Women's gaming goes big with international event
Girl Gamer Festival to take SA by storm
This weekend is going to be one for the history books for women gamers in SA. Each of the teams participating, consisting of five players and a coach, will be traveling to Cape Town to compete in an exciting local edition of the Girl Gamer Festival live tournament on June 25-26 which will be live-streamed from start to finish with a star-studded line-up of guests, hosts and esports athletes.
The festival, which was launched in 2017, has been held in Australia, Singapore, Portugal, Spain, South Korea, Brazil and Dubai. The team that emerges victorious this weekend will be the team that gets to represent SA at the World Final later in the year.
The Girl Gamer Festival is a European organisation and this local tournament is licensed, planned and organised by Monarch eSports.
SowetanLIVE caught up with Warren Barkhuizen, CEO of ATK Sports, who are providing venue for the tournament and also have a team participating in the tournament, and spoke to him about what it means for women gamers in the country.
Why was there a need to have an all-women gaming festival?
“The intention for it is to create a safe space for women to participate in e-sport as women-only teams, they are mixed teams but men’s teams and men’s e-sport has been around and dominated by men for a long time. The intention is to give more opportunities, more coverage, on women in e-sports… it’s all about equal opportunities for the women.”
Which parts of the country are the gamers from?
“They’re from everywhere in the country, we have a sprinkling of people from Durban, Cape Town and Joburg, and I believe there’s some from Bloemfontein, East London... everywhere actually."
Will there be other teams participating at the World Final from the rest of the continent?
“This team qualifier was open to everyone in sub-Saharan Africa; the idea was to give those opportunities further up north but unfortunately there were no qualifiers, or nobody signed up from the rest of Africa or rather that part of Africa. The opportunity was there but they never took it.”
Why do you think there was not that much of an uptake from the rest of the continent?
“The establishment of teams has a lot to do with infrastructure, one of the things we try to resolve here in Cape Town with our venue is that there is a place to come at all times, at any times, to use high-end machinery, a gaming machine where you need to play games like this, you’re looking at R50,000 a PC.
"It’s not your run of the mill X-box. It’s a cost factor and has to do with the infrastructure, not only fibre and that type of thing but also the servers you play on… there’s been more opportunities for South Africans in general.”
What do you hope this weekend’s tournament does for women gamers on the continent?
“As e-sports itself grows in the region and worldwide obviously, if you look at e-sports internationally there are these tournaments all over the world, if you look at specifically the counter strike these are huge games and matured in other markets, SA is just playing catch-up.
"The way we play catch-up and ensure that there’s acceleration of the catch is by hosting these tournaments, there is a reason for the female players to invest their time and resources in e-sports. It’s sometimes considered a very fun endeavour but it is actually a viable source of income.
"We hope that this will help mature the market and increase participation. We hope to go deeper into southern Africa and have more teams from South Africa qualify for more international events.”
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