WOMEN INCLUSION IN A MALE DOMINATED GAMING INDUSTRY IN NIGERIA
The Gaming industry in Nigeria is one that is growing exponentially and is continuously developing, the industry has undergone a massive growth surge over the past few years, that the industry is estimated to be worth N250 billion in revenues. Research in 2018 disclosed that Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have a combined sports betting market worth $40 billion.
However, with all the growth and opportunities witnessed in the industry generally, we are yet to reach that point where we will confidently say the industry is an all “inclusive” one.
The gaming community though fast becoming the new goldmine, is somehow seen as the bedpost of male dominance, with women still grossly underrepresented.
Impact of Women
For some reason the impact of women’s contribution, is yet to be seen and felt in this lucrative Industry, whether by choice or by design.
The space is still dominated by men and the participation of women are still seriously lacking. It seems like the odds are against the women to reach a certain echelon in the industry. It is often said that an industry will fail to reach its potential, if ideas are not pooled from every angle especially the ones that come from the female perspective.
The gender divide, still very much evident in the gaming industry in Nigeria should be bridged so that the opportunities that abound in the industry can be well utilized.
It cannot be over emphasized that to bring about a great and innovative change to the gaming landscape in Nigeria, more female inclusion is absolutely needed, and to borrow the words of Mariam Adil; team lead at Social Game Make GRID “when gaming becomes more inclusive, the industry can do so much more to advance social progress.
I know it’s easy to be discouraged in the gaming community as a woman, giving the nature and perception of the business, but women have survived and thrived in harsher and tougher spaces that was once thought to be the domain of men exclusively, so the environment, structure, inhibitions and rules in this very Industry shouldn’t stop the women folk from participating fully and effectively.
In a country of over 200 million people; over 25 national licensed operators, numerous licensed sports betting outfits, licensed casinos and other forms of licensed gaming businesses in the country, not one can be said to be owned and operated, by a woman.
There is truly a long way to go, in making the industry an inclusive space.
So many of us love gaming and want to find a way to talk about it and be part of it. Sometimes it just feels like we have to put it away and turn the other way because of the way lottery and all things related are still perceived, especially where women are concerned.
However, now that all eyes (government and the public and even international community) are on the Nigerian lottery/gaming space and the industry has become a major source of wealth generator and distributor, it is time to change the narrative.
African Women in the Game
Let us take a cue from other African countries especially South Africa, where women are breaking the bar code and creating their own space in the gaming Industry. There is Charmaine Mabuza; CEO of ITHUBA holdings, who is the first black female CEO to own and run a national lottery operation in Africa and was named among world’s top women gaming executives; She introduced the laudable Random Number Generator draw system (RNG) which has a high level of system security as well as internal and independent audit system to ensure integrity of the draw.
Janietzche Megun, Founder & President, Legends Gaming Solutions, she runs the first 100% female owned & operated women in gaming company in South Africa. Sam Wright, Founder Tech Girl, is a prominent and visible voice in South Africa’s gaming scene. She is a blogger, gaming content creator across various channels, e-sports shoutcaster, hosting numerous e-sports competitions in South Africa and internationally.
There is Ashely Groves; she created and developed the female CS: GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) team called Amaryllis under the White Rabbit Gaming Umbrella; she is also an ambassador for major brands like Acer Africa and Predator Gaming to mention but a few.
Role of Women
During the pandemic lockdown, I had the opportunity to really look and examine the industry more objectively, especially in regard to the role of women in shaping it, through the areas of operation, marketing, creating contents and even at the regulatory level, and it became apparent that there is need for diversity and gender parity not only in the lottery business, but in the wider gaming Industry.
There should be opportunities and training for women in high level executive roles within the industry, in order for them to rise to leadership positions. On the commercial side, there should be more inclusion in organizations with more women on the board and more women CEOs.
I still can’t tell whether the under representation of women in the industry is out of bias, or that women are simply not interested or that they feel stifled and simply can’t fit in or that they just lack the opportunities to make their mark.
Maybe it will be that they are simply and deliberately being excluded.
Whatever the case might be, let the women, no matter the age or background, take up the mantle, carve out a career and take up space in the Nigerian male-dominated gaming scene, whether it’s in the area of gaming operation, regulation, content creation, legal, entertainment and media, sustainability, charity etc. and in the process, help create inspiring change in the 21st century.
I believe more will be achieved in and for the industry when more females are put in positions of power and these women when they emerge, should strive to become mentors to other women aspiring to carve a niche in the industry.