The Art of Female Gaming

July 31, 2018 in Advocacy, Gaming


eSports is one of the fastest growing sporting sectors and could be worth over US$5 billion globally by 2020. But this is not the most interesting aspect of this fast-rising and highly competitive world. Instead, eSports – the competitive play of certain video games for prizes – is proving to be a great magnet for women.

According to a PWC study, even though the gender split among gamers is 50/50, more women identify as professional gamers than men. There are two reasons for this: more women are starting to play games at a young age, thus improving their skills faster, and gaming is an egalitarian sport where strength and other physical advantages do not apply.

This is certainly the experience of Jana “SaltyMonkey” du Toit, captain of Bravado Gaming’s all-female Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team, Bravado Finesse: “Anyone who has played games – maybe played Call of Duty with your dad on a console – has a chance at professional gaming. If you’ve played anything, there might be something out there for you. I think many women are just unaware that it’s something that you can do.”

This was certainly her story. Even though Du Toit played games all her life, they were mainly single player and often on consoles. In her twenties, she discovered competitive gaming, which aligned nicely with her competitive nature. An eager sports participant during her school years, Du Toit was one of many whose itch for competition needed a lot of scratching – and esports delivered.

Changing the face of a male scene

But this idea is still foreign to a world that generally regards gamers as loner boys hiding in basements. Such perceptions are changing fast, not the least because new generations have normalised gaming to the same level of movies and music – it’s just something everyone does. But despite being around for more than two decades, female gamers have had a much tougher fight to be recognised.

Du Toit says that at one stage you could expect disparaging behaviour from guys: they either hit on you or make chauvinistic remarks. But  this has been changing in the past few years: “It was very difficult in the beginning. Most people didn’t want to play you because they either didn’t want to lose to girls or they didn’t feel like the skill level was similar or beneficial to them. To a great extent that was true. The skill level wasn’t quite there. But we did find people who were willing to assist us and play us and help us.”

Yet attitudes in South Africa have been changing, she adds, particularly over the last eighteen months. The shift is happening due to a combination of factors: female gamers have shown they can compete and win, games that appeal to women such as Hearthstone have become popular competitive titles, and gaming groups are much more focused on attracting female gamers and treating them as equals.

“It’s become a lot more normal to find girls in gaming and who don’t have the same issues we had before, where guys looked down on you. It is a way friendlier environment. All of a sudden, if I join a game, now I’m hardly ever the only female in the game.”

Serious competitors for a serious sport

This is not an idle pastime. Du Toit and her fellow teammates put in four hours of practice a day, six days a week, while balancing full-time jobs or studies. Their preferred game is CS:GO, which she initially avoided due to its violent gunplay. But the wider appeal of the game – chess-like strategy, viper reflexes and serious team cooperation – drew her and her teammates in.

Today Du Toit and the rest of Bravado Finesse – Kayhla “KayC” Calder, Rachel “rayChillza” van Dyk, Christin “2SSB” Meistre and Carmen Joe “Cjay” Mcleod – have set their sights on the big leagues of eSports.

Says Meistre: “Stereotyping in female gaming, in particular, is: “‘Oh, if a girl spends time sitting at a computer, she’s fat and lazy and typical stereotypes that everyone knows about’. We strive to eradicate this. We are much more than just a female team. We’re a team coming into the scene and wanting to create huge waves.”

A humble dream has evolved into something much bigger for them, Du Toit says. “We started off last year when we formed this team and we wanted to change female gaming for our scene. We wanted to make it acceptable and normalise it. Having achieved something so small and then realise it worked, we realised that we work together as a team and we can dream. For the first time we are dreaming about things like going international, be some of the best players in SA – that is something worth doing. That’s where I realised it’s what I want to do.”

But the fight for recognising female gamers is not over. Attitudes persist. The way to end that debate once and for all is for more women to join the ranks, play well and make their name as the best. This is why Bravado Gaming, sponsored by Dell EMC, Intel and Alienware, has an open invitation to any aspirant players, especially women.

“Put yourself out there. Don’t stop – keep doing it,” are Du Toit’s words of encouragement. “Keep practising every single day. Eventually, it will all get together. Don’t give up and it will work. We love to help female gamers. If there are female gamers who don’t know what to do or have got specific questions or issues, they can reach out to any one of us. We are on social media and we are happy to help.”

