Dubai: The world finals of the Girl Gamer Esports Festival will be held in Dubai at Meydan One from December 12-14, it was announced on Tuesday.
The event, to be held in Dubai for the next two years at least, is the culmination of a global year-long six-stage series, with the view to increase stages to nine events next year.
Nine teams comprising of five players each totaling 45 participants, who are the best from the series, will compete at the finals. Of those nine teams one will be local, in order to help promote local female gamers.
Girl Gamer is the largest all-female gaming competition in the world and live streams of the event attract 20 million viewers globally.
Prize money has yet to be announced but officials say it is very likely to be largest prize fund ever for a women’s gaming tournament. Games played at the event will be League of Legends and CounterStrike Go.
Paul Roy, CEO of the event’s local partners, Galaxy Racers Esports, told Gulf News: “Female gamers account for a third of some two billion gamers globally, and 40 per cent of all Esports viewership is female, but in terms of professional representation they make up less than 0.1 per cent.”
Fernando Pereira, President of the event’s organisers Grow Up Esports, added: “We wanted to create a safe environment for women to showcase their competitiveness. Even though other finals don’t discriminate they have close to no female participation. We believe this event is a step towards greater inclusivity.
“Dubai is a great match for this event especially when it comes to promoting female empowerment. There is important work being done to promote gender balance here, we’ve recently seen that in the Federal National Council (FNC) elections where female participation has been raised to 50 per cent, and this needs to be shown to the world.
“On top of that it makes sense for the world’s fastest growing industry to partner with the fastest growing city on earth.”
Roy agreed, “Esports is growing about 34 per cent a year, viewership is more than the NFL and Esports teams are selling for about US$40 million, which would buy you a second tier football team in England. The industry is only five years old but it’s already bigger than the sports industry, last year the sports industry made US$93 billion, gaming made US$140 billion and the film industry made US$30-40 billion.
“There’s massive potential to expand in this region and the job creation could be huge,” he added. “This is just the beginning in terms of bringing high level events here.”
Last year, gaming revenues in the UAE were estimated to have reached Dh1.2 billion.
One of the setbacks for the gaming industry here are the laws regarding voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or in common terms using phone services over the internet, which is one of the key elements of modern gaming. While this won’t affect the tournament, which is offline, it does deter community gaming at grassroots in the UAE.
As part of their partnership with government entities to bring the event here, organisers are now hoping to discuss ways around the issue.
Maitha Shuaib, Director of Corporate Communications, at Dubai Women’s Establishment (DWE), who are supporting the event, said: “An event like Girl Gamer will help to raise the visibility of the women in esports — and tell their stories and highlight their accomplishments both in the region and across the world.”