Exclusive: Female Gamer Rurusama on Her Hopes to Close the Gender Gap in the Gaming Ecosystem

How big of a role does misogyny play in the gaming world?
Published: April 23, 2024
Gaming is undergoing a revolution, fuelled by women.
Photo: Courtesy of Rurusama

Forget the tired trope of gaming being a boys’ club. Here in Southeast Asia, gaming is undergoing a revolution, fuelled by women. We’re talking over half of the gaming population, who are shattering stereotypes and paving the way for a more inclusive and vibrant scene.

According to the “Female Gamers in Asia’’ report by gaming research firm Niko Partners, the number of women gamers in Asia is growing by 11 per cent annually—almost double the rate of men. More notably, Southeast Asia has a gamer population that is 53 per cent female, with the Philippines leading the way with 63 per cent. And while 97 per cent of female gamers in Asia use their mobile devices to play, many also enjoy a good smackdown in multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) or role-play games (RPG) on their computers.

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As a rapidly growing demographic in gaming, women are redefining what it means to be a gamer. Even on the more competitive side of gaming, esports is witnessing a surge in female participation. “It was really great to see an all-girls gaming team from Singapore representing Asia-Pacific at the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Game Changers Championship in Brazil last year,” says Singaporean gamer Rurusama.

However, the path to inclusion is not always smooth. Despite their contributions, female gamers are still plagued by prejudice and online harassment, from condescending remarks (“go play with your dolls”) to more overt misogyny. This raises a critical question: Is the current state of gaming so rife with abuse that regulation is necessary?

To investigate this, Samsung Singapore conducted an Instagram survey and the overwhelming feedback confirms that women are still being marginalised in the gaming world. To raise awareness of the issue, the mobile phone giant recently launched #GameLikeHer—a campaign to promote gender equality and inclusion in the gaming area. It drew experience from local gamers like 25-year-old Rurusama (Ruru for short), who is actively turning the tide on online discrimination. “Gaming should be a safe space where individuals of all genders can engage, collaborate, and celebrate freely without prejudice or obstacles,” she says.

A content creator by day—@rurusama9 on TikTok and Instagram—Ruru is a well-known cosplayer who participates in annual events like Singapore Comic Con and Anime Festival Asia. At the next cosplay event, she’s planning to make an appearance as the elven mage from Japanese manga series Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End.

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When she’s not recording candid, ranting videos about her life, or producing images for cosplay, Ruru is an advocate for female empowerment, speaking out on women’s issues to an audience that includes mothers and daughters.

She is also an avid gamer with over 10 years of experience under her belt. One of her first games was MapleStory, introduced by her brother, who to this day, remains her faithful gaming buddy. Some of the more intense games she plays include Dota 2, League of Legends and Valorant. Although her preference is for solo games, Ruru does enjoy having friends over for party games like Mario Kart, Monopoly Online or Tetris. “If you look around you, at least one in five girls is on her mobile phone playing a game like League of Legends: Wild Rift or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang,” she shares.

For novices interested in gaming, Ruru recommends something easy like Dave The Diver, where you dive in the sea and just find things, or PowerWash, where, you guessed it, you power wash things—games that may seem “ridiculous but [are] very satisfying to play.” She insists: “Gaming is for everyone. It doesn’t always have to be about killing.”


Her first real encounter with blatant sexism was at 15 while playing a PVP (player vs player) game called Bloodborne. “This was one of the first few times I played the game so I wasn’t very good at all. And this guy who had his mic on made it very clear that he wasn’t happy about it,” she recalls. “As a competitive person, I questioned my skills as a gamer. Was that the problem or did he put me down because I was a girl?”

Over the years, she’s come to realise that the hostility often comes from men who are just terrible at the game. “Most guys who are good at the game cut women some slack, and several will come to the girls’ defence. They will say things like ‘we don’t claim this man’ or ‘he’s not our tribe’,” she describes. “I mean, what do men get out of picking on a woman? Don’t they want a girlfriend who they can play games with?”

While she understands that aggression is a natural reaction arising from intense gameplay, Ruru doesn’t believe in pandering to it—she simply tunes out the noise by muting her speakers. Her non-confrontational response belies her trash-talking social media persona, which begs the question: Even for someone as confident and assertive as her, is gaming with guys so painful that the only solution is to mute them?

“Ten years ago, I would probably go head-to-head with these creeps and clap back. But now that I’m older, I prioritise my mental health more. Work is hard enough as it is. I just want to unwind and enjoy a game or two,” she replies. “Haters are going to hate; it’s just part and parcel of online gaming. That should not be the reason for me to give up.”

While gaming trolls are here to stay, Ruru feels that the insults are starting to sound less creative. “‘Go back to the kitchen’—I’ve heard that at least 10 times in the past year. It’s such a low-level insult,” she mocks.

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Women are not just playing the game; they’re re-writing the rules. And the gaming industry stands to gain from a richer, more inclusive experience for everyone. “Women play just as well and the proof is in the pudding. We just want men to acknowledge that, rather than s**t on us with toxic masculinity. We don’t need any special treatment; we just want to be treated fairly. I do feel that it is becoming more inclusive but the gaming community can still do better as a whole,” she expresses.

The reality is that online harassment is everywhere. Every server has its own form of toxicity. Even in an all-girls lobby, there can be a different kind of drama. Ruru’s hope is to see more all-female lobbies on platforms like Discord or Twitch where women can freely talk to each other without judgement. Her advice to female gamers is to stick to their guns: “Don’t hate the haters. Just be better than them!”

A long-time collaborator with Samsung, Ruru appreciates the South Korean brand for creating campaigns that highlight inclusivity and fair treatment. “The way I see it, Samsung’s campaign is not so much about trying to reduce the number of haters, but rather, it’s about teaching women that you will be okay despite them,” she assures.

“There are bullies out there, but they are in the minority. It still is a safe space for women to play. Don’t let a couple of negative encounters stop you from enjoying the game.”

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