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Online Gaming Is Only For Men? Think Again Once considered a novelty reserved for males, online gaming has seen the number of woman players growing steadily due to ease of access, incentivization and awareness.

By Debroop Roy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Ibakordor Kalah Lynser, a 24-year-old resident of Bengaluru, has earned over INR 1 lakh through a secondary source of income over the last couple of years. And it isn't any of the many ways that one would commonly think.

These earnings for her have come from playing online games. Among one of the earliest users of Mobile Premier League (MPL), a platform that offers a plethora of games, fantasy sports and quizzes, Lynser hails from Meghalaya and works full-time as a nursing school teacher.

Lynser is among several others—a lot of them women—who have taken up online gaming as more than a mere hobby and have managed to make a mark.

"Gaming has traditionally been perceived as male-dominated and like with all stereotypes, it will take time and effort to change the narrative; however, there are plenty of signs that the narrative is changing," says Sai Srinivas, co-founder and chief executive officer at MPL.

The Bengaluru-based company has recently initiated a dedicated WhatsApp group for its female users where they can directly get in touch with the liaison officer to solve any issues that they may be facing.

Ashish Bhakuni, head of marketing at Adda52Rummy, is of similar opinion and believes earlier games were also designed to cater to a certain audience. "The expansion of the gaming genre has led to more women playing games, I would say about 30 per cent of gamers today are women," he says.

Accessibility and Incentivization

A major reason, according to industry insiders, for the number of women in gaming going up is the ease of access.

"The opportunities for physical gaming were limited for women in the years gone by and it is now with the playing field moving to a digital domain that we are seeing an increase in the participation," says Varun Mahna, founder at PokerDangal.

The number of female users at PokerDangal has surged by 500 per cent in the last year alone with more than 80 per cent of them being below the age of 25. Female players on the platform have won more than 15 tournaments in the same period. This year, the numbers are expected to triple.

Bhakuni feels more women are taking up gaming because they are financially savvy and independent. "When the opportunity presents itself to make real money using inherent talent, many women don't hold back."

At MPL, Sai says one of the things that has helped more women come to the platform and succeed is incentivization.

"By bringing games of skill and monetisation to women gamers, we want to do all we can to give them an opportunity to be financially independent and increase their income," he says.

However, Nishtha Gupta, co-founder at Noida-based Rein Games, says one should not always be calling out the lack of females. She says, "The primary objective is that women should work in fields/verticals where they enjoy themselves."

Not Limited To Big Cities

This growth in the number of female gamers online is not limited to just the tier-I cities.

9stacks, a poker platform, sees 26 per cent of its women audience coming from tier-II cities, while another 37 per cent comes from tier-III, tier-IV and even rural areas.

"With mobile gaming growing in a big way, gaming in general is moving from being a metro-centered activity to tier-II and tier-III cities and even beyond, our user base in general comes from all over the country," says Sai.

Bringing Parity

While the growth is encouraging, there's a lot that needs to be done to bring parity to these numbers.

Apart from the awareness and education around online gaming, which can be done by making them aware of how it could potentially benefit them, there is also the need to shatter myths, says Bhakuni.

"To encourage even more women to become gamers, we need to shatter the myth that women look after the home while men go to work. This myth is already on the decline across India. It somehow needs to be expedited."

According to Shudhir Kamath, the founder and CEO of 9stacks, in order to get more women to online gaming, there needs to be a bigger focus on advertising and promotions targeted at women.

"We need more women mascots and brand ambassadors who will encourage other women to pick up the sport," says PokerDangal's Mahna.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.

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