The number of professional esports players is quickly growing worldwide and in Australia as well, with top-level play and streaming serving as the two main avenues for success in the space. Some of the most popular Australian female content creators and players are becoming juggernauts in their own right.
With women making up half of Australia’s online gaming community, it’s somewhat of a surprise that their successes are still limited in the highest levels of the digital space. Some of the trailblazers and trendsetters are smashing away at the glass ceiling, mind you, with shockingly good results…
Natalie Acquisto (NatChats)
Natalie’s rise from makeup consultant to full-time streamer was meteoric by any definition of the word, with the South African-born Aussie amassing over 20 000 followers in just three months’ time playing popular FPS games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. Now a full-time streamer and the first in the nation to be partnered with Facebook Gaming last summer, she’s been a real trailblazer for female gamers in the space.
Michelle Mannering (MishManners)
Seen as “the unofficial queen of esports and hackathons in Australia” per a 2018 interview, Michelle’s been a big part of the industry for many years now. Her strong tech portfolio and developer experience make her stand out amongst the crowded field of streamers in the gaming industry, with her variety streams on Twitch also ensuring a consistent presence in the gaming space.
She highlighted Australia’s delayed game releases as one of the big hurdles in front of professional play in the aforementioned interview, with the Pause Awards 2020 winner also adding that the future is bright for the industry, locally and globally alike. The growth of the competitive scene is also fueled by esports betting, which serves as one of the many ways for tournament organizers and teams to attract sponsors for this endeavor.
Dhayana Sena (MissDeusGeek)
An ambassador for Xbox and the co-founder for one of their as-of-yet-unnamed gaming projects, Dhyana created “Women of Xbox” from scratch to establish an inclusive community for women looking to get involved in the gaming space in a safe environment. The inspiration came to her after speaking to women who decided to leave their online profiles gender-ambiguous because of all the stereotypes floating out there.
Oddly and unfortunately, her efforts were the subject of some backlash in the gaming space because of the exclusive nature of the group, not that this stopped Dhayana from continuing to build on her successes as she blazes a trail for inclusivity in the world of gaming. She’s also the first ANZAC winner of Xbox’s MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award.
Sarina Bruno (Sarina)
The former professional CS:GO player on Kings Gaming Club (founded by fellow Australian Annabelle “Haiimbelle” Harper) is now a full-time streamer with over 21 000 followers on Twitch and over 32 000 on Twitter. As one of Australia’s bigger professional players, she serves as a shining example of what’s possible in gaming if you really put your mind to it.
As more developers and publishers realize the real demographic breakdown in gaming – with female players making up a much larger slice of the pie than expected by casual observers, often even the plurality – there’s little doubt that the space will become more inclusive and stories like these will become regular occurrences on every level of the ecosystem.
Until we get there, Australian female trailblazers like Natalie, Michelle, Dhayana and Sarina are immeasurably important in making the gaming space more welcoming to everyone, and their stories should serve as inspiration to gamers all around the world, regardless of who they are and where they come from.