UK developer SimBin Studios has announced the first women-only esports car racing competition - Women and Wheels.

The time-limited competition, which launches on Steam this autumn, will donate a percentage of its revenue to female-focused charities and "aims to provide a supportive, female-friendly environment that encourages more women to play esports while drawing attention to the often hidden role of women in racing and automotive history".

Despite being able to compete on an equal playing field with men, only five per cent of esports players are women. This is often chalked down to the major earning gaps between men and women as well as the online bullying women in games often endure.

SimBin Studio head Allan Speed said Women and Wheels aims to encourage women to participate in esports and improve their skills in a supportive environment. The overall goal is for these initiatives to eventually lead to equal participation and competition with men.

"Around seven per cent of our race competitors are female. Unbelievably, that's probably over average," said Speed. "We want to see more women enjoying the thrills and spills of the virtual track, and esports in general."

car

Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO of Women in Games, said it was frustrating to think the gaming community can be so harsh and misogynistic that a women's-only competition was needed to encourage females to set foot in male-dominated territory.

"It's a shame we need women-only teams, leagues and competitions in esports," she said. "But until the sector fully matures, becomes more gender balanced and takes steps to eradicate online bullying and misogyny, they represent a great way to get more women involved by building communities, confidence and skills."

Prizes for competition winners include a €3000 Racing Simulator Chair, two Fanatec Racing Wheel and Pedal Sets, a life coaching programme from Epiphany Junkie and more.

Simbin UK is working on GTR 3, which is due out on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One next year.

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Vic Hood

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Vic is a news reporter for Eurogamer. She was an intern but wouldn't leave, so we were forced to keep her like a stray cat. Often found writing news, trying to convince others to appreciate The Sims or spamming PUBG articles.

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