EE has launched its Power Up Programme, a transformative four-month talent development programme for six aspiring women looking to break into the video gaming and esports industry. Launched in partnership with EXCEL Esports, one of the UK’s leading esports organisations, the programme will train aspiring women using Riot Games’ hugely popular tactical shooting game, VALORANT, and will give them an insight into what it takes to become a professional esports player.
It comes as new research by EE reveals half (47%) of gamers in the UK think women aren’t taken as seriously as men in the gaming and esports industry, with 8 in 10 (85%) suggesting men are generally perceived as being better gamers and esports professionals. And while four fifths (83%) think women gamers and esports players are just as skilled as their male counterparts, nearly half (48%) admit that there is still a long way to go with the industry being viewed as male-dominated.
When asked about the challenges women face in the video gaming and esports industry, the research revealed that women cite harassment and verbal abuse (45%), a lack of opportunities (33%) and a lack of role models (33%) as some of those that most inhibit their development.
The top five challenges women face in gaming and esports are:
1. Harassment and verbal abuse
2. The culture within gaming and esports diminishes and undermines the skills and achievements of women
3. There is a lack of opportunities for women
4. There is a lack of role models for women
5. The culture within gaming and esports discourages women from taking part
Of the gamers surveyed, four fifths (79%) admit that they see no reason women shouldn’t play competitively against men in gaming and esports, with a third (36%) saying they are just as likely to take tips from women who game as men.
However, women admit that they are less likely to see a career for themselves in gaming and esports than men (18% vs. 32%), with three fifths (58%) suggesting this is because they don’t believe they have the skills required. A further fifth either don’t know how to get into the industry (21%) or didn’t realise there were opportunities to make it their job (20%).
Continuing their ambition to become the UK’s number one destination for gaming and make gaming more inclusive, EE plans to help women break into the gaming and esports industry with its Power Up Programme, giving six women who aspire to be professional gamers the opportunity to take part in specially curated training modules, as well as receive advice and guidance from Team EXCEL’s expert coaches and players. From nutrition and wellbeing sessions to skills workshops and financial guidance courses, the programme will educate and inspire the six selected women to discover opportunities in gaming and esports.
The programme is the latest step in EE and EXCEL’s commitment to nurture the next generation of women in gaming, with the chosen players even having the chance to try out for EXCEL’s VALORANT women’s team.
The six core training modules are:
Nutrition: Recognising the key role of nutrition in maintaining peak gaming performance, players will be educated by a renowned chef. Hosted in EXCEL headquarters’ smart kitchen, the session will teach participants about the best performance foods, with a food psychology expert working with them to create their very own nutrition plan
Career Opportunities: To gain further insights into the esports industry, players will visit the birthplace of VALORANT at the Riot Games Studios in Berlin, before having a masterclass in coding, character design and game development at EXCEL’s Berlin headquarters
Mental Wellbeing: A leading sports psychologist will be on hand to provide advice and guidance on stress management for the participants
Skill Enhancement Clinics: Players will attend workshops with Team EXCEL’s head coaches, providing the best advice for developing their VALORANT gameplay skills
Personal Growth: To assist players in growing their online presence and personal branding, inspiration sessions will be hosted by renowned streamers who will share insights on how to grow a Twitch fanbase and navigate online interactions Additionally, players will have access to bespoke financial guidance from HSBC
Enriching Experiences: Players will have the opportunity to attend gaming tournaments, offering firsthand exposure to the competitive atmosphere and power moves from the best in the field
All underpinned by guided mentorship: Each player will be paired with a dedicated mentor from EXCEL’s professional Valorant team, who will be on hand to support throughout the programme and offer invaluable advice
The EXCEL Valorant mentors will also take players through their top gaming gear recommendations at leading retailers, including the new EE Game Store – the go to destination for gaming – to ensure they are equipped with the best technology needed to compete.
Christian Thrane, MD for Marketing at EE comments: “The launch of our Power Up Programme is the latest step in our ambition to become the UK’s number one destination for gaming. We know that many women often don’t feel that there are opportunities for them in the gaming and esports industry. As part of EE and Excel’s shared commitment to make gaming as inclusive as possible and to help level the playing field for women in gaming, we have created our Power Up Programme, enabling six aspiring women to deepen their understanding of the video gaming landscape and expand their industry insights. We are looking forward to following the players on their journey”.
Mark Carter, Commercial Director at EXCEL Esports shares: “We are delighted to join forces with EE to launch the Power Up Programme, the first-ever VALORANT development programme for women in the UK. Our mission is to create a safer and more inclusive gaming community and so the launch of this programme is another step closer to achieving this. Our expert coaches and players are looking forward to sharing their knowledge and guidance, and helping the players to develop their skills in gaming and esports”.
To kickstart the programme, EE and EXCEL Esports will launch the application process with the UK’s first-ever-all-women’s esports tournament at UK gaming festival, Insomnia71, on Thursday 7th September in Birmingham. The VALORANT Women’s Cup will see the nation’s top emerging gaming talent going head-to-head for their stake of the £10,000 prize pool in a teams-based VALORANT tournament. Players who can’t make it to Insomnia71 can also apply online from today at ee.co.uk/power-up, with the programme closing for applications on Sunday 24th September at 6pm. Applications are only open to UK residents and only persons that identify as women and are aged 18 or over will be considered.