Transcript for Erin Ashley Simon discusses inclusion in the gaming industry
- Now, we're gonna turn to someone who is leveling up the playing field for women in the gaming world. Erin Ashley Simon is one of the most influential Black women in esports as a broadcaster, gamer, and co-owner of the esports organization XSET.
And now, she is making it her mission to establish inclusivity in this multibillion dollar industry and inspire an entire new generation of girls to join in. And Erin Ashley Simon is here with us now. Welcome and thanks for being with us.
- Yeah, thank you for having me.
- And I love that you started your love of gaming, perhaps, actually playing the game. You were a big soccer player. So how did you pivot from actually being physically in the game to virtually doing it?
- Yeah, so I played soccer competitively at a high level all my life. And during those times, I wasn't able to take vacations or go to Disney World all the time. And so I played video games as a way to kind of find an escape from the high competitive aspect of sports and academics.
And even when I was a D1 athlete over at the University of Kentucky, it was always like a nice escape for me. But the misconception also that I feel like that experience has taught me is gaming is such a social thing. It's more social than what people expect. So I made so many friends all over the world. So that competitive drive, I'm still able to find it in the video games that I play today.
- Yeah, and it's interesting you point that out because a lot of parents will see their children gaming and say, you need to get up, you need to actually have real contact with real people. You say, though, that you actually found community. And that that's an important part of gaming, that people kind of just say that's not real connection.
- Yeah, I mean, you can literally play video games with anyone across the world. You know, we are so used to playing it with friends who sit next to us. But now, you can play with someone who doesn't even speak the same languages. And the abilities and the games you guys can still play it and you have that common love and passion for gaming. So yeah, it really opens up your world. And it introduces you to like different cultures, different people, and so much more.
- So you're in this world, in this sphere, what conversations should we be having about racism, about sexism as we try-- and as the industry tries to create a more inclusive arena for everyone to participate in this particular area?
- So the one thing I would say is that, yes, there are issues of toxicity and other things. But the internet and gaming are just a reflection of society. So the same issues in society are in this space.
However, there's a beautiful aspect to it, right? Like, for example, the University of Kentucky, I have my Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund there. And created it for an opportunity to allow youth from all over the place-- so my family is originally from New York City. They came from Puerto Rico. So I've seen how opportunities changed their life. And so I wanted to create opportunities through esports and gaming and the positive side of the industry, for people in New York, and Kentucky, and all these different places.
And now, that I'm the chief culture officer over at XSET, the organization that I'm a co-owner for. I now have the opportunity to use gaming as a vehicle for youth to not only be successful in the esports gaming space, but I want them to be successful in life.
- Yeah, no, it's a beautiful mission. And why do you think this is such a male-dominated industry? And what would you say to young girls who might feel like, well, that's a guy thing. That's a boy thing.
- Well, what I would say is like it's not. I mean, gaming is for everyone. Like, everyone, everywhere, at any time. And so I think there's this-- another misconception. But there's actually studies that show a high percentage of women play mobile games. They play video games.
I'm a perfect example. I play video games all the time. And so I think that because there's such a universal component to gaming, I think that when people dive into the industry, they'll see there are women who are executives at big companies, like Riot Games. There's women who-- big executives at Xbox.
Actually Xbox also has all-- most of the executives there are all women. So you'll actually see it's very diverse, it's very multilayered, and there's so much beauty to it. Although, you know, sometimes the negativity is shown a lot more, but what I have to say is, it is one of the most embracive, beautiful, and diverse communities.
AMY ROBACH: It's interest-- you mentioned that it's, you know, some of the-- one of the biggest misconceptions is that you're isolated or that it's not social. What is the biggest thing you get-- I can see your joy. I can see your passion. What is the biggest thing you get out of gaming?
- Well, gaming is one of the very few things where there is a goal, there's a challenge, and you can achieve it and you can accomplish it, no matter who you are, no matter if even, you know, if you have certain disabilities, if you speak different languages. You can still start from A and go to Z just like anyone else.
And so there are so many different opportunities. There's also kids who are winning tournaments. And they're able to, you know, take care of their families, get scholarships. There are so many additional benefits to gaming. They even have video games that help to treat ADHD. So there are so many amazing benefits that come with video games that I hope that all the viewers who are tuning in today will be able to see and explore themselves.
- That's interesting, I never thought about how it transcends physical limitations, logistical limitations, all of that. Erin-- Erin Ashley Simon, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it. And congratulations on all of your success.
- Thank you as well. I hope to be back soon.
AMY ROBACH: Yeah, come on back anytime.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.