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Rise Of The Women Gamers A silent revolution is taking place within the industry, with the mushrooming of women gamers, with a study finding out that 56 per cent of women gamers consider gaming as a career option, with every two in five women gamers participating in online gaming competitions.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

A major reason for the rise of the Indian Esports industry has been the boost in the start-up culture in India, as entrepreneurs have been eager to invest in the industry and create opportunities for players and viewers alike, providing cutting-edge technology and data analytics, platform convenience, marketing solutions and more. With the Indian government playing an active role in supporting the start-up ecosystem through policies such as tax incentives, investment in infrastructure, and support for innovation, a favorable environment has been created for start-ups to flourish and propel the country's Esports industry to a distinguished position in the global gaming market.

But at the same time, another silent revolution is taking place within the industry, with the mushrooming of women gamers, with an HP study finding out that 56 per cent of women gamers consider gaming as a career option, with every two in five women gamers participating in online gaming competitions. When it comes to the gaming genre, women gamers mostly play action/adventure games followed by first-person shooters – which is contrary to societal perceptions. According to the latest Lumikai report, 40 per cent of all global gamers across platforms (PC, console, mobile) are women and the numbers are only expected to be constantly progressing.

The new generation (Gen-Zs and Millennials) are spending more time on gaming as a mainstream form of entertainment, and it is becoming more critical that game makers and creators look more like the audiences. Even though the esports segment is booming the female representation is evidently low and is working hard to catch up with their male counterparts.

In this scenario, one of the most prominent names has been Richa Singh, co-founder and CEO, FanClash, Asia's largest fantasy Esports platform. Richa has debunked the widespread stereotypical notions and proved that women can lead in the business of gaming and become among the key industry players. With a wealth of corporate finance experience from her previous roles, Richa is building FanClash to elevate the Indian startup ecosystem by creating a global product from India for the world. Last year, FanClash, raised $40 million in Series B funding to fuel its mission to build a global Esports fantasy, data, and fan engagement platform. Existing investors along with Matic Networks (Polygon) co-led the latest fundraise. This succeeds a Series A round of $10 million from Sequoia Capital India, Falcon Edge (Alpha Wave Ventures) and Info Edge India in August 2021.

"When I decided to venture into the gaming industry, it was a completely male-dominated space. Women were only allowed to be game designers or artists and had no power over making strategic business decisions or about their own employment. I, myself have faced stereotypes and biases related to the gender on multiple occasions including assumptions that women are less knowledgeable or less competent in the gaming industry, or that they lack the drive and determination necessary to succeed as business leaders. So, while approaching investors, I ensured that the people who were investing in my company knew how important it was for me to build a balanced, inclusive company," Richa told us.

Sticking to these principles, they found investors that were willing to invest in female-run businesses as they have witnessed women successfully leading businesses in India across corporate, government and public sectors in the past few years, particularly in 2022.

It was in 2019 that Richa became deeply involved in the gaming community, first as a player and then as a streamer. She observed that the gaming and streaming landscape was rapidly expanding, with platforms like Twitch and YouTube becoming major players in the industry. Gaming was becoming more than just a hobby, as it was being recognized as a sport, with events like the Asian Games even featuring esports as a medal event. However, there was a gap in the market for organized data in the gaming industry and while the industry had seen significant growth, the data and information about it were not well-structured.

This led Richa and her co-founder Rishabh to identify a white space in the market for building digital products in the gaming industry, specifically in the realm of data and fan engagement. They aimed to fill this gap with FanClash and provide a comprehensive solution for the gaming community by allowing them to monetize their knowledge about the rapidly growing industry of esports with our high-quality data and statistics across every major esports title and their respective global events/tournaments.

The government's official recognition of Esports has certainly been a game changer. The government has made it clear that they are committed to supporting the growth of this industry by appointing the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to oversee all aspects of Esports while also working on a policy for Esports in India. While Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar announced the country's first 'Centre of Excellence' for online gaming in Shillong, the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, Comics (AVGC) taskforce has also suggested launching courses and degrees about gaming in educational institutes to promote it as a viable career choice. This means that the industry now has a sense of legitimacy, leading to an increase in investment from both the public and private sectors. It has increased awareness and visibility of Esports in India by attracting a wider audience and helping to break down various misconceptions about the industry.

But the million dollar question is, what is the role of Fantasy Esports in the gaming ecosystem and does it play a part in making the industry thrive?

Richa explains that just like in traditional sports, fantasy in esports is an exciting new frontier for the gaming industry where players can be their own heroes. It's a great way to get people into the gaming universe and turn their passion for gaming into a monetizable opportunity. Fantasy Esports lets users create their own virtual teams based on their understanding of the industry in order to compete with other players, and win prizes based on the performance of real-life Esports players and teams. This creates a new layer of engagement and excitement for fans, leading to increased interest in the Esports industry. Since most of the user demographic of Esports is the tech-savvy, millennial population, brands also have a keen interest in getting into this space.

The future certainly seems bright, as a majority of Esports viewers in India are Gen Z and Millennials. Especially now, that Esports have been officially recognized by the government and numerous tournaments are around the corner.

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Assistant Editor

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