Game like a girl

Updated: Mar 22, 2020, 16:48 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

A Khar-based gaming start-up has launched GEms, India's first all-female Esports and lifestyle team that has aced the art of slaying male counterparts all day, every day.

Gamer Apollonia Hannah Hinds with Mohit Israney and Dr Rushindra Sinha, founders of Global Esport, the start-up that launched the country's first all-women esports and lifestyle team. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar
Gamer Apollonia Hannah Hinds with Mohit Israney and Dr Rushindra Sinha, founders of Global Esport, the start-up that launched the country's first all-women esports and lifestyle team. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

A Khar-based gaming start-up has launched India's first all-female Esports and lifestyle team. The Khar office of Global Esport, a gaming start-up run by Mohit Israney and Dr. Rushindra Sinha, is a picture of testosterone as men work furiously behind monitors. The skewed gender ratio is hardly a problem for Apollonia Hannah Hinds. "All my life, I have slayed men," she laughs. With her beachy curls and booming voice, Hinds, 25, is unmissable. Born in England, raised in Singapore, she is the captain of GEms (Global Esports' Mythic Stones), the country's first all-women esports team, launched by Sinha and Israney to challenge the gender divide.

Esports refers to a competition that uses video games and is held as an organised, multiplayer video game competition, either between professional players, individually or as teams.

Hinds was working as a caricaturist and gamer in Singapore when the team reached out to her with an opportunity. "It was serendipitous because I was looking to move to Mumbai," she says. The unusual choice of career runs in the family. Her father is a comic artist, and mother, a lawyer-turned-gamer. "I tried my hand at online gaming at age nine, with games like MapleSEA, AuditionSEA, and Blackshot. It was the League of Legends that made me take gaming seriously," she says. Back in Singapore, Hinds was the captain of Girlaxy, an all-girl Esports team. "Thanks to my mother, I was aware of all the drama that accompanies a game. Banter is part of it. But, it borders on harassment when you reveal that you are a woman. Insults about appearance and name-calling are common. Many women get turned off by the hostility and end up quitting altogether," she says. Her love for the game overpowered the pettiness that it comes with. When the Singapore team launched an ad-hoc India chapter titled Girlaxy India, Hinds joined in. It was acquired by Global Esports last year and rebranded GEms. GEms made their first public appearance at DreamHack, Delhi last December. 

The idea was long in coming, says Sinha, CEO, and co-founder. "Gaming is no longer a man's domain. According to a study by NewZoo, women contribute to 32 percent of the total gaming industry, which is a significant statistic." Apart from their common love for gaming, what brings together Hinds, Israney and Sinha are that their careers have followed similar trajectories: They have explored multiple avenues only to return to gaming. While Israney has worked as a filmmaker, Sinha continues to helm the administration as the CEO of Women's Hospital, a gynac hospital in Khar. "There's so much more to gaming than what meets the eye. We have players who double up as content creators, graphic designers, illustrators, and cosplayers. There's an entire industry built around it," says Israney.

It's been over a year since Hinds moved base, and has managed to acquire a working hold of Hindi. Incidentally, she is the only core team member who does not follow a floating roster. Currently, the girl squad includes Singapore-based Kyar 'Thwe' Kivs Thin, Assam's Sukanya 'EvilNut' Medhi, Tanisha 'Scar Dolphin' Kataria from Mumbai and Namratha 'Pxycho' Hariprasad from Bengaluru. The middle names are their screen handles. Hinds does not have one. "Everybody outside of the gaming circle calls me Apple. Only people in the fraternity call me by name. It's a good way to figure how they know me," she says. The team made its first public appearance at Mumbai's Comic Con last December and now plans to participate at League of Legends India Community Tournament and Female Singapore League 2020.

Being a gamer also involves unwavering discipline and perseverance. "We make it a point to practice every day. Although our interactions are entirely online, we have managed to build a rapport. If we want to have some fun, we play PUBG." She hopes to reach out to more women gamers to build a community. "We need more diversity and representation in the field. I hope our team is able to inspire more women to be part of the frat."

32%
Per cent of gaming industry that women contribute to according to a study by NewZoo

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