International Women's Day 2023- Women Breaking Stereotypes In Gaming Ecosystem with Payal Gaming, Kaash Plays & Krutika Plays

This is an India Today Gaming Exclusive with Payal Dhare a.k.a. Payal Gaming, Krutika Ojha a.k.a. Krutika Plays and Kaashvi Hiranandani a.k.a. Kaash Plays, on the occasion of International Women's Day 2023.

It is true that female gamers are on the rise across the world, including India. According to a recent study, 46% gamers from India are women, while 56% of this population consider gaming as a career option. But these numbers somehow don’t change societal perception of seeing a woman shoot down a few bots in an FPS or action-adventure. Video games are still considered a man’s play, and gaming skills of women are looked down upon as the general norm. 

Having said that, if you’re a woman and a gaming enthusiast, or even an aspiring one, here’s some inspiration to help you keep going. On the eve of International Women’s Day, India Today Gaming spoke to Payal Dhare a.k.a. Payal Gaming, Krutika Ojha a.k.a. Krutika Plays and Kaashvi Hiranandani a.k.a. Kaash Plays. These are gamers that the young crowd from India points to when talking about girls making it big with gaming. We learned about their story behind the scenes, and their perspective regarding the state of affairs within the gaming community of India.The heartfelt conversations where these young female celebs showed us the world through their eyes, were highly enlightening. 


Popular Games

Girls in Gaming- How did that start?

Krutika’s interest in video games developed as a child with Counter-Strike 1.6 and WWE matches with her brother. She however started her journey as a PUBG Mobile player while still pursuing her graduation degree & went on to become the only female contestant in PMIS 2020. It wasn’t until then that she considered becoming a content creator. The encouragement that she received from her friends, especially the men of her circle, to showcase her gaming skills to the world, has brought us the Krutika Plays that we know today. 

Breaking stereotypes right from childhood- Payal Dhare a.k.a. PayalGaming

Coming from the small city of Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, Payal Dhare’s life as a gamer itself started with her breaking stereotypes back in her childhood. Payal was introduced to video games by her cousin brothers. “I would watch them play and coax them to include me in their turns at the games. They would tell me things like ‘girls don’t play games, it doesn’t look good, what would people say, your father will scold me for teaching you how to play video games", said Payal. 


Only after she got into studies, educated herself and learned that she too can get into avenues of her choice, did she pursue her interest in video games once again. Her father however was a major support in her life, Payal being his only child and daughter. Payal’s mother on the other hand wasn’t as much, driven by and succumbing to the same societal conditions that Payal grew up in, concerned for her daughter’s well being. But Payal eventually forced her to change her mind, making her a proud mother right now, as she shone through in her career. 

Payal started her career as a hardcore content creator. “Back when I started, I had my eyes on content creation. My first video on YouTube was a great opening for me, but it was not a gameplay video. I was always more focused on connecting with my audience, but through gaming, and not as a lifestyle influencer. So my motive was to have fun playing games, and to include more people in the process. It is not always necessary to be competitive while playing video games.” 

There’s more to gaming than being a professional esports athlete- Kaash Plays

Speaking about developing interest in video games for fun, Kaash Plays has a similar story. She was taught the basics of gaming by her own brother as a child, with whom she played multiple video games. It was during the COVID-19 lockdown that COD Mobile drew her attention, and that’s where her career as a streamer “accidentally” kick-started from."One of the world’s best players called me a hacker on his livestream. Fortunately for me I had recorded my perspective while I was playing against him. So I uploaded that on YouTube. At that point, 1 lakh views on it meant that it had gone viral, that too on a brand new channel."

Kaash Plays is a big fan of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

A lot of you might have a lot of opinions about Kaashvi’s BGMI or PUBG gameplay skills. Here’s her side of the story. “I started playing BGMI very late. Everyone I was playing with already had 3 years of experience. So people saw my journey right from the beginning, when I had just started playing the game. And I was playing with professionals. So obviously it was very difficult for me, but that reputation of me being not such a good player at that game stuck. What people didn’t understand is that I had just downloaded the game. I hadn’t even played PUBG Mobile, and I started directly with BGMI, that too against professionals. However, back then, I was just trying to have fun, trying my hand at a new game.” Regardless, with time, as her gameplay progressed, she got noticed by S8ul and she quit her job in Singapore to become a full time gaming creator.

“It’s not like I approached Scout. It was he who approached me to collaborate with him, while I was playing Call of Duty. Name one gamer who would say no to that.”- Kaash Plays

When it comes to Kaashvi and her stardom, Scout is often credited for her popularity in the comment section of her videos. Here’s what she has to say to them, “It’s not like I approached Scout. It was he who approached me to collaborate with him, while I was playing Call of Duty. Name one gamer who would say no to that. As for me, having more followers has never been my priority, I just want to enjoy what I am doing.” 

“But yes, collaborations did happen, and with Scout, the majority of his audience are PUBG-BGMI players. So that’s what people look for in terms of talent. They feel like the better PUBG player you are, the more talent you have. No matter how many PC story-mode games I may play and play well, these questions are always gonna be raised about my talent. And I’m not trying to be an esports player. I am just trying to play games and enjoy them with my audience.There’s more to gaming than being a professional esports athlete.”

What is it like to be a girl gaming on YouTube?

