Short biography: Katherine “Kat” Gunn was born in Lancaster, Calif., to a gaming family in which competitions were created in order to get out of having to do chores.1 Gunn is a professional video gamer, and was the winner of season 2 of the SyFy channel’s WCG Ultimate Gamer reality show. She’s also the founder of Team AVRC, an RC car racing club out of Antelope Valley, Calif.2
What they do: As a professional video gamer, Gunn competes in tournaments around the world playing video games to earn both fame and fortune.
Why they matter: Gunn’s more than a pretty face in the gaming world—she’s also proven (by her various championship titles and her winning of the title WCG Ultimate Gamer) that girls can play just as well as boys.
Although she does deal with negativity, she tries not to let it affect her love of the game. According to a 2010 Time magazine article “Video Games: When Girl Gamers Go Pro”: “The life of a female professional video gamer isn't easy; in many ways video games are still a guy's world, if a virtual one. Gunn says that on some days, as soon as she speaks up online through her headset, she gets a barrage of insults from male players that only stop when she starts beating them in the game. Women handle the unwanted attention in different ways. Some professional female gamers get too defensive, Gunn says, and end up acting like unmannered stereotypical rude jocks. When guys would diss her online, ‘my parents had to remind me not to be so aggressive and crude,’ Gunn says.” Great advice for any woman looking to make a name for herself in a stereotypically male field.
You might find it interesting that gaming isn’t as male-dominated as you might think—in 2010, more than 40 percent of video game and online game players were women, and 20 percent of professional gamers were as well. Women gamers are still struggling with the glass ceiling, however; top women gamers earn around $60,000 per year while top male gamers can earn $100,000 (partly due to sponsorship issues).3 Having a prominent, well-spoken gamer like Gunn working for the cause can certainly do no harm.
Gunn’s other achievements include:
- In 2007, she became the national Dead or Alive 4 champion.
- She was one of the top 12 Halo players in the U.S. in 2010.3
How they got where they are: Gunn began homeschooling at age 16 so that she could focus on playing different games for up to 30 hours a week. Her training and dedication paid off; in 2007, she was recruited to join Carolina Core, a team in a now-defunct league.3 Her experience with that team led her to audition for WCG Ultimate Gamer.
Her parents—both of whom Gunn describes as being gamers—were also great role models, and showed Gunn from an early age that anyone who wants to play, should.3
References: 1, 2, 3