DePaul Teams Up With The*gameHERs


Courtesy of Russell Dorn

Russell Dorn of DePaul University

DePaul Esports made gaming news in May when they partnered with the women-led organization, The*gameHERs — the first-ever women’s esports collegiate division. 

The*gameHERS, founded in 2020, strives to represent and amplify the voices of women and femme-identifying gamers, as well as create safe spaces and opportunities for those who are interested in the gaming industry.

On May 19, the*gameHERS announced the launch of their women’s collegiate division, which aims to “provide a safe, inclusive online community for women, non-binary and femme-identifying students who game and/or have a desire to work in the gaming industry.” DePaul is one of many universities across the nation to participate in the new esports division. 

“DePaul Esports has four core values: leadership, entertainment, inclusion, and academics,” said Courtney James, DePaul’s director of student involvement. “We have been for years trying to strengthen opportunities for women and femme identifying people to gather within the esports community. We were looking to partner with an organization who would help us to amplify the voices and spaces for those people further. When the*gameHERS came along, it was great timing.”

To uphold these core values, DePaul Esports explores different ways to foster an inclusive environment for those interested in gaming. Prior to the pandemic, programs includinglike luncheons with HerCDM — an organization for women in DePaul’s College of Computing & Digital Media — and community bystander intervention training helped to create a safer, more inclusive space for gamers at DePaul. 

This interest in creating inclusive, safe spaces in the gaming community brought DePaul Esports and the*gameHERS together.

“I have to give DePaul credit: I think they exist as a leader in this space, at the forefront for trying to do a lot of the things that we’re doing,” said Rebecca Dixon, co-founder and CMO of the*gameHERs. “We were able to link up with DePaul early on in our exploration into the college esports world, specifically Courtney James, who really helped us define one element of our collegiate division which is the chapter program that DePaul is our pilot partner for.”

The founders of the*gameHERS, including Dixon, were inspired to create a company that helped to amplify and celebrate the voices of women in the gaming industry.

“Almost 50 percent of gamers worldwide are women, and we found that this percentage isn’t reflected anywhere in the industry,” Dixon added. “It’s not reflected in the number of developers, the number of protagonists, the number of women getting esports scholarships in college.” 

According to one Statista study, 71 percent of game developers in 2019 were men. 2020 marked the highest percentage of female protagonists in video games. According to Wired, only 18 percent of video game protagonists were women

“Overall, when individuals are aspiring to do things — whether it’s being involved in an activity, a sport or aspiring towards a specific career — they really look for opportunity based on individuals that are already doing that who look like them,” said Rebecca Longawa, a strategist for the*gameHERS. “What we see in the esports ecosystem and in the gaming ecosystem is that with so few women being represented, especially in senior leadership roles and on the industry side, it’s a bigger barrier for young girls to see themselves in those positions.”

To overcome these barriers, the*gameHERS features career spotlights highlighting women in the gaming industry, as well as professional bootcamps and webinars providing advice from industry  experts. Their newest program, the collegiate division, aims to bring these resources and connections to those in the college esports and gaming community.

DePaul will host weekly meetings with the*gameHERS every Thursday on the DePaul Esports Discord. More information on weekly meetings can be found on DeHub. Additionally, the*gameHERS provides a weekly newsletter with information on upcoming events.

“We chose to partner with the*gameHERS and their collegiate division because it could help us to grow and have access to resources even faster,” James said. “We just saw a great avenue that we could bring in professional experts and use the network that they were already creating to help women and femme-identifying students at DePaul gather even quicker.”