Be Valiant Women's Panel #1: Championing Change From Industry Behemoths To First Time Streamers

On May 19th, an all women purpose event was opened called 'Be Valiant' to address a lot of the issues that women have in the gaming industry. Working alongside Microsoft, LA Valiant and Noah Whinston took initiative in the matter. Having the opportunity to attend the event itself, this article will summarize some of the key points discussed in the 'Championing change from industry behemoths to first time steamers' panel.

The panel is joined by Jessica Villarreal (Host, producer, show writer, prior experience in Machinima, and co-founder of VoyagerVR), Chelsea Middlebrook (Head of Social at Machinima), Nicole Blalock (Associate Esports Manager, Hearthstone at Blizzard), Michele Borrow (Host and actress), and Catarina Macedo (Program Manager at Xbox Live).

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¤ Championing change from industry behemoths to first time streamers

› How has the industry changed since you guys came in?

This panel focused on the industry rate of change. In essence, the information, the acceptance, and the career path in the gaming industry.

The panelists clarified that the process of extracting information in regards to games has completely changed. In reference to Jessica Villarreal, she had 8 blogs to reference her information when she first started her career in games. However if she wants to find out more about games today, there are hundreds and thousands of articles and websites.

Secondly, the panelists addressed the culture shock and acceptance of games. Being good at games is now a status. Streamers and content creators are now famous than the game creators themselves. A few years ago, many parents and others alike dismissed games. Games were not seen as an option for a career nor a status to be proud of. The gamer was seen as a person living in someone’s basement surviving off Doritos and Mountain Dew. Now, people like Ninja, famous Fortnite streamer, are playing with A list celebrities like Drake. The panelists agreed that times have changed, and geeks have become the new pop culture.

Nicole Blalock stated in the discussion, “I have never thought of games as a career path. Now, everything is different. It shows us how we are going to propel the industry.”.

The knowledge and convincing also came into factor when discussing acceptance. Catarina explained that people know what gaming or Esports is now. There is no need to explain. Although convincing the older generation about games is still very difficult, 150 million people in the U.S. identify themselves as gamers. That is half of the population. The panelists claim it is all up to perspective now. The once strict ‘what is games’ kind of parents are now more easily tuned to support their kids.

While the panelist agreed that there was a change to the industry since they had joined, Michele Morrow differentiated between the change in gaming and in Esports in regards to career. She explained that there is a marketing that hinders females in the industry. When being interviewed, a male interviewer was shocked to find Michele played World Of Warcraft in her spare time. Michele further clarified that because people decide on what you like based on gender, there are gatekeepers holding female game enthusiasts back. Michele agreed there was great change in the gaming industry for women but still a lack of improvement in the Esports side.

› Developing content and games with the female gaze in mind. There are a lot of male protagonists in games. Does this affect the process of development?

The discussion was started off with Nicole Blalock providing one of Blizzard Entertainment’s core values. “Every voice matters”.

Both Jessica and Catarina dove into their ideologies when coming to designing games. Jessica explained that her and her team only wants to find the best representation. In other words, finding the best avenue to convey emotion. Jessica concludes her point by saying VR is a pair of eyes and not an avatar.

Catarina clarified that she also put all of the audience in consideration when creating content. For every content Xbox has prepared, the content provides a little bit to every representation. Catarina claimed that having a diverse train of thought helps create better content.

Michele further addressed this matter in regards to her talk show, Good Game. She explained that she wanted to create content for gamers in Hollywood. For her and her partners, they wanted to represent as many people as possible. But according to her, there was only so much she could do because Hollywood was paying for it. Michele believed in creating a bridge for the mainstream and the gamers. In other words, a window in so they see the games differently.

In this discussion, the panelists went over considering a larger audience to reach when creating content. Instead of reaching for the same 18-34 males with females as only a plus, content creators, such as Michele, are actively bringing in a more diverse audience to promote the growth of diversity in games.


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