Mastering the game? Why Mastercard is launching Gamer Academy?

In an era where over 3 billion people identify as gamers, the gaming industry stands at a pivotal juncture. Payments are an important part of this vast economy, and Mastercard aims to be at its center.

Today, a remarkable 3 billion-plus people consider themselves gamers. That’s more than a third of all people on earth. The number jumps considerably for Generation Z, with nine of ten calling themselves gamers and numbers are increasing. And, importantly, nearly half of the gaming population are women, and some leading industry experts suggest that we’re near a tipping point in markets like the U.S., where women could soon dominate the gaming landscape.

Yet the professional gaming and esports ecosystem — those who work in the industry, behind the scenes or in the public eye as influencers, esports athletes or broadcasters — is overwhelmingly male. Research shows that women make up roughly 5% of the esports workforce and fewer than 1% of professional gamers.

The gaming industry faces a staggering imbalance of opportunity as well. Allowing more people to equitably pursue their passion for gaming as a career not only is good for those individuals but will lead to a more dynamic, richer sport. More representation at the upper echelons creates role models to inspire young women and could help reduce the gender bias that has historically plagued the larger gaming community, fostering a more inclusive environment for everyone. That's why Mastercard just announced the first-ever Mastercard Gamer Academy.

The Mastercard Gamer Academy is designed to provide an incredible career development experience to gamers around the world. Mastercard's focus is on creating a supportive, inclusive environment for all to pursue their passions — and thrive. Starting later this fall, aspiring gamers around the world are invited to apply to be part of the curriculum-based program, which will kick off in 2024. Drawing on Mastercard's partnerships, the curriculum will build critical and cutting-edge skills needed to pursue careers in esports and gaming — while providing unparalleled access to esteemed gaming and esports professionals and major esports events.

There’s significant work to do to achieve greater inclusion in gaming and esports, but sports like soccer, tennis and rugby show us that strides can be made. Mastercard seen firsthand the unique responsibility — and opportunity — that brands have to champion inclusivity and to invest wisely, helping make these industries accessible and welcoming spaces for all.

For the Gamer Academy, Mastercard identified and partnered with organizations that share these values. Riot Games, their inaugural gaming partner since Mastercard started sponsoring League of Legends in 2018, has created some of today’s most diverse esports games, as well as programs designed to mentor women, like VCT Game Changers. The Academy will also be powered by premier global esports organization G2 Esports, which leads the charge in representation for women’s gaming teams. Its approach — providing women’s teams with the same level of support and training as their male counterparts — has led to successes in both Valorant and League of Legends.

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