Not only is eSports set to become one of the greatest sporting movements in history, but women gamers are poised to be its dominant force. So next time you get beaten by a girl, remember: you’re paving the way for a future champion.

Watch Bravado Finesse at Rush Esports Expo 2018 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=298UcnhZ9CQ

Woman in Tech of the Week: Ruanne Lloyd

July 24, 2018 in CIO, Profiles, Woman of the Week

Woman in Tech of the Week: Ruanne Lloyd

Name: Ruanne Lloyd

Designation: Recently retrenched – Chief Information Officer.

What do you do every day?

A large part of my job is coaching and mentoring. I do believe that this is very important and women can do this job well, as we are natural nurturers. Ensuring the engine is running smoothly, and the correct processes are in place, creates the environment for both creativity and innovation.

I ensure the different teams communicate well with each other and support each other. Project managers, business analysts, developers, designers, testers and support staff are all part of the same team, and communication between them is key. I put a lot of emphasis on team work.

Every morning we do stand-ups for all the projects. This gives the whole team a clear direction on what they need to prioritise for the day. It is important then to let them get on with the job and not to allocate new tasks during the day.

I will then answer emails, have meetings with clients, and if necessary help with small tasks if required.

All critical tasks will be managed throughout the day, getting regular feedbacks so as to ensure the client can be updated.

I dedicate Wednesday afternoons to technology meetings where everyone can participate and come up with new ideas.

Friday afternoons are for training sessions or sometimes the sharing of motivational videos.

Exco meetings are held weekly where as a director I will participate in the strategic planning of the company.

How did you get into the tech space?

After matric, I knew that I would go to university. I really wanted to become a physiotherapist, but failed to get in. I decided to do Computer Science, as I knew I did enjoy programming. I had been taught by close friends to program in Pascal. I did Physics I, as a backup plan. After getting a first in my first year, I knew then, this is what I wanted to do. I eventually majored in Computer Science and Computational and Applied Mathematics. I had obtained a bursary, so I started working for the company, but continued to complete my Honours through UNISA part-time.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

To believe in myself and to have faith. It was my first job, and I was very shy, but I was keen and motivated to learn. During the first six years we had implemented an ERP system and were very busy with many other internal development projects. At the age of 27, my mentor and I.T Manager resigned to immigrate to America. He recommended me to take over his position. I was completely surprised, and also knew I was the youngest person in the team. I took the position, even though I did not feel I was capable at that time.  That leap of faith grew my confidence exponentially. My mom always said to me that there is no such word as can’t.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?

This is a very exciting space to be in, technology is changing the world. There are so many options to choose from, front-end / back-end development, security, data analytics, artificial intelligence etc. Most people would think you would have to be a very logical person to enter the technical sector, but this is not true, it also requires a very creative mind.  The best results always come from those who are allowed to tap into their creative side.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?

I will always ask myself, what difference can I make today? I am blessed because I really enjoy my work and I am a very passionate and driven person, so there is no lack of motivation. 

Management for me, is more about mentoring and motivating individuals to become their best-selves. It’s truly motivating when you see individuals grow before your eyes.

“Managing people is so much about being able to listen.”

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

The great thing about life is that no matter how old we are, we are always growing. I am proud of my achievements so far and becoming a Chief Information Officer.

Over the years I have seen how I.T departments would drive businesses. There has been a shift over the years, and businesses have started to drive technology, especially now that everything is becoming digitalized. Technology can be fun – having all these “toys” to play with, but without a business use case the “toys” hold no value. 

In the last six months I have become involved in a cryptocurrency project to learn more about blockchain. I am also currently learning more about machine learning as I have had many years of experience in working with data. I am hoping in the next few years my career will take me into these fields.

I really want to be the best version of myself, and that is what I will strive to be as I grow older. I want to be a mentor for other people, especially to women entering the technology sector.

Twitter : @ruanne_lloyd

LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruanne-lloyd-66161899/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Dominique Sandwith

July 18, 2018 in Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Woman in Tech of the Week: Dominique Sandwith

Name: Dominique Sandwith
Designation: Co-founder
Company: Yellow Door Collective

What do you do every day?
I manage the day-to-day running of the agency, as well as oversee web development and design projects for our clients. Essentially my job entails making sure that the team feels supported and that all of our clients are getting what they pay for.

