"I get to be the most uncensored version of myself.”
In the exhilarating realm of gaming, India’s top female gamers are not just participating; they are dominating the virtual battlegrounds with skill, precision and an unyielding passion for gaming.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, these formidable women are breaking stereotypes and rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a gamer in India.
In this exploration of prowess and determination, we delve into the lives and achievements of India’s leading female gamers.
Not only are they aiming high but they are soaring to new heights in the captivating world of gaming.
Join us as we uncover the stories of these remarkable individuals who are not only challenging the status quo but also reshaping the YouTube and esports space.
Manasvi Dalvi was first introduced to gaming by her father and she never looked back.
She says: “He came home one night with a console, and I was hooked!”
Manasvi revealed that gaming acts as a form of escapism for her where she gets to meet new people from different backgrounds.
She added: “Most importantly, I get to be the most uncensored version of myself.”
As well as being a full-time lawyer, Manasvi is a regular streamer which started after receiving positive responses from her viewers.
“After a few streams in the start, I received overwhelmingly positive responses from the community. That motivated me to take this seriously.”
Before its ban, Manasvi said PUBG is the most intriguing battle royale game but she has expanded her YouTube channel into playing horror games.
“I’m exploring the horror genre as I find it very exciting.”
Better known as Xyaa, Shagufta Iqbal has more than 284,000 subscribers despite having a full-time job.
She revealed that she has been gaming since she was a child. The 28-year-old said:
“I’ve been gaming since I was a kid. I remember playing on my console which had those ‘999 in 1’ cartridges.
“Over time, I graduated to my dad’s PC, playing games such as Prince of Persia, Claw, Age of Empires, Quake, to name a few.”
Her initial game of choice was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive but it eventually became PUBG.
As well as YouTube, Shagufta regularly streams on Twitch but it was not always easy as she was subjected to sexist trolling.
“I started streaming in January 2018. I had done a few random streaming sessions on YouTube earlier, but I didn’t really enjoy that.
“It was full of trolls back then and I decided to stop streaming.”
“When I started missing streaming, I made up my mind and gave it another shot in January with Twitch. Best decision ever.”
Despite the negativity, Shagufta overcame it and has become one of India’s most notable female gamers.
Under her YouTube channel Payal Gaming, this female gamer boasts over 3.35 million subscribers.
Payal began streaming PUBG Mobile in 2020 before expanding her gameplay videos to feature titles such as Grand Theft Auto V.
She always had a keen interest in gaming but turned it into a career during the Covid-19 pandemic, teaching herself how to be better.
Payal used to be a content creator for TSM Entity. She now represents S8UL.
Like other female gamers, Payal has faced criticism, including being told her large number of followers is down to her looks.
But constant support from her parents has allowed Payal to ignore the hate and continue her YouTube career.
Although her gaming videos are successful, it is Payal’s reaction videos that are the most popular.
Pooja Khatri is one of the most well-known female gamers in India.
A daily streamer, it is no surprise that Pooja has more than 653,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Her videos rake in tens of thousands of views.
While PUBG has been her main focus, Pooja also streams GTA V gameplay from time to time.
While she has a presence in the gaming world, Pooja is also known in the showbiz space as she is also an actress.
Pooja has worked on some of India’s most recognisable TV shows. She has featured in the likes of crime drama CID and Ichhapyaari Naagin.
Her work on TV only increases Pooja’s popularity as a gamer and it is no wonder that many flock to see her videos.
Better known as MizoPlays, Mahek is a prominent gaming streamer.
She began her streaming journey on the PlayStation 4. Mahek then switched to PC before experimenting with mobile gaming.
Using her Oculus headset, Mahek also streams virtual reality games, which have been the reason for some of her most popular videos.
Among the 500+ games she has played, some of her most popular games include Battlegrounds Mobile India and Call of Duty: Warzone.
On YouTube, Mahek has 178,000 subscribers.
But she represents GodLike Esports, having joined the team in May 2023.
GodLike Esports founder Chetan ‘Kronten’ Chandgude revealed that Mahek – who is a close friend of Shakshi Shetty – joined the team after witnessing the positive environment.
He said: “When Shakshi joined Godlike, and she saw how things work here and how the environment was, then Mizo joined us.
“All the credits for this signing to her.”
Popularly known as Sharkshe, Shakshi Shetty is making waves in the gaming and digital space.
Shakshi began her YouTube career in 2018, posting lifestyle videos and eating challenges.
She expanded her channel to include gaming and vlogs.
Like Mahek Syed, Shakshi also represents GodLike Esports.
With over 329,000 subscribers on YouTube, Shakshi continues to frequently upload a variety of content.
But her talents extend beyond content creation because in 2022, she won the MPL Poker Showdown. It was a live-streamed event, featuring 30 celebrities and six poker players.
After six rounds and two semi-finals, Shakshi defeated fellow YouTuber Karunesh Talwar to take home Rs. 10 Lakh (£9,500).
Saloni Pawar frequently live streams first-person shooters on YouTube.
One of her most popular titles is Valorant.
She is also a professional Counter Strike Global Offensive player and won the Central Asia qualifiers for Legion in 2020.
Better known as Meow16K, Saloni is making her mark in the space and highlighted the challenges.
She said: “My brother refused to believe it, and said, ‘Girls don’t play these games. It is not possible that you’ve scored well’.
“That was when I decided to prove him and everyone wrong.”
What to know about each gamer
- Manasvi Dalvi regularly live streams in addition to being a full-time lawyer
- Before gaming, Shagufta Iqbal wanted to be a fashion designer
- Payal Dhare used the Covid-19 pandemic to turn her gaming passion into a career
- Pooja Khatri is also an actress, starring in the likes of CID
- Mahek Syed won 2023 Stylish Gamer of the Year (Female) at the India Gaming Awards
- Shakshi Shetty won the inaugural MPL Poker Showdown
- Saloni Pawar was the first female Counter-Strike: Global Offensive streamer and player from India to stream it on YouTube
She began streaming her content in a bid to change this perception and although this attracted internet trolls, Saloni remains unaffected.
“Initially, the incessant trolling would affect me. Now, nothing and no one bothers me.
“I know what I’m doing and I don’t care how people react to it.”
Within India’s gaming landscape, the stories of these seven extraordinary female gamers stand as a testament to the resilience, skill and passion that fuel their ascent in the virtual realms.
These women have not only shattered stereotypes but have also become trailblazers, inspiring a new generation of gamers to pursue their dreams fearlessly.
In a world where the gaming industry is evolving rapidly, these remarkable individuals serve as beacons of empowerment, proving that gender is no barrier to success in the gaming space.
With each click, strategy, and victory, they are not just gaming; they are rewriting the narrative and leaving an indelible mark on the ever-expanding canvas of gaming and esports in India.
As the pixels settle and the scores are tallied, one thing is certain – the game is changing, and these top female gamers are at the forefront, aiming high and paving the way for a future where anyone, regardless of gender, can claim their spot among the gaming elite.