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Announcing: The FREEPLAY initiative for gender diversity in esports

I am launching a brand new initiative called FREEPLAY, aimed at diversifying gender representation among esports competitors. FREEPLAY will host virtual and in-person workshops and live-streams designed to introduce new players to popular esports titles, such as League of Legends, CS:GO, and Valorant, among others. You can read more about FREEPLAY's mission, and find our social media links, below.

Despite representing an increasing percentage of the global esports population (Nielson,

2019), women remain vastly underrepresented in the professional esports scene. However, non-participation is not always due to a lack of interest, as many suspect. Rather, many women and non-binary players express a desire to play competitive video games, but are hesitant due to anticipated toxic encounters in online multiplayer settings. Many feel so intimated by the steep learning curve of many esports’ titles that they are discouraged from learning these games, fearing heightened toxicity based on their gender and skill level (Orme, 2018).

FREEPLAY’s mission is to make the barrier to entry in esports less intimidating to marginalized genders in gaming culture by providing judgment-free spaces for new players to learn to play popular esports games from seasoned players. This includes Twitch “teaching” streams and in-person “learn-to-play” workshops offering guidance for different levels of familiarity – from beginner to more intermediate and advanced players who want to up their game. There are no stupid questions and no judgement about skill, and you can learn alongside others at your level.

Anyone is welcome to attend FREEPLAY events, regardless of gender, as long as you abide by our Code of Conduct. Attendees who violate these guidelines will be asked to leave, and may be banned from attending future events.

If you are a player or games industry professional who is interested in supporting FREEPLAY as a gameplay tutor, sponsor, or in some other capacity, please contact Steph Orme at


Orme, S. (2018). Growing up gamers. Female leisure in digital games culture. (Dissertation). Available at


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