@valentiiya, 21 – FUNDED

When Val — @valentiiya on Twitch — started gaming in elementary school, she thought she was the only girl who even knew what a video game was. That was an isolating experience — one in which she often felt like an outcast. “I had no idea that other girls played video games and felt similarly,” she says. Now, this JBL Quantum Grant winner wants to use her own experiences to help young girls who might feel the same way she once did. You can find also her on Twitter.

What is your dream in gaming and/or esports? 

I want to represent the gaming industry with my drive, motivation, and passion for pushing new ideas and concepts while challenging the current industry norms.

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

With this award, I’ll have a major aid in finishing my degree at Minnesota State University, Mankato; I’ll be majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis on Game Design and a minor in HR Management.

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

I’m absolutely elated to represent female gamers everywhere; it’s an honor. I never thought an opportunity like this would exist when I began my schooling in this field, as female gamers are often underrepresented in the field.

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

We need to start challenging the idea of what women can be in esports. Too many times, women are assumed to be on the sidelines in this industry. But we need to show that women can also do more. Women perform a variety of leadership tasks in game development AND compete in high-end esports. However, we rarely hear about these achievements and accomplishments — and women are therefore underestimated. We need to show that we know what we’re talking about and that we’re not afraid to prove others wrong.

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

As we know, this industry is a male-dominated field with women often ridiculed when they express interest. While I have a major passion for game design and esports, I often have been treated as if I need to try a thousand times more than my male gaming peers in order to be recognized and “prove” that I’m just as much of a gamer as they are.

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

Remember that no matter how alone you may feel in your field, there are other female gamers who have gone through similar struggles and are willing to help you achieve your goals. If I reached out or expressed my interest more in prior years, I could have found more girl-gamer friends earlier on.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals? 

Whenever I play a game, watch a stream, or interact with the gaming community, I always think: “What could be better about this?” — and that makes me even more driven to improve myself.