A new gaming organization that provides an inclusive and safe environment for players to meet fellow gamers will launch after spring break. However, this one’s just for the girls.
Sarah Schneider, communication studies senior and co-founder of Women in Gaming, said many women in gaming get harassed while playing. To fight these issues, Schneider said they are creating a community of women inclusive to the nonbinary and LGBTQ community where students feel at home.
“I hope that gaming can be a place where everyone feels comfortable and they can come, play a game and be respected and not have that hate speech,” Schneider said. “One of the reasons we find girls don’t like talking in (a gaming) chat is because they get harassed for being a girl and a gamer.”
Schneider said women gamers make up about 48 percent of the gamer population, and their goal with the club is to help these girls find a community of people like themselves.
“Honestly, it should be equal for everyone,” Schneider said. “I just think it’s really important to establish this space so people can feel more included … I think once they feel safe to play, they’ll think, ‘Screw the haters, let’s just play a game.’”
The group’s first meeting will be March 26 in the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. Erin Reilly, Moody College director of innovation and entrepreneurship, is the adviser for the group and has been in the gaming industry since the ‘90s. She said she has been around since the original female gamers helped found the industry, so she knows how important female power is.
“To me, I feel like you need diversity and inclusion,” Reilly said. “We’re not just girls. The more voices and different perspectives we have in any industry, the better the experience is and development in creativity, especially in games.”
Reilly said this is a great organization for women to come together to enjoy a shared love for gaming and find a comfortable space away from male harassment.
“We’re stronger together,” Reilly said. “Find your tribe, find your community and learn from each other. Get comfortable with your space, and then, let’s be vocal.”
Anthropology senior Dreanna Hill has been gaming since she was young and is looking forward to joining a group where she doesn’t have to prove herself because of her gender.
“It’s harder for women to show interest in stuff that men dominate,” Hill said. “It’s important for everyone to feel they can do what they’re interested in. I think it’s really refreshing to immediately be on the same page as everyone else.”
The group wants to become an affiliate of Longhorn Gaming, a male-dominated video gaming organization on campus, and Schneider said she is excited to watch the organization grow.
“Eventually, we’re going to build a community with the guys, and it’s going to be a happy, happy community,” Schneider said. “I think gaming should be inclusive to everyone, because gaming means something different to everyone. Any person, regardless of who they are, can play a video game.”