AnyKey is an initiative aiming to diversify eSports

"For the fair and inclusive future of gaming"

Despite the fact that videogames have an incredibly diverse global market and attract players of all genders, races, sexual preferences, and social backgrounds eSports is a a field largely dominated by straight, white, affluent young men. This is no doubt in part because women aren’t made to feel welcome in the area. After all, only last year a study found that in a competitive gaming situation, men who were losing were much more likely to turn their aggressive feelings on female players. But it’s also been a result of marketers using eSports competitions to target an incredibly narrow demographic. Though we’re beginning to see improvements in representation in eSports, it’s clear more can be done and Intel have joined up with the Electronic Sports League to do just that.

With an initiative called AnyKey the companies intend to “create more opportunities and inclusive spaces” in eSports, “whilst advocating for the underrepresented members of competitive communities” and they actually seem to be going about it in an interesting way.

AnyKey has a two-pronged strategy which, on one side, conducts research on initiative related topics and, on the other, uses this research to implement practical solutions. The research side of things is led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor T.L. Taylor; she and her team establish discussion opportunities through panels and workshops as well as perform audience studies in order to establish areas and opportunities for improvements and action. The development team, headed by Morgan Romine, former Director of Esports at Red 5 Studios and Co-Founder of Ubisoft’s Frag Dolls, take this research and use it to develop strategies and practical solutions that should actually tackle established problems.

Two whitepapers have already been published containing information gathered from AnyKey’s Women in eSports workshop and the Intel Extreme Masters event in San Jose last year. From here, the AnyKey is hosting its first AnyKey lounge at the Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland that’s happening now. The lounge will be “a welcoming space for conversation, information exchange, and networking.” It’ll also be the place where the AnyKey Code of Conduct will be presented for the first time, which “represents an inclusion policy for eSports events and online broadcasts to formally address issues surrounding harassment.” As well as this, its also supporting Intel’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament for women. This sounds like positive steps to us.

Main Image via Flickr © Jakob Wells