How did you get into the tech space?
I have always been tech ‘savvy’ – but I started my love affair with digital marketing just after university, when social media for business started taking off. I think the digital world has opened up so many doors for companies that may never have had the exposure that they can have today. Everyday I see Internet successes such as a small business which started in Stellenbosch and within a few years is selling their products to customers in the US and the UK. These stories excite me about the tech space and how digital marketing can change the way businesses are succeeding today.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Create your own job. So I did.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
A lot of my own success just came from good luck and being in the right place at the right time. That being said, I’m a huge believer in fate and know that every decision I make, whether it ends up being the right one or not, has some impact on my future. So I would say it’s important not to dwell on things that don’t work out, rather figure out what you learnt from the situation and move on to the next thing. And more specifically for the tech space: go out and meet people, chat about your work, be involved in your industry – there is no industry where networking is more applicable that in the tech sector, especially in a ‘small town’ like Cape Town.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
I am motivated by the people I work with who are excited about their jobs and that makes me excited too. It also motivates me to know that I am helping other small – medium businesses to gain success in their market.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be someone that people in my industry think highly of, respect and also understand. I want to employ people and make my little corner of the world a better place to be.

Social Media
@domsandwith

Blog


https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominiquekotze/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Emma Donovan

July 9, 2018 in Business development, Founder, Profiles, Woman of the Week

Woman in Tech of the Week: Emma Donovan

Name:  Emma Donovan

Designation: Co-founder and new business director

Company: Yellow Door Collective – www.yellowdoorcollective.com

What do you do every day? I develop new products for Yellow Door, meet with potential clients and give strategic input on all our current projects and retainers. Every day brings a new set of challenges and I love that no two days are the same. We have a diverse range of clients that keep us on our toes and give us the opportunity to expand our knowledge, try out new marketing ideas and delve a little deeper into the tech space.

How did you get into the tech space? My Media & Writing degree at UCT only just scratched the surface when it came to exploring the tech space – but it whet my appetite and left me hungry to learn more.

My first job gave me the opportunity to write about a broad range of topics and really delve in to the fast paced and ever-changing online world; however it was the guidance of a few great mentors and partnering with Dominique Sandwith to launch Yellow Door Collective in 2014 that really enabled me to effectively adapt and use my skills in the tech space.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?  Speak with honesty. Think with sincerity. Act with integrity.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Before you dive in to the tech sector (or any industry for that matter) my advice is to network, research and get as much work experience as possible. Job shadowing and short internships will give you a good sense of what you’re in for – and will help you make an informed career choice. Work experience is also great on your CV and is likely to help you get a foot in the door once you’ve hand picked the companies you’d really like to work for.

Find out what you’re really passionate about, and then do that.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?  Having the opportunity to lead a balanced life and add value in different ways – mentoring our team, creating strategies for clients, and enjoying time with the people that matter most.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A successful entrepreneur that still appreciates the small things in life.

Social Media

Woman in Tech of the Week: Rosina Mothibi

July 2, 2018 in Operations, Profiles, Woman of the Week

Woman in Tech of the Week: Rosina Mothibi

Name: Rosina Mothibi

Designation: Institutional Administrator

Company: Institute for Performance Management

What do you do every day?
System administrator support, administration for tenders and other departments.

How did you get into the tech space?
Whilst working as a cashier, I wanted to get a better understanding of how the tills and printers worked, so my cousin and I came across some courses in IT at UNISA. It was a long, in-depth course but I had clear goals in mind  “to complete the course and work at an IT department”.  The first 3 years of course got me really excited about web design and websites, but during my last 2 years, one of my courses was Java-Android, where we used eclipse to create Android applications and for my implementation I used PHP & MySQL for the system. This changed my world.

