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Gen.G, an esports organization with many teams, has an existing partnership with Bumble, which sponsored the first female team, the all-women Fortnite esports team. The search is part of a larger cause aimed at achieving gender equity and inclusion in gaming and esports. It follows the announcement from another esports organization, Cloud9, which announced on Sunday it had acquired an all-women Valorant team.
The Los Angeles-based Gen.G has the advantage of having a willing brand partner in Bumble. This women’s social networking app is encouraging the esports group to go in this direction, said chief operating officer Arnold Hur in an interview with GamesBeat. The goal of both companies is to champion a safer environment for women online in which all esports athletes can succeed and connect with one another, he said.
“We had a lot of experience putting together our Fortnite team,” Hur said. “We had great success. We decided this is one of the areas we wanted to develop next. It’s about finding the best talent and figuring out how to develop them better. We thought that it was a really exciting opportunity while the game is still young and the player base is still growing.”
The search for the new team will integrate Madison “Maddiesuun” Mann, who is a key player on the Team Bumble Fortnite team. She has been honing her skills for Valorant. Mann said in a statement that the industry is pushing toward an environment where women gamers are not treated as separate, but are given the full opportunity to scrimmage and develop their skills. She will be a mentor for the next team.
“This actually is an incredible opportunity, as we’re bound to see more and more teams enter the space,” Hur said. “We can improve the scene and make it bigger. So this is good news for everybody. As for Valorant, the publisher is very forward-thinking not just about the core of esports, which they know through League of Legends, but also their thinking about how we get better. This is about increasing the number of people in the scene around esports.”
Riot Games’ Valorant has been growing since June after a successful beta that drew more than 3 million players to this online shooter. Established in 2017, Gen.G has top esports teams in South Korea, the United States, and China. It is ranked No. 6 in the inaugural Forbes list of the “World’s Most Valuable Esports Companies.” Gen.G has won seven global championships to date.
Hur said it’s easier to expand into a new esport when it’s nascent.
“I’m not going to pretend this is all a selfless endeavor,” Hur said. “It makes a lot of logical sense. With women in gaming, this is an area that is growing really quickly. If we form a team that is up-and-coming, growing it and getting bigger will be much easier. We want to find pros, staff, coaches, and content creators that will support the mission, generate viewership, get the team exposure, and help the whole organization succeed. We’ve done this already in Fortnite.”
A 2019 market research firm Newzoo study found women make up 46% of the gaming industry, and ad agency Momentum Worldwide reported 29% of esports fans are women. Some women have complained about toxicity and the lack of representation in esports as reasons why they’re less interested in it.
“That’s definitely part of the context, and anybody who chooses to ignore it has no shot of improving or fixing it,” Hur said. “That was one of the big challenges we put to our organization. We put our Black Lives Matter patch on our League of Legends team, as posting something on social media in the name of diversity and inclusion isn’t enough.”
Gen.G also set aside $1 million for scholarships to help women and others over the next decade.
“We challenged ourselves as an organization to ask what does it really mean to make an impact, instead of just going for something like grabbing headlines or social media likes and follows,” Hur said.
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