Lipstick Bullets: Labour and Gender in Professional Gamer Self-Branding


  • Andrew Zolides University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA



branding, e-sports, video games, labour, professional gaming, social media, gender, persona


With the growing professionalisation of electronic sports (or e-sports), the individuals who compete are, like their more “traditional” sport counterparts, becoming celebrities. Actual competition is a fraction of the labour a professional gamer undertakes to earn a living and generate a self-brand—there are also complex arrangements involving sponsorships, team-memberships, and digital reputation management. Indeed, taking part in e-sports can be understood as another mode of celebrity-creation within a particular fan community. A key vector to the persona formation of professional gamers is gender. Female professional gamers must navigate additional hurdles in the creation and management of their brand and attempts to commoditise their personas. Female gamers carefully negotiate and perform their gender while maintaining their status as a competitor and influencer in gaming’s highly masculinised culture. This performativity places these young women in a precarious position not just in terms of economic stability, but also in terms of their gendered identity. This paper compares the online personas of professional gamers Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag and Kelly “MrsViolence” Kelley, analysing their social media presences and mainstream media appearances. Reframing the labour of professional gamers as one of building a commodifiable work persona can help us better understand the economically precarious position in which professional gamers, particularly young women, find themselves.


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Author Biography

  • Andrew Zolides, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

    Andrew Zolides is a PhD Candidate in Media & Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He researches the labour and industry of online self-representation by comparing celebrities, companies, and activist groups.


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How to Cite

Lipstick Bullets: Labour and Gender in Professional Gamer Self-Branding. (2015). Persona Studies, 1(2), 42-53.