The UAE's greatest girl gamers are being urged to take on the world at a huge international event coming to Dubai.
The finals of the Girl Gamer Esports Festival will land in the emirate from December 12 to 14, hot on the heels of button-bashing battles in Sydney, Singapore, Seoul and Sao Paulo in recent months.
Organisers are keen for a strong UAE representation at the world's largest female gaming tournament.
Registration for the contest at Meydan One, which will feature individuals and teams vying for glory in games of League of Legends and Counterstrike Go, is open until November 12.
Some of the region’s leading female players have already thrown their hat into the ring and hope to spur on others to sign up.
“For years it was seen as not normal for girls to be interested in gaming,” said Madiha Naz, 23, from Pakistan, who was among the first to register.
“I have been interested in gaming since I was 10 and would go to gaming cafes in Dubai and be the only girl there.
“In recent years though I have seen an increase in the number of girls taking part.”
December’s tournament is being touted as an opportunity for females in the region to show they have what it takes to become full-time professional gamers.
The gaming industry is anything but child's play, with the stakes high for the top performers.
Professional players' regular monthly salary ranges from Dh3,500 to Dh18,300. However, that number is dwarfed by the earnings of elite players.
Guinness World Records lists Canadian Sasha Hoyston, who has the username Scarlett, as the highest earning female gamer of all time – with an impressive career haul of just under Dh1 million.
By contrast, the highest earning male player of all time, Johan Sundstein has made more than Dh25 million from what many will deem a hobby.
A pair of gamers crowned the first Fortnite world champions, at an event held in a tennis stadium in New York in July, each walked away with a Dh5.5 million jackpot, highlighting the growing popularity of the industry.
There was often a perception that PC and video games were not for girls, representing something of a boys’ club, despite the fact recent studies suggest game play is split fairly evenly between the sexes.
“A lot of the time I wouldn’t be picked for groups for the simple reason I was female,” Ms Naz said.
“I have been in tournaments with 50 guys were I have been the only girl.
“The truth is girls are just as good at video games as guys and now we have the opportunity to show it.”
Ms Naz, who goes by the online moniker of MadihaXOXO, quit her day job in PR to concentrate on getting ready for December’s tournament.
“I am in the top 2 per cent in the region so I am confident of being selected,” she said, adding that she streams on her PC eight hours a day, five days a week.
“This is a great opportunity for females to show we can be just as competitive as our male counterparts.
“It would also be an honour to represent the country I grew up in and love so much.”
Psychiatrist Selena Agha, 26, from Syria was also quick to sign up for the eagerly anticipated event.
“This is my dream because I have been searching for a long time to find gamer girls to socialise with,” she said.
“They are very hard to find in this region.”
Ms Agha said the tournament represented an opportunity to help raise awareness of female gamers who often found themselves the victim of online harassment and bullying, simply because of their gender.
A study by the University of New South Wales suggested that online bullying of female gamers was more common among males who were “performing poorly and afraid of losing status”.
December’s tournament also aims to convince sceptical parents that gaming offers a lucrative and realistic career path for their sons and daughters, according to Paul Roy, chief executive of sponsors Galaxy Racers Esports.
“Parents need to realise it is a real career,” he said.
“Even if they don’t become gaming athletes they could still get jobs as programmers or designers by being in the industry.”
Competitors, who must be aged 16 or over, can register at https://www.girlgamer.gg/dubai/gcclol/