March is Woman’s History month, and on Saturday, Athena Alliance CLT broadcasted an All Woman’s Call of Duty event, hosted by MadamFunSize, made the front page of Twitch with three thousand people tuned in to the action.
As a woman and gamer, the emotions I felt were joy, hope, and a melancholy sadness that this work didn’t exist fifteen years ago. I recalled the days sitting in Halo 2 multiplayer lobbies with my mic off, under my partner’s id, just to avoid the potential of being harassed. Even now many women and girls are afraid to pick up that controller and pursue their dreams, and I’m here to tell you your time is now.
Yes, there is still so much work to do, and Emi Vener, the founder of Athena’s Alliance CLT, is accomplishing some of that work. She’s created a community where women can connect with like minded women and support each other in the gaming industry. The AACLT discord server hosts community nights, stream teams, and, as we saw on Saturday, all women Call of Duty skirmishes, where we can practice our skills, compete in spaces and be safe while doing it.
Emi Vener started building gaming communities locally, and lock down happened, those events became online events, as Emi saw a need to create that same energy online, however it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The first woman tournament she put together, received pushback from all sides, unsure how an all women gaming tournament would help the cause. She persisted, and filled her 24 slots creating a space for women to find connections and of course, play games.
She understands that accessibility to women is more than just about having women in the space. It’s about creating a safe space for women to be themselves, without the stress of a potentially toxic man looming in the wings, waiting to sling that one gendered insult he learned in junior high. It’s about freeing women from the potential of harassment, or patriarchal competition that breeds gatekeeping.
“Healthy Competition breeds innovation,” she said, as we were discussing the reasons all women’s spaces are growing, and necessary right now. This doesn’t mean women cannot compete with, or are not just as good as their gendered counterparts. She understands our needs are different, and her community showcases that.
Last December a community member mentioned she was having a hard time providing Christmas for her kids due to the strains of the pandemic. A member of the Goddess Team raised $350 and purchased Christmas presents for this member. Accessibility is so much more than just access. It’s understanding what women need to be successful, and being fully supported as both a gamer and a mom is a key component that sets Athena’s Alliance CLT apart from many other content creation teams.
When Athena’s Alliance CLT were looking for a Dungeon Master for their Dungeons and Dragons broadcasts, Emi went above and beyond just interviewing DMs. She involved the players every step of the way, making sure they were 100% comfortable and involved in picking their DM. If a community member needs to take some time off for personal reasons, they do. If they can’t keep up with the content schedule, she checks in on them and works within their needs.
Athena’s Alliance CLT is a space where you, as a gamer, can go to play video games with other women and create meaningful friendships! We are moms, but we are still us, and creating space to be us is the best form of self care. You can connect with them on Discord, hang out on Twitch, follow up on social, or join the Facebook group. They also have a group for allies, which you can check out here!