Girls Who Game

So I recently registered for a startup competition, Founder’s Frenzy, and through a bit of luck and a lot of cramming, I made it to the top 16, the social media stage. The idea I’m pitching is Girls Who Game, a welcoming community designed to be a safe haven for girls of all ages to play online games. Now, for a bit of context, here’s why I decided on this.

As a fierce competitor that was drawn to gaming, I’ve had so much fun playing games and working in esports — but as a female, or someone that identifies as a “girl gamer”, it’s been a rough journey. Most girls can probably relate to me when I say I’ve faced too many instances of alienation, harassment, and flat-out sexism. I’ve always tried to make it a point to turn the other cheek, but the comments definitely sting, and if I’m being honest, they’re really discouraging.

So I’ve come up with the idea to create an ecosystem that is targeted towards allowing girls to enjoy and improve at games in a safe space, away from discouraging comments and unnecessary harassment. Some of you might wonder, “Why can’t girls just play with guys in a coed environment?” and there’s quite a few parts to that answer. See, despite the fact that we’re not inhibited by physical ability like we are in athletics, there are social and cultural restrictions that are just as limiting, if not even more so.

You see, because when a boy is given a video game at the age of 5, and a girl is given barbies, she is at a disadvantage. When he is competing and sharing tips with his friends at the age of 12, and she is told to eat less and experiment with makeup, she is at a disadvantage. When he is encouraged to study computer science and game design at the age of 18, and she is pushed towards the humanities and arts, she is at a disadvantage.

Take all that and then pile on the outright discouraging comments and the more indirect, but no less hurtful snubs made towards girls that want to enjoy games and esports, and by the time they’re ready for college, it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll be able to compete with the guys. So whose fault is it? The parents? Society? Girls themselves? I’ve given it quite a bit of thought and I came up with a pretty simple answer. It doesn’t matter.

Forget blame, let’s find a solution. Girls don’t have the same mechanics as guys, because she just got exposed to games a month ago? Help her find a coach that can catch her up to speed. Guys harass girls that play games? Okay, let’s create all-female leagues that are supportive and nurturing until we’re at a point where we can move towards a coed option. Girls aren’t encouraged to improve, and instead, their friends make jokes about just getting “carried” by their more experienced male counterparts? Match them up with players of similar levels. Girls feel too intimidated to attend events that are 90% male? Create workshops that encourage gender equality and make sure girls feel welcomed, supported, and like they belong.

Easier said than done — and I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I can do all this. I actually don’t even know where to start. But I’m sure as hell am going to try.

So now I need your help. The social media stage of this competition ends Tuesday, 4/11 at 4:30pm. So it’d be really helpful if you could click over to https://www.uci.ideator.com/ and vote for my idea by liking it it and commenting on it. In order for the comment to count, please type out a complete sentence like “I think this is a great idea and I can’t wait to see where it goes!” You can find my idea at https://uci.ideator.com/ideas/5309/public.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, in the next stage of the competition, the top 8 will be pitching Wednesday, 4/12 at UCI Applied Innovation at 5141 California Ave, Irvine, CA at 8AM. Yes, I know it’s early, but the audience will be voting on their favorite pitch and who moves on to the top 4, so it would honestly mean the world to me if you could take a bit of time out of your morning to come and support me and my idea. I’ll also happily buy you coffee afterwards! Or an alcoholic drink of your choosing another time. (; Please, please, PLEASE come out!