behave like Miley Cyrus (of old).

Some might be as talkative as Jason Statham.

Some might have a hairstyle like Donald Trump.

My point? There’s no fixed structure for a gamer girl.

Ms Koh is one prime example. She has encountered peers who perceive female gamers as being “introverted and not well-groomed”.

“I think the stereotypes definitely still exist. When I tell someone new whom I’ve just met that I’m a gamer, the response is usually that I do not look like one.”

You never know; Halimah Yacob might just be that camper who sniped you for a successive third time in Counterstrike.

And Tony Tan is the feeder in your team who died like 12 consecutive times because he thought your grenade was a health item.

Why would females play games? For the attention?

While there are undeniably females who take to games for attention (which I will go through later on), there are also those who pursue games with much more subtle intentions.

Social Activities

According to Ms Yeap, online gaming is a social thing, and it’s why they are so addictive.

Sometimes it’s not just about playing the games alone but also spending the time to get to know other people within the game.

It’s a good way to get to know people as sometimes I’d make in-game friends first and then after spending hours in that game, I’d meet them in a cafe or coffee shop and even address each other by our in-game name rather than real-life name.”

(Gaming) is a great way to meet people who do not judge you based on how much you earn, or where you work at or even what you’re studying. It is a non-judgmental bubble where all these fellow gamers would come from different walks of life.”

Ms Koh agreed.

Many people think that gamers are introverts and have no social life but that is definitely not true. I have made so many new friends through online gaming – friends not only from Singapore but all over the world. For example, we once had a video Skype call with seven of us all from different countries.”

That’s still the virtual world, you scoff in response. There’s no real social interaction involved.

Well, Ms Koh actually hangs out with her Overwatch buddies in real life. It’s not the occasional thing either; it’s a frequent thing.

“Not only have some of us met in real life, most of us do so regularly. With my Overwatch buddies, we have even had barbeque sessions and pizza nights. We also hang out at bars and coffee shops for ice-cold beers.”

Image: Calyn Koh

Not exactly stereotypical gamer stuff, eh?

But of course, there are also those who enjoy the games for the purest of reasons.

Gaming

Calyn has played games since she was seven, and it stuck with her throughout the years. She likes FPS games in particular, as she finds the gameplay “immersive“, “engaging” and “challenging“.

21-year-old Bianca Lai started off by watching her brother play games like MapleStory and Gunbound, and dabbled in it herself when she was in Primary School. She never looked back after that.

Image; CNA

Monetization

And there’s the… money part. Like everything else.

Team Asterisk co-founder Tammy Tang believes that the advent of live streaming has created a platform for female gamers to bask in attention.

They have always been glamorised. Even back in the early 2000s, there was huge support for female teams and female-only competitions.”

Image: CNA

With the ascending popularity of live-streaming applications like Twitch, Youtube and Facebook Live, gamers can utilise their success, personality and looks to draw attention. Income would subsequently follow, either through ad revenue, paid subscriptions, sponsorships, or everything.

And this is where the path diverges. There are those who are legitimately good at the game they are playing, and those who “are more like influencers rather than good players.”

Image: CNA

According to Elicia Lee, some female gamers cash in on their celebrity status, like social media influencers.

Some gaming companies even hire influencers, who don’t really play the game, to market their products. I think it’s down to culture and what the target market wants, but at the end of the day, gaming is still pretty much a male-oriented landscape.

So… will there be even more female gamers in the future?

Elicia certainly believes so.

Nowadays, I definitely am seeing more and more legit girl gamers coming out into the open. I also foresee more females working in the gaming industry in different roles … even in game development, which was very much male-oriented in the past.

Ms Lai thinks so too.

“Gamer girls are more common now than it was years ago, definitely. I believe the stereotype that only guys can play online games isn’t as widely believed now. As a result, more girls are willing to try their hand at e-gaming without the fear of getting mocked.”

What does it mean for the future?

Well… firstly, more females will be joining the gaming industry. Yeah I know, Captain Obvious.

Secondly, Gaming might actually have a place in the list of ‘official jobs’ in the future.

If you think about it, it’s not actually that far-fetched. There have already been individuals who game for a living, and there are cash pools that could make you an instant millionaire just from winning a single competition.

The gaming market’s actually really profitable, and it’s just up to us how we want to utilise it.

I mean; just look at football. Who would have ever expected a game where 22 players fight tooth and claws for a single ball, to become so damn lucrative?

Thirdly, games could take an innovative turn. Because the gaming industry’s been dominated by the male population for so long, games have more often than not been engineered from a male’s perspective.

However, with the influx of females in the industry, games could have even more space for progression, and new ideas could form.

So yeah; the future looks bright for the gaming industry. I actually kind of regret turning my back on it years ago.

Hmm… maybe it’s time to join back?

You know what they say: “It’s never too late.”

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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Featured Image: techinasia.com

Zhi Hao

Zhi Hao

Just your average Singaporean guy who tends to write aimlessly, work out inefficiently and sleep soundlessly.
Zhi Hao