Events Interview South Africa

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Ayanda Allie on Accountability and Performance.

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    Sam 'Tech Girl' Wright on women in gaming and Play Fifa Like A Girl

    Sometimes it can be difficult for a woman to find herself in the gaming space - there are still many stigmas against the idea of women being invested in video games.
    Image supplied: Sam 'Tech Girl' Wright
    Image supplied: Sam 'Tech Girl' Wright

    We still have a lot of work to do to fight this stereotype. However, there are places to start where we can help women become part of communities where they will be supported, respected and welcomed.

    Sam ‘Tech Girl’ Wright is a content creator and esports shoutcaster who has found success in South Africa and Europe. “As I started my commentating career [in South Africa], I have continued to be involved with the local esports scene where I can,” she says.

    And this speaks true - as she has worked with Goliath Gaming, a local multi-gaming organisation, to bring the Play Fifa Like A Girl workshop to life. We spoke with her to find out more about the workshop and what they aim to bring about with it…

    Tell us a bit more about Play Fifa Like A Girl.

    So many South Africans play Fifa, but we don’t usually see women featured in the various competitions we have in the country. I know from my own experience, it can be daunting to compete in a game and sometimes, women feel scared to “put themselves out there” or even pick up a controller and learn.

    With it being International Women’s Day this month, I thought it was a good time to potentially offer a safe space to women looking to learn the game or level up.

    What inspired the inception of this workshop?

    My own experience and the experience of a lot of my friends. We want to play, but we’re sometimes nervous to learn because there is this weird belief that we need to be good, as women get a hard wrap in gaming for not being ‘good enough’.

    More so, South African gamers face some tough challenges when it comes to access to hardware and the cost of data. The idea behind Play Fifa Like A Girl was to not only provide a safe space for women to learn to play and improve their game but also to give women access to consoles and time on them when they might not have that access at home.

    Why do you think it’s important to host workshops and events that promote inclusivity in the gaming space?

    In my opinion, I find the South African gaming space to not be truly reflective of South African gamers. I think workshops and events like Play Fifa Like A Girl allow us to reach out to more gamers and bring them into the space.

    I think a lot of gamers don’t necessarily know the opportunities available in the space - the friends they can make and the various activities in South African gaming. Workshops and events like the one we’re hosting introduce them to a new world of people just as passionate about games as they are.

    Why do you think it’s important to run initiatives that focus on the inclusivity of women in gaming?

    For a long time gaming has felt hostile towards women. It’s downplayed a lot, but I think any lady gamer has experienced it at some point. These sorts of initiatives attempt to break the pattern and, with enough of them, we can start creating a space that is inclusive as opposed to hostile towards women.

    Has your own experience as a woman in gaming inspired you to host initiatives like this? Why?

    Yes. When I started out hosting esports events I received a lot of criticism. Of course I made mistakes but I think as women we’re expected to be better than the best right off the bat. I also dealt with a lot of commentary about my gender.

    While I rose above it, I don’t believe it should be the role of every woman entering the scene to ‘rise above it’ but rather they should be allowed to enter, learn and grow in the gaming space in the same way any male gamer can. No matter their level of skill.

    Tell us about some of the other initiatives you have run.

    In the past, I conceptualised the Valkyrie Challenge alongside Tournament Organiser Mettlestate, which was the first all-women CSGO Invitational event in South Africa. I also ran Acer for Gaming, an all-women gaming night that was a precursor for Play Fifa Like A Girl.

    Do you have any advice for women who would like to enter the gaming scene?

    Don’t be afraid. There are so many women in the space and you are welcome here.

    Play Fifa Like A Girl will be hosted on 12 March from 10am to 1pm at the Ridge Park Sports Club in Turffontein, Johannesburg. The event is exclusive to women and will host about 20 attendees. For more information on the event, go here.

    About Emily Stander

    Freelancer specialising in games and entertainment | My first loves are writing, music and video games
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