PlayVS Game Changers Will Empower Women in Esports
Men have dominated esports and the gaming community for years. Women have finally started to break into the scene and have established themselves in every sector of the industry. But there are still obstacles and challenges in their way.
Thankfully, several organizations have created programs to provide a safe space for women in esports and provide guidance and mentorship to succeed. PlayVS recently created the Game Changers program to help open doors into gaming and esports, starting at the high school level.
PlayVS is one of the leading platforms for competitive scholastic esports experiences. High schools and colleges can use the platform to build or expand their esports program. PlayVS takes care of the scheduling, stats, and logistics while coaches can develop their students.
PlayVS also partners with significant publishers like Riot Games, Epic Games, and Psyonix. Teams can compete in eight separate titles, including League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Fortnite.
The Game Changers initiative will focus on a different aspect of diversity and inclusivity each year. The first year will focus on women in gaming and introducing high school and college students to the various career options they have in esports.
Hotspawn recently spoke with Alinn Louv, the Director of Brand and Community, about the Game Changers initiative and how it will help women enter the esports or gaming industry.
Hotspawn: How did you get involved with PlayVS, and what are the responsibilities of your position?
Louv: I actually got involved with PlayVS almost three years ago. I joined the company in July of 2018. I actually found out about it because I was at another start-up in the same building as PlayVS. I got to hear the CEO and founder Delane Parnell speak about the mission and vision of where he sees the company’s role in esports. I just knew that I had to get involved.
I come from a marketing background; I was at an influencer-driven curated subscription box service previously. The CEO didn’t have anyone in marketing yet. Back then, he was originally thinking about this being a subscription-based model. We’ve pivoted a lot since then in the past three years.
But now, I am currently the Director of Brand and Community. I lead our community engagement initiatives; I’ve launched a few different programs in addition to Game Changers, including our PlayVS Academy, volunteer coach program, and our super coach program. A lot of the work we do focuses on building out our coach community, especially at the high school level. I also lead our brand initiatives. So, our creative team, any partnerships, just making sure that we’re driving brand awareness through all of our partnerships and getting the PlayVS name out there. A lot of what we do is community-driven, so making sure we highlight our players and coaches. And that’s what we’re really most excited about in PlayVS.
Hotspawn: How did it get to the point of focusing on women in esports for the Game Changers initiative?
Louv: Before I was the director of brand and community, I was just leading our community team. We were really looking at different ways to engage our community, and we’ve always believed in esports being inclusive and really accessible. But we didn’t see as much participation from all-girl highschools or all-women colleges. So that’s kind of really where the idea for Game Changers came from. How do we lower the barrier and make it more exciting for these women to join our platform? So we thought about what is really exciting for high school students and high school admin.
We realized it’s just explaining the different career opportunities within esports and also shining a light on all of the women that are currently involved in the esports industry. We wanted to create the program not only to provide mentorship to our high school players but also to just share the vast amount of career opportunities within esports. You don’t have to become just a professional player; there are all of these opportunities within the esports industry. That’s really what we drive to showcase with all of our different Game Changer ambassadors and all of the programs we put on.
Hotspawn: What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles or problems women face in esports or gaming in general?
Louv: I think there are a few different obstacles. One is just making sure we have a platform. Esports is definitely something that is typically male-dominated. But now we are seeing a lot of women not only join the industry but in impactful roles. For example, Nicole at Evil Geniuses, and just seeing that really helps others want to join the industry. But I think obstacles like feeling empowered and safe to join is something a lot of women think about joining any game. When someone realizes or sees you’re a woman in the chat, it doesn’t feel like you’re welcome there.
Hotspawn: What incentives are you offering to attract women to esports at the high school and collegiate level?
Louv: We have a few different incentives we’re offering. With the Game Changers program, we are offering all-girl schools a special discount. It only costs $500 to join our platform. We don’t want cost to be a barrier to start a program or even expand a program. Additionally, we offer monthly programming for all of the players that focus on topics like building a safe and exclusive esports program or how to develop your skills in high school and make sure that they’re transferable to college, or even if you’re in college, what a career in esports could look like.
We offer those each month as a short panel and Q and A because we want our players to have a safe space to engage with these mentors in the industry and ask any questions they might have about how to get started, any challenges that they faced in their career and about any advice they could give to someone who is just starting out in college or high school.
Hotspawn: How has the reception been to these monthly programs been so far?
Louv: It has been really great. We’ve seen a lot of positive feedback from our community, whether it’s from the female players themselves or allies just learning more about how to welcome more women into their program and to make it more inclusive and accessible to them. We’ve heard that a lot of players really appreciate having that time to hear someone speak from the industry, and just being able to sit in and ask the questions they have has been really beneficial to them in growing their program and growing career as well.
Hotspawn: For someone interested in joining these programs as a speaker, what would they need to do?
Louv: They can reach out to us at Gamechangers@PlayVS.com, and we’ll be able to talk through what it means to be part of the program and how they can get involved.
Hotspawn: What are your thoughts about the VALORANT Game Changers program introduced to the VALORANT Champions Tour?
Louv: It’s a whole separate entity; it’s funny you mention that; I think they just launched it yesterday. We’re super excited about it. We think the more publishers that use their platform to shine a spotlight on women, the better. I think it’s just exciting to see them champion a similar initiative for VALORANT.
Hotspawn: What do you have on the horizon after this first year?
Louv: We are excited to expand beyond women to include gamers of color and working with different groups like that. We’re also working with the Special Olympics right now to create a unified esports league. There are definitely a few different initiatives we have coming up next.
Hotspawn: In your own words, why is it important to create this safe space and guide women in esports?
Louv: I think it’s incredibly important to create safe spaces for women so that they feel empowered to pursue whatever career opportunity or experience that they’re interested in. I think it just gives them that opportunity in order to share their experience, use their voice, and be heard. I think it’s just as important to give women a place to speak up, and it’s also important to listen to them and what they have to say. That’s where real change is going to occur. I’m really excited about Game Changers because we are focusing on this new generation of gamers and starting there so that they can at this age what it means to have good sportsmanship, online etiquette when it comes to chat and competing, and just being a great teammate.