Gaming is traditionally seen as a male-dominated pastime, and yet in recent years there have been major efforts made to equal the balance and account for the growing number of women who enjoy playing casually.
The professional gaming scene is also host to more females than ever before, which is helping to further dispel the myths about gaming being just for boys and men. To illustrate this, here is a quick overview of the biggest female gaming personalities who are more than capable of keeping up with and outdoing the guys.
Becoming a big name in the poker scene is tricky enough for men, so to achieve this as a woman is all the more impressive. That is exactly what Canadian player Kristen Bicknell has done over the course of her career, ever since she got her foot in the door playing poker online all the way back in 2006.
Since then she has gone from strength to strength, playing literally millions of hands of poker a year via her preferred casino sites and becoming one of only a handful of famous female gamblers who got rich by fending off male and female competitors alike.
To date she has won more than $5.1 million at major tournaments, and at just 34 years old she still has a lot of playing ahead of her.
Stepping away from the world of digital gambling, it is currently inevitable that the total earnings of female players will be a lot lower than some of their male counterparts, although hopefully this is a state of affairs that will not persist for too long.
At the moment, with total tournament takings of just under $400,000, that accolade goes to Sasha Hostyn, better known by her pseudonym ‘Scarlett’. Her game of choice is Starcraft 2, Blizzard’s ever-popular strategy title, and she has made history by being the first female to take the top spot at one of the major events hosted.
Hearthstone is another Blizzard game which has a big competitive scene surrounding it, as well as a similarly small pool of female players in the upper echelons. This all changed in 2019 when the first female Grandmaster was crowned, with Li Xiaomeng taking $200,000 for her victory over a male-dominated field.
Xiaomeng also took the opportunity afforded to her by this landmark win to send out a message to younger female players who might one day want to go pro, saying that self-belief is crucial and that gender should not be an obstacle to e-sports success.
Most people know her as Hafu, and in terms of popularity she is definitely up there with the big hitters on Twitch, regularly streaming to audiences of thousands as she plays various games, chief amongst which is Teamfight Tactics.
Wang used to also be a guiding light in the world of Hearthstone, although since she was more of a specialist in the Arena game mode rather than the Standard mode which is more commonly used by Blizzard for competitive tournaments, she never got the opportunity to shine in this context, and eventually moved on from the game altogether.
Her competitive earnings of around $85,000 are not all that steep, but like most streamers she makes more money from subscriptions, donations, and endorsements, so the true figure is much, much higher.
One of the most enduring names in female pro gaming, Kat Gunn got off to an explosive start when her career got underway in 2006, first as a skilled player of beat-em-up Dead or Alive 4, and then in a number of first person shooters, with the screen name Mystik soon becoming synonymous with Halo and CS:GO, amongst others.
Playing competitively, she would end up taking home over $160,000 from tournaments, but in recent years she has also stepped back from high-pressure events and instead embraced a more laid-back career in streaming, as well as dabbling in cosplay.
One of the fastest rising stars of the esports and streaming universe, Rose has proven herself a seriously skilled player across a range of disciplines, taking home tournament winnings in Fortnite and League of Legends.
This kind of diversity of ability is surprisingly common in gaming more broadly and speaks to the variety of experiences that are available and the transferability of the skills involved.
Such inspirational women as these will surely help female gamers to feel more confident and comfortable playing competitively, as well as just for fun.