@eggelena, 21 – FUNDED

“Video games belong to every age, class, gender, and race,” says Elena who goes by @eggelena on Twitch and @settintiaras on Twitter. The JBL Quantum Grant winner is currently a senior, working on her mathematics thesis while interning at Evil Geniuses and serving as her university’s League of Legends Game Ambassador and community manager. “I am focused on being a leader, partner and, most importantly, a friend to women in esports. I strive to be the person I needed before I started my career journey, and I hope I can be there for another woman going through the same struggles!” she adds.

What is your dream in gaming and/or esports? 

My dream is that playing video games becomes normal for women and non-men — and free of judgment. I hope that current and future generations grow up proud of their gaming interests, but most importantly, have agency to pursue gaming passions as a career. Esports welcomes all backgrounds. Whether it is finding competition or a community to share experiences, I dream that people find a place to fit in and truly feel like they belong.

How will this award from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals? 

The JBL Quantum Grant will not only help fund my education but also allow me to reach my dream of being in the gaming industry — both behind and in front of the camera. Combining these skills allows me to be a storyteller of numbers, people, and experiences.

I am done with just being just a “student” or “gamer.” I have a special platform to brighten peoples’ days and help find solutions to unique business problems. This grant helps me afford a new streaming setup to allow me to better reach my audiences live.

What does being a 1,000 Dreams Fund – JBL Quantum Grant recipient mean to you? 

I am so honored and grateful because I am now one step closer to my dreams in esports. I hope that this means I get to work with other prominent women in the space — like Kyedae and BrookeAB — to grow positive and supportive communities that will set the precedence for future gaming generations. Being a recipient means that all my experiences and the people I have met (both good and not so good) have shaped me to be a leader in the field and reach audiences that I never thought I could reach.

Women are underrepresented in gaming and esports. What can we do to change this? 

On a macro level, we need continued education along with efforts to include women in the space. From elementary school to the collegiate space, teaching people about women in esports and gaming will help set up a network for women to feel like they belong in the industry. In fact, more education and representation in gaming will simply come from exposure to the topic but we need industry leaders providing resources to guide students who are interested in gaming careers.

Grants like the 1,000 Dreams Fund also help women gain footing in the space when they lack the support necessary.

On an individual level, reach out! Be interactive in your community to help shape a space that you and other gamers want to be a part of. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up for what you believe in.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way? 

Honestly, there is a lot to overcome. Jealous peers, toxic teammates, and even random people on the internet who prey on your self-worth. It is disheartening that people like me have been repeatedly disrespected because others decide to project their insecurities onto me.

This year was the first year I started playing League of Legends competitively. I love the community in this game and have made many good friends through playing. However, I also run into a lot of people who are not only unsupportive but who will go out of their way to make you look bad to others. They are quick to judge, make comments, and even put you down due to their own lack of self-worth. I’ve had to learn to not pay attention to these people, reach out to my own supportive network, and most importantly, stand up for myself and know my own self-worth.

In general, the gaming community means so much to me, so I made it my personal mission to organize events that would help broaden ignorant player views and encourage education.

What advice do you have for women who want to work in the gaming or esports industry? 

There are so many avenues for you to get into the gaming industry. You could conduct research, plan tournaments, organize events, design characters, or even stream games! However, the biggest one is just being active in your community. Try to find spaces that are friendly to women in gaming and, if there isn’t one, take initiative and create one! Know the ins and outs. Be hungry to learn and be steadfast when faced with difficulties. And always, always be ready to advocate for yourself.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals? 

I stay motivated by constantly working on myself. I’d be lying if I said I never have bad days. Sadly, most women face difficulties from male peers in the form of delegitimization, lack of respect, and harassment. I’m grateful for supportive women in the industry who have more experience than me — specifically Sab from Evil Geniuses. She says that women need to have a strong support network of diverse women in esports and gaming. It’s important to not only be friends, but also be open about work and keep each other safe. I’m always learning and always willing to give advice or talk about my experience to anyone who needs it. Please feel free to reach out! I would love to talk to you about my path so far in gaming