With 48 percent of the gaming community being female, it's hard to understand why we don't see more of them in video games, development or even in the realm of professional gaming. Women have fought long and hard for equality amidst such a male-centric interest and have experienced little progress in influencing an increase in female protagonists or in roles who have functions other than as a love interest. And while the fight for representation is currently on a downswing, that hasn't stopped the women who love the games enough to go professional from pushing themselves to the top and carving out their own niche.
Ricky Ortiz is a 33-year-old American professional gamer who ranks #154 in the US and #826 worldwide, with a specialization in the fighting genre. In titles like Street Fighter V and Capcom Vs. SNK 2, she ranks third in the world among her fellow women gamers, as well as claims bragging rights as one of the most experienced fighting game players on the planet. With second-most tournaments won among the top three, she's earned a little over $80,000 in her professional career. Of that, $60,000 was won during a single event, the 2016 Capcom Cup.
Katherine "Mystik" Gunn
29-year-old Katherine "Mystik" Gunn, or "Kat", began making a splash in 2007 when her team, Carolina Core, snagged a second-place victory at the Championship Gaming Series (CGS). But it was her participation as a contestant in the reality show "World Cyber Games Ultimate Gamer" in 2010 that rocketed her to fame, earning her a cool $100,000 in prize money and more fans than she could dream of.
She's left competitive gaming behind her after her huge victory but hasn't strayed far from the gamer community she loves. She currently has over 160,000 followers on Twitch, where she streams her game sessions and works her magic as an entertainer as well as a skilled gamer to provide quality content.
Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn
At only 23, the young Canadian gamer known as "Scarlett" has been hailed the "Queen of Starcraft II" and "Korean Kryptonite" by her adversaries and fans alike. With a breathtaking 99 tournament wins, it's no wonder even the best gamers fear to compete against her. She's earned over $177,000 through her skills as a gamer alone, with her largest single take being $24,000 upon winning the 2012 WCS: North America. She's the single highest earning female professional gamer in the world, making the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016, snagging the spot from Mystik only a year after she had been awarded the same title.
Controversy currently looms over her successes amidst the growing talk of trans-gendered expectations. While most of her competitions have been won in non-gender-restricted tournaments, her participation and wins in the women's league have been scrutinized. As of writing, eSports has made it clear they have no intention of enforcing gender checks for competition and Scarlett continues to mop up tourneys amongst the adversity.
While these are only three of the millions of women who have fallen in love with video games, they chose to fight the odds and become professional gamers in a world where they knew they would have a tougher climb to the top than the rest. Not only do they deserve our respect, but they also deserve to be properly represented in competition as well as in the game's creation.