The second edition of the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival is being held this year in Lisbon, Portugal on July 20-22. GIRLGAMER is a festival that supports and celebrates women’s inclusion in competitive gaming and esports. Scheduled events include an esports business conference, competitions in both Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends, and a public Clash Royale tournament.
GIRLGAMER Esports Festival is put on in conjunction with Grow uP eSports, a multinational organization with 15 years of experience in the esports industry. “The underlying idea of GIRLGAMER was born from the belief that esports competitions should be universal and inclusive. However, the female representation in the professional esports scene is still very low. Therefore, as a way to develop and motivate women’s competitiveness, we have created GIRLGAMER,” said Telmo Silva, CEO of Grow uP eSports.
Photo Credit: The Esports Observer
In addition, this year the Festival is sponsored by Sephora, marking the first time that the beauty and cosmetic retailer has endorsed an esports event.
“We believe that, just as in the beauty market, gaming is no longer represented nor limited by genders. As a trendsetter brand and promoter of differentiating experiences, we are pleased to partner up with GIRLGAMER!” said Paula Rocha, Marketing Director for Sephora.
While the partnership between Sephora and the GIRLGAMER festival makes sense (the message of the event aligns nicely with the spirit of Sephora’s brand), it is still notable whenever a big name, non-endemic sponsor enters the industry.
“Girls have been into gaming for a long time, and we’re happy to recognize that. One can conquer the perfect eyeliner flick and the final boss level,” the Sephora Twitter account recently tweeted.
Photo Credit: Intel IQ Australia
This is actually not the first time that a cosmetics company has partnered with a video game brand. Shu Uemura, a Japanese luxury beauty line, joined with Nintendo in 2017 to create a Super Mario Bros. line of themed products. Their offerings included Peach’s Eye and Cheek Palette, rouge available in “Stage Cleared” and “Saved Peach” colors, and a Super Mario Bros. themed collectable makeup box. Around the same time, Sephora countered by releasing pop culture-themed face masks (including Sonic the Hedgehog and Power Rangers) for its GlamGlow line.
Sephora is owned by LVMH, a French luxury brand that also owns other beauty brands, such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Fendi, and watch and fashion accessory brand TAG Heuer. And LVMH is not new to esports – TAG Heuer sponsors the Virtual Bundesliga, an esports tournament that serves as a qualifier for the FIFA eWorld Cup. However, when you consider the underrepresentation of women in esports, having Sephora step up as a sponsor – not to mention the very existence of GIRLGAMER Esports Festival – is a huge milestone.
Esports is a largely male-dominated industry. Even though between 40 and 48 percent of adult women enjoy playing video games (the number has fluctuated throughout surveys over the past decade), it is estimated that only five percent of pro gamers are female. And, while esports is a competitive industry where everyone gets barbs thrown their way, the harassment faced by female gamers tends to be particularly extreme and toxic.
This harassment can become even more noxious when extended beyond the confines of esports and into the broader gaming community, as evidenced by a recent occurrence with the popular Twitch streamer AnneMunition. She was taking a break from her Twitch channel, playing a game of Rainbow Six Siege, when she started calling shots over voice chat, and the other players realized she was a woman.
Photo Credit: Kotaku
“Are you playing the right video game, miss?” one male player asked. “This isn’t like League of Legends … It takes skill.” (Editor’s note – seriously, even without the misogyny and the stupidity of this comment is still astonishing.)
Over the course of several rounds, the players inundated her with offensive comments and shocking insults. AnneMunition finished the game, and then decided to post a video of the incident (warning: that link and the imbedded video contain NSFW language) to Twitter as an example of the everyday harassment female gamers face.
“As you saw in the video, that’s all it took for them to devolve into toxicity. While I understand everyone, of all genders and backgrounds, can often be the subject of toxicity online, I really feel like people underestimate just how bad it can be for women or people who are recognized as ‘other’ over voice comms,” she said.
“I’m just sick of sweeping this behavior under the rug and pretending it’s all fine and dandy,” she said. “It’s easy to sweep things under the rug; it’s hard to ask people to be better. Especially when so many people are just resigned to accepting the fact that online gaming and toxicity go hand-in-hand. Maybe that makes me a naive fool, but I refuse to accept that we can’t treat each other with a little more kindness.”
And that’s the real message behind the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival – to acknowledge and celebrate women in esports. The three-day event will feature a conference that focuses on the esports industry and challenges and potential it faces in the immediate future, as well as several keynotes that will “present investment opportunities and successful international case studies.”
Photo Credit: Red Bull
Popular female CS:GO team Dignitas fe will return to compete after winning the 2017 invitational. The teams they will compete against include the popular RES squad and Copenhagen Games champions Singularity fe.
GIRLGAMER Esports Festival is supported by both the Portugese Institute of Sports and Youth and the Portugal-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The first festival was held last year in Macua, China and was broadcast worldwide, where it garnered over 1.4 million views online. This year it is being held in the Casino Estoril, the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel “Casino Royale.”
“We’ve been considering the best way to get involved with new entertainment trends, and we’re so pleased to host an international event like the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival for such a noble cause as inclusion, in our prestigious venue. It is perfectly aligned with the type of events we want to have in Casino Estoril,” said Nuno Sardinha, Sales Manager for Casino Estoril.
Removing toxicity from esports and online gaming in general is becoming a priority for the industry. As esports grows in audience and popularity, it finds itself on a broader stage, which means that an experience like AnneMunition’s tweeted Rainbow Six Siege game will become bigger news. It’s news that the industry doesn’t want and can’t afford.
Events like GIRLGAMER Esports Festival are the perfect counter. These celebrations allow the industry to genuinely embrace and celebrate diversity, which is the only true way for it to expand. They also encourage sponsors that otherwise may not have been interested, like Sephora, to enter the fray.
For more on our thoughts about the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival and supporting diversity in the esports industry, give eGency Global a call at 972-323-6354.