Smart Girl Stories
Gamer Girl
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. A Gamer Girl’s Journey into the Esports Industry

A Gamer Girl’s Journey into the Esports Industry

Before I became a gamer girl, I remember the day when this big white machine called a computer found its way to our home. I was nearly five years old, and it was as big as me. My father explained to me what this giant machine was and why it was used. I was mesmerized by its complexity. It offered me a whole new world to explore. I explored every setting there, every document we had, and clicked anywhere I could click until I stumbled upon some games my dad had brought in a disc from its workplace, where they shared files in a pool, be it songs, games, movies, or funny pictures. This was my first introduction to gaming. I played loads of Mario and Miniclip games. 

Gamer Girl Evolution

Growing up, I evolved with video games. First, it was some casual mini-games. Then, I started playing single-player games such as Zoo Tycoon and Dino Island, casually swapping to bigger-player RPG games like Skyrim and Fallout New Vegas, and finally joined the online gaming scene with Overwatch, which is when I became a true gamer girl. Up until Overwatch, gaming was a struggle because every game I got my hands on was in English, and I only spoke Turkish. While English is taught as a secondary language in schools, more is needed to understand and fully interact with video games. I always had my good old dictionary present with me, and I just gave the words I couldn’t find in the dictionary meaning from the context. Most times, this worked, and sometimes it didn’t – flashbacks to thinking “pregnant” meant dying in Zoo Tycoon, so I released all of the “dying” animals to nature. 🙂 

But through trial and error, I got better in English. When I started playing Overwatch, I had to speak with my teammates to win matches, so I was pushed out of my comfort zone to speak English. And I got exceptionally good at it over time without ever going to the US or the UK. Fast forward to my young adult and university life. I realized that I speak English better than my peers and am more tech-literate as well. Unbeknownst to me, this would be my biggest transferable skill later in life.

The Learning Curve

Until I started working, video games didn’t feel like they significantly impacted my life except for meaningful friendships and fun times. However, I didn’t realize that I had become a good problem solver and strategic thinker and that I could navigate crises calmly due to years of practice with games. The learning curve of any game teaches you how to master a subject. In real life, this translated into work tasks. A task that I have never done before? Let’s create a step-by-step strategy for it. I felt like I could do anything, which helped me become resourceful.

Because of these transferable skills, I was the go-to person for any HR systems we were using then. I was the primary contact for foreign employees, created guides for software, and, yes, you guessed it, lent a hand with the copier whenever it acted up. While I was doing my job as an HR professional, I had this feeling of emptiness and despair within me at all times. I always heard the phrase, “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” HR, I felt, was not a good fit for me to do until the day I retire, I thought to myself. 

My Interest In Video Games

In an attempt to do something with my interest in video games, I started my master’s journey in sociology. I wanted to bridge the gap between sociology and the world of gaming, specifically focusing on Erving Goffman and his dramaturgical analysis, which is precisely what I did in my thesis! In my years of game experience, I have observed many player types, which I have dived deeper into in my thesis. I created player types and analyzed them through a Goffmanian framework, dramaturgy. As I was doing this, an opportunity arose, leading to my introduction to the Gameplan family and the esports ecosystem.

In my interview with Gameplan, my transferable skills from my years in gaming, namely acquiring a new language, literacy in tech, being up to date with esports and video games, and resourcefulness, all shone through, and I got hired. I have been with Gameplan for years now, creating blogs, managing social media accounts, and focusing on digital marketing. My colleagues and managers have always fully supported me; I can feel my growth over the years. I can confidently say that Gameplan supports smart girls,  and I love advocating for how esports can be life-changing as we help wonderful educators use it in the classroom. But while I feel supported, I know this may not always be the case.

Gaming As A Woman

Getting into the world of esports and gaming as a woman can pose a significant challenge because the industry has been traditionally dominated by men. Even though esports has seen growth and popularity, it often maintains a culture that feels unwelcoming to women. This inequality not only mirrors wider societal prejudices but also impacts how the community operates and the career opportunities available. I can not count the many times I was harassed in online video games, which made gaming less enjoyable for a long time. Through my experiences, I’ve realized how crucial it is to create an inclusive space that embraces women and actively supports their participation across all aspects—whether as players, content creators, or executives. As we strive for diversity in esports, our aim is not just to achieve gender balance but also to enhance the industry by bringing diverse viewpoints and innovative ideas that can drive it forward.

If you are a smart girl reading this, know it is possible to turn what you love into something you can work on, like I did as a gamer girl! Transferrable skills and being aware of your abilities are crucial. This is also proof that you don’t need to be a professional esports player, a game developer, or a programmer to have a career in this field. A mere interest combined with another skill you have can help you get into esports and gaming. So, support your friends, nieces, children, and anyone interested; it may just be what they need to kick-start their journey.

Lastly, this is just a story about a girl from Turkey. Imagine what would happen if we could leverage games in education and use their transformative powers in our lives. One day, shortly, I would love to do work about women in games. In that case, I’ll come back here to share the continuation of my story. 

Thank you for reading, and I would love to connect with you! You can find me on LinkedIn. Check out Gameplan to learn more.

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Pınar (Pia) Arslan is a passionate Digital Marketing Manager at Gameplan, where she leverages her expertise in PR, SEO, blogging, and content creation to drive engagement and growth in the esports industry. With a Master of Arts degree in Sociology, her thesis focused on gamers, highlighting her deep understanding of the gaming community and its dynamics.

Before transitioning to the esports sector, Pınar built a strong foundation as an HR professional. Her diverse background enables her to bring a unique perspective to her current role, where she actively champions diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI). Pınar is dedicated to using her voice and platform to spotlight these critical issues and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment within the gaming and esports industries.

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