Additionally, I would say what inspired me to be in the tech space is the passion and the love of technology. Furthermore, attending workshops and hackathons, where you meet other women in technology, these females that motivate and inspire me, and who makes my world complete.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“If they say you cannot do it, then by all means do it and show them that it can be done by women as well”.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
Set your goal, understand the obstacles and create positive mental picture to clear your mind of self-doubt and then embrace the challenge to stay on track by showing the world that you can do it, IT is not only for men, remember the first person to write the algorithm for computer was a woman so we need more women in tech sectors to be recognized as professionals as well.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
My son is the best motivator in my life, he is the main reason why I wake-up every day. Last year, I took a break after receiving my AdvDipl so that I can look for a job and work in an IT Department only, unfortunately that did not go as I planned, then I decided to continue studying as part of my future goal. I get up every morning to tackle my daily activities at work which I enjoy assisting clients and colleagues remotely, and after work I focus on my school activities such as discussions, tasks, assignments and research to be done for other tasks. At the end of the day my son will ask me “Mom how was your day; did you manage to do what you wanted to accomplish for the day”? He is also inspired by what I do. I have volunteered in a GirlCodeza programes, different department such as planning for the upcoming hackathons that will take place in august (JHB, CT,Durban), planning for monthly workshops – so that those who attended the workshops can apply all that information that they have learned into the hackathon challenge. When there are workshops to attend, my son is always
accommodating me. I am really motivated by helping at GirlCodeza workshops doing something that I really enjoy and very passionate about. What motivates me to wake-up so early every day is that I also have a google challenge for
android apps to complete which I enjoy every lesson of it and it is so
interesting!!!

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a Director or Lecturer of an IT department, inspire and motivate other female techies, give back to the community and a mentor for programmes like GirlCodeza

Social Media Profiles:

https://www.facebook.com/madilekere.mothibi
https://www.instagram.com/madikro/
https://twitter.com/MadiRos4
https://plus.google.com/u/0/105980912900099493079
https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosina-m-53976239/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pamela Mkhize

June 27, 2018 in Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pamela Mkhize

Name: Pamela Mkhize

Designation: Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite

Company: Enel Green Power

What do you do every day? I solve problems. Sometimes they are presented to me as technical challenges, other times they are presented as “the usual way of doing things”. I always strive to get results and provide solutions in the most effective and efficient of ways, instead of just “the usual” way. This involves me being able to make tough decisions quickly, and being able to respond to the requirements of the organisation that I serve and lead in, before a need arises. Every day I am both a servant to the business and the functions within it, where I interact with the Heads of other units within my organisation and external stakeholders; I am also a leader in the department and the countries that I am responsible for, which include South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, and Morocco, to name a few.

How did you get into the tech space? I’ve always been passionate about technology. Growing up I was usually categorised as that boring girl who would always be found by herself reading articles related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths), I wouldn’t read them because I didn’t have anything to do, but I would read them because I was passionate about a “connected” future, which at that time was perceived as unreality. This then led me to enrolling for Electrical Engineering, and majored in Telecommunication Systems. For close to 10 years I worked in heavy manufacturing industries, where I did programming, control systems, and automation. During that period, I was seconded to a German technology company, where I contributed to a ZAR 960 million rand project. A few years ago, I was headhunted by Enel Green Power to lead their ICT strategy and operations as they started their operations in South Africa. They were looking for someone who not only had expertise in ICT, but also in Telecommunications, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Today, about 15 years into my career, I am more excited about what tech means today, than I was when I started my career; not only is tech becoming more and more relevant in the energy and manufacturing sectors, but in our daily living as well.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Although I understand that I am a product of what many people have contributed in my life, the one advice that stuck with me was one that I received when I had just started my career. My then mentor would say to me: “Always have your finger on the pulse Pam, always”. It took me some time to fully understand what he meant by that. At that time I was working for an organisation where 5 minutes of downtime on a machine meant a loss of millions of rands to the organization; I learnt at that time to always think of “the worst thing that could happen” and solve that before it happens. That is what he meant by having “my finger on the pulse – before the pulse stops”, this is how I translated it. He, unfortunately for me, immigrated to Canada, but 10 years later, his advice is still applicable, both in my personal life and in my career.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It is important to first understand how much tech has evolved over the past few decades. Even with a basic understanding of this, one can have insight on what possibilities exist in tech, and what further developments can still exist. With such developments, more and more challenges are arising. For example, with such large amounts of data in the form of information, the challenge is – How do we store this data? How do we protect it? How do we transfer it? How do we replicate it? How do we make it easily accessible, without jeopardising it and the people who own it? These are the problems that exist now, and we have not yet found the best solution that will attend to these challenges. For a person who does not just want to get into the sector, but who also wants to succeed in it, they need to be thinking about the solutions to the problems that exist in the tech sector at this point and in the near future, and they should be equipping themselves to be ready to resolve them. I am certain that the tech sector needs plenty of problem solvers who are willing to dedicate themselves to doing what others are not willing to do – to think as though they are already in the future.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? My eagerness to make a difference in the world motivates me to get out of bed each morning. For me, each day as an opportunity to make a difference, whether in the organisation that I lead in, or in someone’s life. If I were not to get out of bed, it would mean that I have just deprived the world an opportunity to get the best of me. Seeing the results of what I do consistently each day, motivates me to keep getting out of bed every day.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be Pamela Mkhize who is able to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, while having and maintaining the humility of my inexperienced self, as I continue learning.

