@shleyy, 20 – FUNDED

“Gaming is something I’ve been incredibly passionate about since I was a child,” says @shleyy who is also currently a full-time college student. “I never thought this passion would lead to a potential future career for me, but here I am!” P.S.: If you ask this JBL Quantum Grant winner about her favorite anime series, she’ll tell you Cardcaptor Sakura, Gintama, Darling in the Franxx, Overlord, Erased, Toradora, Sword Art Online, and Orange.

What is your dream in gaming and/or esports? 

My dream is to become a media planner or social media manager in the gaming industry. I also stream as a hobby as I love spreading my passion for gaming and seeing people bond over something as simple as video games. Especially now, because of the pandemic, gaming has become even more popular than before, serving as a social connection or bond to the outside world.

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

This award will give me access to essential software to expand my skillset, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, and help me upgrade my nine-year-old PC to maximize streaming capabilities and work efficiency. I have never been able to afford Photoshop or InDesign, putting me at a significant disadvantage in the media and ad industry — especially in the world of gaming. Being proficient in these basic programs is a minimum requirement for many jobs and internships that I want to pursue. I cannot wait to learn and see what I can create with these new resources.

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

I am so grateful — and it especially means a lot to see organizations like 1,000 Dreams Fund supporting women.  To see other strong and powerful women knocking down barriers in the gaming industry is truly inspiring and empowering for me.

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

I’ve seen so many articles about toxic masculinity, “fraternity” workplace culture, and game developers being fired due to sexual harassment complaints. This is genuinely not okay and horrendous. How can women want to work in the gaming industry when we find out every day that another company is corrupted by gross indecency?! We need to focus first on reforming the industry to make it a safe, comfortable, and fun place for women to work and then work on creating more opportunities for women. More programs like 1,000 Dreams Fund’s JBL Quantum Grant should be implemented to provide women with these opportunities — because men are often given priority in this industry.

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

It is sad to say, but it is extremely common for women in gaming to deal with sexual harassment and hate speech — and I am not any different. I have experienced all these things and have found it hard to continue what I am doing. Sometimes I just want to relax and play a game like Apex Legends or VALORANT, but women are not safe even in-game voice chat. Due to how negative players become once they find out I am a woman, I have automatically disabled voice chat in any game. Although it is unfair to not have communication with my team, it is traumatizing to continue being verbally harassed by men just because I am a “girl.”

Even in real life, if I tell a guy I like to play video games, I can already feel him questioning my ability. I feel like I am constantly trying to prove that, even though I am a “girl,” I can still play games at the same skill level as a guy. The stereotype that girls can’t play games is incredibly outdated and needs to be abandoned for good. Even if I am a girl who cannot play games as well as a guy, why does that even matter? I don’t understand why men feel the constant need to compare genders regarding skill level.

Also, when applying to internships or jobs in the gaming industry, sometimes I feel that I am not offered an interview just because I am a woman — and that a male applying to the same exact job with the same skillset would receive preference over me. The fact that I am scared about recruiters finding out I am a woman is a problem with society — and not just in gaming. The gender pay gap has been around for so long and still exists to this day reinforcing the stigma that women are somehow inferior to men.

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

Honestly, be prepared to stand up for yourself and your work. Don’t take any opportunities where you don’t feel 100% comfortable. And don’t settle for anything you’re too good for. I once almost accepted an unpaid internship offer — just because I could not find anything around the same time. But, there were so many red flags and I felt so conflicted. In the end, I went with my gut and declined the offer and I’m so glad I did. I ended up finding a better opportunity.

Also, if you want to get into streaming or content creation, you have to be ready to accept that, no matter what you do, some people live to spread hate speech online. You really have to embrace yourself and not care about what other people think. Even though I only stream as a side hobby, I have experienced a crazy amount of harassment.

Ultimately, my best advice is not to let something get you down, and even though this sounds cheesy, keep persisting no matter what. I know sometimes it might be challenging, but in the end, it’s your job to pick yourself up and keep looking for more opportunities to further your career. Don’t forget to network and make connections along the way!

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals? 

Sometimes staying motivated can be really difficult — especially when you try really hard and keep encountering rejection letters or other forms of failure. It helps to have something to get out your frustrations like working out, journaling, or even just playing games.

In order to stay focused, I make a weekly schedule of what I should generally be doing everyday. But I don’t plan my week out down to an hourly basis. I find this to be more stress-inducing than stress-relieving. It’s important to have some leeway so you have time for self-care or hanging out with friends to take a break from your busy schedule. Don’t forget that staying home and doing absolutely nothing is also a form of self-care. It’s okay to have “unproductive” days. The key to staying motivated is working at a steady place and taking breaks along the way.