Epic recently held the first-ever Fornite World Cup in New York City. The event, which awarded $3 million dollars to the winner, served as a representation of the cultural phenomenon that esports have become. 178 Fortnite players qualified to take part in the event. None of them were women.
The creators of Bumble, the female-first dating app, took notice, and teamed up with worldwide esports organization Gen.G to build the world’s first all-female competitive Fortnite team. The team combines some of esport’s most successful female Fortnite players.
Statistically, men and women play games equally these days, but esports still skews radically male. Recently, companies have begun taking steps towards inclusion, and have recruited more women for teams in games like Fortnite. In fact, during the World Cup, the popular FaZe Clan brought on their first female Fortnite player, EwOk.
Now, Gen.G has taken it a step further and built a female-focused Fortnite team. The group began last year with Madison “maddiesum” Mann and Tina “Tinareas” Perez, the latter of whom placed fourth in one of Fortnite’s early Fall Skirmish Events. The team then brought on streamer Kristen “KittyPlays” Valnicek to take the lead on filling out the rest of the roster. They recently rounded out their team with the additions of iiCarlee and hannahhfn.
With such an enormous gender gap in the esports industry, companies like Bumblebee trying to understand what makes it more difficult for women to break in, and are working to turn the tide. According to AdWeek, Bumble has added a feature in their female-forward friendship and dating app that allows women to self-identify as gamers via a badge on their profile. The badge allows gamers to find each other on the app, and allows women to treat their interest in gaming as a point of pride.
This encouragement and positivity creates a safe environment where women can feel confident in their passion for gaming. When asked, many women point to online harassment as the number one reason they feel discouraged to pursue pro-level play. Initiatives like the one from Bumble and Gen.G help women feel like they have a place in competitive play. It's not just in the esports community, either. Some Twitch streamers recently announced a charity event that will oppose online harassment.
As exemplified by this new team and the recent addition of EwOk to FaZe Clan, pro-level players can be men or women. The toxicity in the community makes it more difficult for women to stand out, but it seems that if high-profile teams just looked a little harder, they could double their pool of potential pros.
Fortnite is out now in early access for Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.