Daria Balakina is the CSR manager at EX CORP., a company developing technological solutions in the competitive gaming market. Her previous job positions were related to youth and academic publishing, culture and literature of indigenous peoples of the North, and science and technology studies. After being a programme director of the biggest pop science festival in the Post-Soviet space, she started working as a researcher and partnership manager to promote equality within IT and competitive gaming markets. Her main research interest is equitable access to opportunities in the spheres with a high level of inequality.
Alesha Serada is a PhD student and a researcher at the University of Vaasa, Finland. Their dissertation, supported by the Nissi Foundation, discusses construction of value in games and art on blockchain. Inspired by their Belarusian origin, their research interests revolve around exploitation, violence, horror, deception and other banal and non-banal evils in visual media.
Vicious Circles in Women’s CS:GO Scene: Tournament Economy and Professional Requirements
FROG 2022 – Talk
Since 2003, the primary goal of women-only CS tournaments has been to boost women’s esports and to encourage more women to play competitively. And yet, 20 years later, it has still not been achieved, despite the efforts of women pro players and other industry actors. Esports is still primarily perceived as a ‘boys’ thing’ by most of the industry stakeholders, and the number of women playing competitively is still incomparable to men. Why does the esports landscape remain hostile to women, despite the industry’s self-representation as meritocratic? Drawing on 13 qualitative interviews with women pro-players specializing in CS:GO from 5 countries, the analysis of prize pool data, and a systematic literature review, this paper argues that women are facing a variety of barriers preventing them from integration into the gaming community, thereby drastically reducing the opportunities of professionalization that are available to them. These barriers include: (1) internal struggle and community requirements; (2) toxicity of the gaming community; (3) unequal treatment and lack of emotional support; (4) insufficient financial means; (5) limited competitive opportunities; (6) distorted media representation. The paper concludes with some suggestions of how to overcome these barriers.