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-mkhize-57b79ab

Woman in Tech of the Week: Avashna Ramnarain

June 18, 2018 in Brand Manager, Marketing, Profiles
Avashna Ramnarain

Avashna Ramnarain

Woman in Tech of the Week: Avashna Ramnarain

Name: Avashna Ramnarain

Designation: Personal Systems Marketing Manager

Company: HP Africa

What do you do every day? I oversee the implementation of HP’s Marketing and Brand strategy – including developing the marketing strategy for new and existing HP laptops, PCs and Workstation products, management of specific campaigns, events, digital marketing, PR and Advertising.

How did you get into the tech space? My career development moved me to Johannesburg about 13 years ago where I began working as a Business Development Manager in an IT specialist private education solutions provider. With my tertiary studies focused on Media, Communications and Computer Management I then then joined HP in 2007 as a Personal Systems Marcoms Specialist.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Life is too short not to take risks.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Technology continues to evolve and keeping pace with current technology trends can be a challenge. You must start small and stay engaged. It’s important to continuously build your network, join the tech conversations on social media and ultimately be confident but humble.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? You can succeed at almost anything for which you have unlimited enthusiasm and passion for. Passion is what drives me every day.  I do what I love and love what I do. My blood is blue – HP Blue.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Wonder Woman

Twitter: @avashnar

LinkedInhttps://za.linkedin.com/in/avashna-ramnarain-28695710

Woman in Tech of the Week: Christina Burger

June 11, 2018 in Developer, Profiles, tech, Woman of the Week

Woman in Tech of the Week: Christina Burger

Name: Christina Burger

Designation: Senior Software Engineer

Company: Derivco

What do you do every day? I’m currently working in a team at Derivco that focuses on tools and frameworks that support our game development studios, so they can work as effectively as possible. I have a love-hate relationship with JavaScript and front-end web development. I also enjoy dabbling with other languages and experimenting with new technologies. The best part of my day is if I can either learn something new or teach someone else something new. We have a great working environment, where we work in cross functional teams with experts in different fields such as art, music and testing.

How did you get into the tech space? I started playing games with my brother when I was young and really enjoyed it. What interested me most was how the games were made, so I knew I wanted to become a game developer. My family encouraged me to pursue any career I wanted. During my studies, I often felt I would never become a “real developer”. However, as I started working my confidence grew, and I realised I have a passion for software engineering. Now I can’t imagine working in any other industry.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? You do you! There is no one else who can ever be you as well as you can, and you will never do well if you try to be someone else. Try to accept the little things that irritate you about yourself. Find something that you enjoy and do well, and then do that thing until you don’t enjoy it anymore. Remember to add a healthy dose of new things and new experiences. The person who cares most about your happiness and success is you. Don’t focus on what others are doing, and try to measure yourself against your own goals and dreams.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Stop trying to be perfect, and start being brave. Go out and apply for the job you really want, or ask someone to be your mentor, or sign up for a course. Remember that imposter syndrome is a real thing. When you assume everyone knows more than you do, you don’t realise that they probably assume the same about you.  Always be willing to learn and admit when you don’t know something. That’s the only way to get better at anything you do.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Coffee! And working with colleagues who’ve turned into friends.  But also coffee.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Is crazy cat lady not a good goal to aim for? My team has started calling me “Auntie Bob” in reference to “Uncle Bob”, so I suppose my professional idol is Robert C. Martin. But there are so many people I can learn from every day. I would be happy if I could continue working in software development and help build a diverse and inclusive community in technology.

Twitter: @pypmannetjies

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christienkroeze/