As Kaashvi mentioned the hate she received online, it made me wonder if some of it was solely because she is a woman trying to get into a space that’s dominated by men. Kaashvi has a fun anecdote to add to this. “Being a female in gaming, there is indeed a prejudice that she must be a bad player. And often after a game where I ended up doing well, when I switch on my camera, people are pleasantly surprised that I am a girl. And then again, often when I’m not playing well, people take it for granted that it is because I am a girl. Having said that, there are a lot of opportunities that I have got because I am a girl, which is something I cannot deny.” 

Payal had something very interesting to add on these lines. “I have had my fair share of sexism and discrimination on my streams and videos.This is a long standing mindset within the community that a female gamer is less skilled than her male counterparts.People still continue to think that I am popular because of my face cam, and because I am a girl.I did not even use face cams initially when my videos started getting viral. I would only record my game screens and upload them with my voiceover. Even if my gender was the main contributing factor to my success, there are a lot of other girls who stream games, and yet their share of the recognition isn’t the same. So our success cannot be credited to only our gender.”

Gaming V/S Content Creation

One of my biggest take backs from my short while with these girls is how they walked me through the difference between gaming, and content creation. Krutika explained where they come from when they dress up in front of the camera, while streaming on social media. “Presenting yourself is not about wearing short clothes or revealing yourself a lot. It is about how you talk, and you maintain a relationship with your audience.” 

Krutika cosplaying as Raze from Valorant, along with Naman "Mortal" Mathur

Kaashvi also brings in the example of Payal Gaming and says, “if you watch her streams from the start till the end, it is all about the audience interaction, it’s all about the bond that you create with the audience more than her skills or gameplay. YouTube is all about entertainment and it is not like entertaining the audience is not a talent. That’s an art in itself. Then there are female gamers who are professionals too. Both are available on the internet- if you want to watch professional gameplay, then there’s that as well. You might call one over the other more sensible but at the end of the day, both of them exist and both have their own audiences.”

Explaining the difference between being entertaining and being a professional competitive gamer, Kaashvi mentions how her skill are often compared to those of ScoutOP. “Scout has been playing PC games since he was 10 years old and he has always been a die-hard competitive gamer. I on the other hand played games more casually, and for my own relaxation and enjoyment. There’s no way that I can ever bridge that gap between us when it comes to our skill sets.But personally, I always enjoy playing with people who are better at the game than I am, even if it makes me not look so good in front of them, because there’s always such a scope to learn from there.”  

Speaking about collaborations, Krutika explains that she appears with 8bitMamba because the creators are aware how much the audience loves watching them in videos together. “Mamba has been a great push, but I ultimately did everything by myself”. 

The growth curve forward

Payal, Kaashvi and Krutika gave us quite a bit of insight into the life of a female creator who makes content on video games. But what about more such aspiring gamers amongst us who also find this genre of entertainment fascinating, but aren’t really motivated enough to explore it? What can be done to help grow the gaming community, and with more girls? Let’s see what advice these celebrity gamers have for the women and others from the gaming community.   

Payal expounds on the importance of organizing more girls-only tournaments, competitions and “split-online games” with a good prize pool. “This will encourage more women to participate in games while having goals to genuinely look forward to. Prize pools also become a good source of income, and therefore makes gaming a good career avenue. You don’t even need to step out of your homes very often.”, explains Payal.

Krutika says that “Girls don’t have enough confidence to come in front of the camera with video games. The stereotypical mindset that ‘games are for boys’ has a role to play here. Alongside education, even in schools, it needs to be inculcated right from the formative years of children, that video games are for everyone. There shouldn’t be this rampant discrimination and differentiation between genders when it comes to gaming, and schools can contribute in many ways here.”

“Don’t choose gaming as your primary profession"- Krutika Plays 

Krutika's advice is to pursue gaming as a passion, alongside your education. "Complete your studies first. In case your passion converts into your profession, that’s well and good. But if it doesn’t work out, in that case you will always have other avenues to fall back on. As for my message to the parents, you can always allow one chance for your children to make a career out of gaming. If it works out, then why not? It is a great source of recognition, fame, and money.”, she says. 

Kaashvi on the other hand observes, “I see this mentality changing where a girl is expected to play with a doll house over a game on a console. Albeit slowly, but the world is changing where this generalization specific to gender is being done away with- we do see girls getting into hardcore sports these days as well.”

Payal added that “girls don’t have a role model to look up to in the gaming space. I want to be that role model for everyone, but I have only been here for 3 years now. Maybe if someone more experienced and respected existed, then things might have been different today. But at the same time, the scenario is changing, and I do see the community of female creators in gaming growing these days.” 

Payal also spoke about the importance of men encouraging their female counterparts to get into gaming. She says that she has received a lot of support from her male friends in her career, be  it for gaming or streaming content on social media. So has Krutika and Kaashvi. Kaashvi claims that her brother has been a very strong influence in her journey. 

The bottomline remains that though the female gaming community may still have a lot of grounds to cover, especially in India, all we need is a little push. And we do have people to look up to, so close to home, like Kaash Plays, Payal Gaming and Krutika Plays who’ve stood through it all, tall and proud. They’ve come a long way, and so can a lot of others, with grit and perseverance, and a little bit of grind. Here’s hoping that bringing forward these chapters from the lives of these girls goes on to be the reason for you not giving up on your journey as a gamer.