Esports personality Cheryl Allison on being a female gamer in Singapore: "We aren't all rainbows and sparkles"
For the win
Lana Del Rey's forlorn ballad "Video Games" might have struck a chord with women around the world in 2011, but in less than a decade — in ironic twist of fate — female gamers are on the rise, particularly in Asia. A recent survey in India discovered that female mobile gamers significantly outnumbered their male counterparts. In China, female-oriented games are proving to be exceptionally popular. One such example is Shining Nikki, a stimulating dress-up game that racked up an estimated 44 million downloads within a month of its launch in August this year.
As more women are venturing into the gaming industry both as players and employees than ever before, reports of sexual abuse and harassment have steadily crept up to signal the industry's very own #MeToo reckoning globally. American comedian and host Hasan Minaj tackled the unsettling subject in a recent episode of his hit Netflix show Patriot Act.
In Singapore, numbers are far more conservative with females making up about 30 per cent of gamers according to stats revealed in 2017. Yet, it was Singaporean gamer Cheryl Allison's tweet, which hilariously juxtaposed the expectation and reality of female gamers, that went viral in July this year. Here, she demystifies her journey as a female gamer and breaks down her gaming essentials.
How people think gamer girls game vs how we actually game. pic.twitter.com/S542IcZIpQ— Cheryl Allison Lim (@cherzinga) July 31, 2019
What's the first game you ever played?
The first game I played was probably Neopets and Club Penguin. Don't laugh at me; I was amazing at sled-racing! If you're referring to an Esport game, then it's Sudden Attack, which was a popular first-person shooter (FPS) game in the late 2000s. I picked it up, so I could spend time with my younger brother because that game was extremely popular among boys back then!
How did you transition from being a regular gamer at home to something a little more serious?
I started streaming my Dota games on Bigo and I was actually surprised that people came in to watch. I moved over to streaming on Twitch where I got more recognition as a gamer. I actually have Hades to thank for bringing me into the Esports scene! He's a Dota 2 caster who I met in-game and he brought me to a lot of Esports events. He helped me to realise my potential in Esports since there weren't a lot of gaming influencers around. He also helped me land my next two full-time jobs as a Digital Content Manager for Esports companies.
Today, all over the world, women have become more active gamers than men. What makes gaming so appealing to women?
I didnt know that! It could be attributed to the massive rise in mobile gaming. The barrier for entry for PC and console games can still be pretty high for new gamers because a lot of grinding is required to master a game. Mobile games such as Mobile Legends and PUBG Mobile are really easy to pick up and can be learnt in just a day, making it really easy for women to pick up and be introduced to the gaming world.
Do you find that women approach gaming differently from men?
I wouldn't say that women approach gaming differently from men. Just like males, there are different types of women who game — casual and serious gamers. There are a lot more casual female gamers than serious ones. For instance, girls who pick up gaming just to spend time with their boyfriends and hence, the stereotype that girl gamers aren't real gamers.
One of your tweets about being a female gamer went viral last month. What are some of the misconceptions of being a female gamer that you would like to dispel?
Thanks to Twitch streamers, many people think that female gamers are all rainbows and sparkles when in fact we're no different from male gamers! We huddle up in sweatpants and hoodies, snack and eat meals at our computers. You can drop by the replies to the tweet to see how many female gamers agree with me.
We often hear of workplace harassment, abuse, or prejudice against women in the esports industry. Have you experienced, witnessed, or heard of such instances?
Thankfully not, and I hope that it never happens in the future since there are more and more respectable female Esports figures emerging. People respect female gamers a lot more now! Right now, I'm working at Female Esports League (FSL) where we host female-only tournaments and our boss is female.
Cranium Apparel created a dress especially for female gamers that received plenty of flack. What's the ideal gaming outfit for you?
To be honest, I thought that the dress was super cute. I would wear it to events for fun. If I were competing, comfort would still be my priority. My ideal gaming outfit would be joggers, and ironically, a T-shirt similar to those on the men's section on Cranium Apparel.
Do you think female representation within video games is getting better?
If you're referring to FPS games, I feel that female characters will never be the majority. Video games are meant to be as close to a real life as possible. In a war-zone, you don't see as many females as males. There have been many bad-ass female characters over the years such as Ada Wong and Lara Croft. Baby steps!
What mobile games are you playing at the moment?
I don't play any mobile games regularly, but I do play Mobile Legends.
What are your gaming essentials?
If you're interested in my full set-up, it includes a Secret Lab gaming chair, a secondary monitor, RBG lighting on everything, Dreamcore Odyssy PC in black, Supersolid R270i 144Hz monitor, HyperX headphones, HyperX mechanical keyboard, Armegeddeon Alcatroz mouse, and MSI keyboard mousepad.
What advice do you have for other aspiring female gamers?
Don't let anyone tell you that female gamers aren't real gamers! The best feeling in the world is when you prove people wrong.
Buro 24/7 Selection