SimBin, creators of critically acclaimed race games, today announced Women and Wheels – the firstwomen-only Esports car racing competition – at the annual European Women in Games Conference inLondon. Launching this autumn, the competition aims to provide a supportive, female-friendlyenvironment that encourages more women to play Esports while drawing attention to the often hiddenrole of women in racing and automotive history. A percentage of revenue will be donated to female-focused charities.
SimBin Studio Head, Allan Speed, said: “We’re thrilled to announce Women and Wheels. As adeveloper, we’re acutely aware of the low female participation in Esports. Around 7% of our racecompetitors are female. Unbelievably, that’s probably over average. We want to see more womenenjoying the thrills and spills of the virtual track, and Esports in general. At SimBin we’ve achieved50/50 gender balance in our studio workforce, so we thought we’d try to encourage more women tocompete in our competitions too. We spoke to Marie-Claire Isaaman (CEO, Women in Games) and Dr.Jo Twist (CEO, Ukie), who both thought it was a great idea. Then we got positive feedback from somewell-known car manufacturers and a host of great sponsors and advocates got on board. Everyonecould see that Women and Wheels is all about doing good while feeling good. It’s got high-octane racing fun, it’s building a supportive environment for women to develop their racing skills andconfidence, and it’s donating to charity too. It’s a real game changer.”
Esports is one of the fastest growing areas of entertainment, predicted to be worth over $1.5 Billion by2020. It’s a sport where women can compete on an equal playing field with men but currently Esportshas numerous gender equality and participation challenges. Approximately 50% of video game playersare now female but that number drops dramatically to 15% for Esports viewers and only 5% for Esportsplayers. Professional Esports has major earnings gaps between men and women, plus misogyny andonline bullying are considerable problems.
While none of these issues is unique to Esports, many women players, along with some men, are trying tocombat inequality and discrimination by promoting either gender balanced or women-only teams, leaguesand competitions. Women-only tournaments such as the Intel Challenge Katowice give women a chance todemonstrate Esports prowess on a major stage – but at grassroots level women-only teams and leaguescan provide a supportive environment where women can improve skills and confidence without fear of abuse. For many female players, the hope is these initiatives will eventually lead to equal participation andcompetition with men.
“Women and Wheels is a fantastic initiative”, said Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO of advocacy group Women inGames. “It’s a shame we need women-only teams, leagues and competitions in Esports but until the sectorfully matures, becomes more gender balanced and takes steps to eradicate online bullying and misogyny,they represent a great way to get more women involved by building communities, confidence and skills.It’s not true that women aren’t competitive, or that they don’t like cars. The CEO of General Motors is currently a women, and the founder of Autoweek, Denise McCluggage, used to race Ferraris! Esports hasgreat potential to level the playing field for women in competitive sport, and I think Women in Wheels isprogressive step towards achieving that.”
Mathias Lauda, Racing Driver for Aston Martin in the FIA World Endurance Championship, added: “I amdelighted to be an advocate for Women and Wheels, it’s a fantastic and much needed innovation. As aprofessional racing driver, I’m all for getting more women into both Esports and motorsports. The Womanand Wheels competition is a great way of encouraging females into a traditionally male dominated space”.