Intel, pushing its diversity efforts further, launched a new AnyKey diversity initiative in partnership with ESL. The initiative comes ahead of the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) finals in Katowice, Poland to arouse interest of underrepresented members of competitive communities such as women, LGBTQ participants, and people of color.

Intel Partners With ESL To Encourage More Women In eSports

Intel pushing for diversity in eSports

Jesse Sell, senior manager of pro gaming, business and strategy, says the initiatives from AnyKey are already being practiced at Extreme Masters Katowice.

“We’re looking to broach a subject that most shy away from. It’s a daunting road that lies ahead, but we have a fantastic team on board and we’re confident we can make a difference.”

AnyKey includes two teams. The research team, which is headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor T.L. Taylor, gathers and sets up discussion opportunities such as the “Women in Esports” panel and industry workshop at events such as the Intel Extreme Masters San Jose. These findings are then taken up by the development team, which is headed by Morgan Romine, co-founder of Ubisoft’s female gaming organization, Frag Dolls. The team then makes strategies to find practical solutions to deal with the identified problem zones.

AnyKey supports the Intel Challenge Katowice, which is a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament for women. Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, which was enjoyed by over 100,000 live audiences last year, hosts this tournament.

Huge following for professional video gaming

As per Newzoo estimates, 131 million eSports fans follow games and events regularly, and another 125 million occasional viewers watch big international events. Around 69% and 66% of enthusiasts and occasional viewers are male, estimates Newzoo. The U.S. audience of eSports gender distribution is 27% women versus 73% men, says Stephanie Llamas, director of research and consumer insights at SuperData Research.

“In video games in general, women have been able to play and feel comfortable playing games by seeing other women playing and accepted into the community,” Llamas says.

AnyKey is a good platform for eSports to allow women join the community, and do away with the feeling of “outsiders.” In Poland, an AnyKey lounge will also be showcased. The lounge will be a welcoming space for conversation, information exchange, and networking, says Sell. For the first time, the AnyKey Code of Conduct will be presented in the lounge. The code represents an inclusion policy for eSports events and online broadcasts to officially address harassment issues.