When you think of ‘gaming’, you may immediately imagine a guy sitting behind a computer screen with his headphones on! The thought of a woman in that space doesn’t come naturally to the mind-space. Sports are for boys, and dolls are for girls is a common perception that generations of people have grown up with. But not so much in the 21st century. Gamer Payal Dhare is someone who is breaking this bias and is working on her goal to make a name in the male-dominated gaming world.
In this exclusive chat with Health Shots, Payal Dhare opened up about catching up to make dominance in the gaming industry and the gender gap which is still far from healed.
The first step into the world of gaming
While the Covid-19 pandemic was a nightmare for the world, it was also a time when a lot of people found a way to unleash their creativity and passion. The lockdown fostered hidden talent in many people, including Payal Dhare. The 22-year-old found her calling the moment she logged into the virtual world of gaming.
In 2020, Dhare started her YouTube channel with little knowledge about gaming. Cut to two years later, the gamer has become one of the most successful stories with over 2.5 million subscribers and counting. Not only that, she has won many awards during the span of two years. She has won the Loco award, Hungama 50 Woman Game Changer of 2022, and Creators United Awards 2023.
“Gaming has always been a hobby that I love to spend time on. Once I became passionate about it and received positive responses on my gameplay videos, I decided to pursue it as a career. I was drawn to the opportunities it presented for me to express my creativity, gain financial stability and establish myself as a public figure in the gaming industry,” shares the gamer.
What does gaming mean to you?
If you are determined enough to start, you would be amazed at how you can make your dreams a reality. This couldn’t be more true for Dhare, who always had a strong passion for gaming, and becoming a professional gamer was a dream come true for her.
For those who don’t understand the meaning of gaming, Dhare says, “Gaming involves playing video games with virtual characters in either single-player or multiplayer mode, spanning a variety of genres and styles. It provides entertainment, social interaction, and even educational benefits, as players engage in challenges and problem-solving tasks.”
To Dhare, gaming is not limited to the computer screen, it can teach you about life as well. “Gaming provides an immersive and engaging learning experience that can teach players problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication and social interaction,” she avers.
Challenges have been a part of the journey for Payal Dhare
You might think that it’s easy to become a streamer and a gamer, but it takes more than what meets the eye. Crossing millions of subscribers as a YouTuber was not easy. Handling the trolls is not easy. She says, “Growing and surviving in the gaming community has been challenging, especially dealing with trolls and negative comments.”
Putting yourself out there also calls for some criticism in every possible way. Dhare’s trolls were not limited to making fun of her gaming skills, but they went far and beyond and got personal. “I have faced harassment, including negative comments about my gameplay, appearance, and makeup,” she adds.
Another challenge of being a female gamer is pursuing an “unconventional” career. But support from your loved ones can help you achieve the unattainable. “Initially, pursuing a career in gaming was seen as an unconventional path, but I was fortunate to have the support of my parents and gaming mentors who believed in my passion. Now that I have established myself in the industry, I no longer need to consider a backup plan.”
The gender gap is wide in the gaming industry
Women have made a mark in many fields and continue to do the same, but certain fields such as gaming are still associated with boys. Addressing the gender gap in the gaming industry, Dhare says, “The gender gap in the gaming industry is quite significant, with women being underrepresented in various roles, including esports, streaming, etc. Despite some progress in recent years, there is still a lack of gender diversity in the industry.”
Just like in any other field, women have been changing their perspectives and will do the same in the gaming industry. Dhare believes, “Women can offer unique perspectives, experiences, and skills that can enrich the development, design, marketing, and promotion of gaming content, as they have different preferences and playing styles.”
Your one message to aspiring women gamers?
It’s vital to take risks if you want to follow your dreams and create the life you always wanted. Dhare’s message to women who are trying to make a mark in the gaming industry is that “women who wish to pursue their dreams should take risks, follow their passions, and pursue their goals without fear.”
(Payal Dhare is nominated for the Health Shots She Slays Awards, presented by Ambience Group and Powered by Vedanta Group, in the Women in Gaming category. To vote for her or to review our other nominees, please click here!)