Unbeknownst to most, the e-sports industry has been around for a long time, even before the establishment of current industry leaders like Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment. Like fine wine, e-sports has aged quite beautifully from its humble beginnings in the early 1960s. It started with the game Spacewar!, an outer space-themed video game developed as experts started tinkering with computing systems. Initially, such games were created to test the limits of computers at the time. The thrill and entertainment gleaned from such activities were pretty much nonexistent until Stanford students started a competition called the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics.
Another space game developed by Atari became the first large scale video game competition. The international games for the Space Invaders Championship were a hit in the United States and abroad, which established competitive gaming as a strong mainstream industry. Later on, Nintendo, Sega, and other console games became a popular hobby for teens, young adults, and even middle-aged men. And once PC gaming was developed, the likes of Counter Strike and Warcraft soon dominated in sales and still do today.
But the industry’s development is far from over. The world of e-sports was once again revolutionized after the invention and continued development of the internet and various hardware. Augmented reality games are now being stored in homes of middle-income families, proving that it has reached the hearts and minds of casual and die hard gamers alike.
However, this begs the question: where do women figure in the industry? It’s important to recognize that the e-sports sector is obviously a man’s world. Historically, men even dominated traditional sporting activities due to biological differences. But for some reason, this fact transcends into electronic gaming, even if physiological strength isn’t the biggest consideration for such games. Statistics show that gamers are still predominantly men despite the relative improvements of gender equality in recent years. But regardless of the audience share, a handful of women have still dominated the e-sports industry in their respective ways, including Elle Ullmann. Ullmann is considered to be one of the earliest female investors in e-sports. Instead of trying to be a gamer, she played the game by staying on the business side of things to revolutionize the gaming industry from the inside.
How did she do it? Well, Ullmann simply invested in Team XSET, an up-and-coming team of gamers who are not just interested in snagging e-sports championships, but also represent a small part of the industry that focuses on cultural diversity, equality, and creative expression. Early on, as a seasoned entrepreneur whose expertise is in the entertainment sector, Ullmann recognized that gamers, at their very cores, are also influencers. Gamers attract the attention of hundreds of fans all over the world. This gives them the opportunity to prove their mettle in their respective games and push forward the advocacies that are important to them. That’s why investing in ex-FaZe executive Greg Selkoe’s Team XSET was a no-brainer for the go-getter woman, whose set of players include Alexander Vanderveen, Tyler McDougal, Jordan Cannon, and streamers like Ashley Morales and Minna Stress, to name a few.
Through her connections with MELT Music and Media Agency and other partnerships, the industry pioneer has also integrated her various ventures that allow gamers to shine and give them more than enough chances to succeed. Ullmann’s forward-thinking ways have changed how e-sports can be marketed in the future. She has enabled young entrepreneurs who know what they want to do and how they want to do it in the age of commerce, media, and gaming. This also made her a very successful businesswoman, who managed to close constant sponsorships and licensing deals for her team while continuously investing in different e-sports platforms.
This just goes to show how important women are in e-sports. They are an integral part of the industry whose voices should also be heard. Without Ullmann and her contemporaries, e-sports will remain a big event of digital gaming and nothing else. But thanks to these innovations, the gaming industry has transformed into a booming sector that gives jobs, nurtures talents, and brings the world closer together, even if just for a short while.