@the_beeez_knees, 33 – Funded

While she may have discovered her interest in programming and coding a bit later than some of her peer, @tha_beeez_knees is every bit as passionate to bring her dreams to fruition. Read on for how this JBL Quantum Grant winner is facing and overcoming challenges as a queer BIPOC woman in the industry.

What is your dream in gaming and/or esports? 

I want to be game developer and game play engineer.

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

I will put this fund towards the development of my skills with coding for games. I have a few in-depth programs I would love to attend and I now have the funds with which to do so! Any remainder will be saved to attend the Game Developers Conference!

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

Receiving encouragement to pursue my goals, especially as a non-college-aged individual, comes as a big relief. Falling into coding and working with programming later in life is challenging, especially as a queer BIPOC woman. Being supported by the JBL Quantum Grant truly makes me feel like a community believes in me.

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

Creating safe spaces in gaming is an essential step. As a woman gamer, the amount of vitriol I encounter when playing games can be overwhelming. The constant challenge to one’s presence in esports and the scrutiny of one’s skills are unfair and toxic. It is crucial to establish and enforce these spaces as safe for women gamers. We need to hold gamers who do not respect these rules accountable and show them there are real repercussions for behaving as if we aren’t allowed in this space.

Next, we must address access. Women, especially queer and BIPOC women, have not had the same access to gaming and esports as others. We need to continue supporting them with tangible funds, programs, mentorship, and overall support. This support should not be limited to younger individuals or those in college. Many people, passionate and interested, lack this support even as they grow older. It’s essential to recognize that these underrepresented groups are not just young students.

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

Toxic and disgusting gaming communities; lack of access to funds and equipment; and a lack of proper mentorship to know what I need to do to pursue my goals — or how I would even go about it.

It has felt, at times, like walking in fog on a path you don’t know in a massive maze that no one told you about.

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

Honestly, find community — whether that be allies who support you or people on the same journey as you. The joke we’ve always heard is ‘It’s dangerous to go alone,’ but it truly is. You can do it all on your own, but having people to turn to who understand the environment you are fighting to be seen in and the challenges it presents really helps.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals? 

Community helps, as does taking steps back to heal from disappointments and setbacks. I do not expect things to always be wins and go smoothly. Having people who I can turn to and say, ‘I tried, and this did not work, and I want to take a break before I try again,’ and have them say, ‘Let’s take a break. I am sorry that did not work,’ is so healing.