Sylvia Gathoni also known as Queen Arrow is an esports athlete based in Kenya whose game of specialization is Tekken. She is signed by UYU which focuses on identifying and cultivating emerging esports talent. She is also a Red Bull player. Her first esports event was in 2017 at the East African Gaming Convention. She competed in Mortal Kombat and came 4th place kicking off her competitive journey.
Her competitive journey came with its challenges. One of the major challenges she faced was learning Tekken and getting frustrated when she couldn’t improve at the pace that she wanted. She has however learned to be kind to herself by reminding herself that it is a work in progress.
Sylvia outlined another challenge as follows, “Choosing esports as a career somewhat alienated me from my folks and some of my friends who couldn’t fully wrap their heads around what I was doing. It’s only when I began to become more successful that they began to understand the vision.”
The Evolution of the Gaming Scene
When asked how the gaming scene in Kenya and Africa in general had changed since her debut in 2017, she said, “More and more people are starting to understand what it is that we do. More corporates are starting to invest in the field and more international esports competitions are coming up and offering more people opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Sylvia’s accomplishments are outstanding, in early 2022 she was listed as one of Forbes Africa’s Top 30 under 30 innovators. She also joined history books as one of the first e-sports athletes to make the Forbes global trailblazers’ list.
To stay grounded in the midst of all this success she said, “I rely on my friends and community to keep me grounded as I keep making strides in my professional journey. I also remember to be kind to myself as I am on this journey.”
Games from Africa
When asked if she saw herself playing African games professionally in the future she noted, “If it brings something new to the table and can go toe to toe with already established fighting games in the market, why not?”
She added, “Honestly speaking, I don’t have any favourite African games since a lot of the ones I have encountered tend to be reskins of popular games like Super Mario and Subway Surfers. I guess I need to make a more concerted effort into looking for African games.”
When asked the kind of African game she saw herself playing in the future she said it would have to be a fighting game. “I am optimistic about the future of esports locally. There is more interest, and more players and other stakeholders want to be part of the vision and want to be instrumental in carving out what the industry is going to look like. Once we iron out our teething issues and come together to build the industry, it’s going to be amazing.”
The role of Esport in the Growth of the Game Development Industry in Africa
To tackle this topic Sylvia had the following to say, “I think esports has a role to play in that game developers can come up with new games that can prospectively become competitive titles.
In order to make gaming more accessible to the masses and as a result build local consumer bases for game developers she alluded to the following as one of the solutions. “I think lowering the taxes on the equipment and peripherals would go a long way in making gaming more accessible. It would also help in deconstructing the misconceptions about gaming.”
One of Sylvia’s visions for the future is seeing a more equitable and diverse industry where esports is for everybody and not just a select group of people. A consistent tournament culture will also be useful in growing talents and skills.