Two women of color—Letta J and Keshia Walker—are carving out their niche in esports through Soho Gaming House and COEXIST Gaming.
Playing popular games like Fortnite and Madden NFL is no longer just a hobby. It can be big business. But issues in need of reform, such as online hate speech and the ability for more minorities to explore gaming careers, have surfaced. Even ESPN hosted a conversation about race and diversity in esports and gaming.
AfroTech reported that Letta J and Walker said online hate speech has become more popular as video game streaming has grown. Letta J, who runs Soho Gaming House in New York City, created a safe space for women in esports. COEXIST Gaming supports every gamer who is interested in opportunity and growth. The inclusive space was founded by Letta J and Daniel (Sem).
“In a male-dominated field such as ours, it’s important to create a solution, especially if the problem directly negatively affects you,” Letta J told AfroTech.
Walker, the founder of Women Got Game Summit, is a gaming champion who experienced different levels of racism and marginalization throughout her gaming career.
“You may be the only woman of color in the gaming room,” Walker told AfroTech, “but it’s not always going to be this way. You need to stand your ground—you need to be firm—and you need to make sure no one disrespects you. You have just as much of a right to be there as everyone else, male or female.”
Gaming money is up for grabs, too. CNN explained that in the fast-growing international phenomenon, millions of fans and billions of dollars are at stake. Walker is tapping into the career aspect of gaming. On Walker’s Black Collegiate Gaming Association (BCGA) website, the collegiate esports and gaming company says its ultimate goal is to create a pipeline for Black college students to gain corporate roles within the gaming and tech industries.
“She (Walker) created history by becoming the first African American woman to own a collegiate esports and gaming company in America,” the site claims.
The Shadow League explained that “African Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 make up 67%–74% of recreational gaming, yet they only make up about 3% in actual esports leagues.’
In addition to Women Got Game Summit, Walker’s Black College Con was Walker’s event which brought together Black college students, HBCUs, gamers, eSports fanatics and corporations.
“Students of color, for the first time, had the opportunity to see and network with successful leaders in the industry and participate in fun gaming competitions for scholarships and prizes. They also learned about a variety of career opportunities that can change the trajectories of their lives,” Walker told The Shadow League.