Indian gamer girls battle rape threats, abuse, unfair playing field
When Sonali Singh was little, she would beg then brawl with her brother for a turn on his video games. Her mother would broker peace by handing Singh a story book.
“It’s our Indian culture. Girls don’t play games,” Singh said.
Fast forward to adulthood and Singh now works remotely as a software engineer for a big US university, adding an extra 50-60% to her already high earnings playing video games by night.
Singh’s success comes as India’s $1.5-billion-dollar gaming industry grows rapidly and opens up – slowly – to a generation of women and girls who play, earn and even date via video games.
But female players say they face a barrage of abuse when they talk to fellow gamers online, with rape threats a daily hazard.
Add to that abuse the vastly lower prizes offered in female tournaments, and gamers and industry experts say the eplaying field is far from fair, despite all the gains made.
“Women are carving out a space for themselves in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men,” said Salone Sehgal, founding general partner of Lumikai, a gaming-focused venture capital fund.
According to a recent report released by Lumikai, 43% of India’s 507 million gamers are female – the first year they have counted players by gender.
With 27.3% of…