Brand & BusinessPress Release

Leveling the playing field with the Mastercard Gamer Academy 

NEW YORK, USA — In its commitment to bring people closer to their passions, Mastercard has published a blog post by Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar detailing the story behind the Mastercard Gamer Academy. This is a first-of-its-kind program open to all gamers aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the gaming world.

Today, a remarkable 3 billion+ people consider themselves gamers. That’s more than a third of all people on earth. That number jumps considerably for Generation Z, with nine of 10 calling themselves gamers. And importantly, nearly half of the gaming population are women, with some leading industry experts suggesting 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 less than 1% of professional gamers.  


The gaming industry faces a staggering imbalance of opportunity.  

As we think about the next generation of gaming – and gamers – this gap needs to be addressed. Allowing more people to equitably pursue their passion for gaming as a career is not only good for those individuals, but it 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 today we’re announcing the first-ever Mastercard Gamer Academy.  

The Mastercard Gamer Academy is designed to provide an incredible career development experience to gamers around the world. Our focus is on creating a supportive, inclusive environment for all to pursue their passions – and thrive. Aspiring gamers from around the world are invited to apply to be part of the curriculum-based program, which will kick off in 2024. Drawing on our 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. At Mastercard, we’ve seen first-hand the unique responsibility – and opportunity – that brands have to champion inclusivity and to invest wisely, helping make these industries an accessible and welcoming space for all. I firmly believe that when you combine passion with purpose, the profits will follow.  

For the Gamer Academy, we’ve identified and partnered with organizations that share these values. Riot Games, our inaugural gaming partner since we 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

“Esports have grown into a full-fledged sports entertainment experience enjoyed by millions around the world, and as the industry continues to grow, it should evolve to be more representative of the audiences it serves,” says Naz Aletaha, Global Head of League of Legends Esports at Riot Games. “The Mastercard Gamer Academy will shine a light on the myriad of career opportunities in esports, helping build a diverse pipeline of talent who will eventually shape the future of our sport.” 

The Academy will also be powered by the premier global esports ​organization​​​ G2 Esportswhich 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 across Valorant and League of Legends.  

“At G2 Esports, we’re determined to be a driving force for change, for better inclusion and representation across esports and gaming. It’s why we’re the leading organization for women’s teams, fielding four all-women rosters across major esports leagues,” said Sabrina Ratih, COO of G2 Esports. “Our goal is to inspire and motivate the next generation of gamers through creating role models and showcasing the opportunities esports and gaming has to offer. We’re incredibly proud to launch the Mastercard Gamer Academy and be a catalyst for change.” 

We have a long and growing track record in gaming, forging partnerships, and developing products that bring value to consumers around the world. And we’ve seen how exciting the world of esports can be. Earlier this year, we even extended our esports sponsorship to include Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) – the fastest growing esport in the world – and VCT Game Changers.  

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