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Indian Valorant Caster Explains the Difficulties and Discrimination He Faced in the Scene

By Naman Alok | Dec 22, 2022 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

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Kaavya “Zahk” Karthikeyan, a skilled Indian Valorant caster, shared her unfavourable experiences casting as a woman in India in a lengthy farewell message that she sent in a tweet. She spoke with Indian tournament organisers (TOs) about these difficulties and others, such as problems processing payments, the female pay gap, and sexism. The choice by Zahk to discontinue working in India was significantly influenced by these problems, she added. Indian Valorant Caster Explains the Difficulties and Discrimination He Faced in the Scene

In the Indian Valorant esports scene, Zahk speaks out against the women’s pay disparity, misogyny, and other issues.

Zahk claims that TOs drastically underpay newscasters, hence exploiting them. When I obtained my first job, I was required to cast six games a day, nine games on Sunday, and nearly every day. I was given a monthly payment of $145 for this of about 12k INR. People have told me that I should be grateful for what I have because they didn’t start out making anything, but it doesn’t make it right. Someone is still working for you at the end of the day, and publicity doesn’t pay the rent, she added.

According to Zahk, TOs also frequently fail to pay their casters on time, and casters frequently have to contact TOs in order to settle their debts. They don’t return calls, don’t return messages, and only pay what they owe after several months. I still haven’t received payment for an event I performed in August for a certain TO, and the cost was only $5,000. I’ve contacted the TO several times, and it’s only after asking twice that I receive a response stating that it hasn’t even been internally processed,” she continued. The fact that their payment did not arrive for months caused suffering for a few of my caster friends.

Then Zahk discussed the sexism and discrimination she ran into while learning to become a caster. “As a woman, my dress choices receive a lot more feedback and scrutiny than those of other people. I recently heard that the dress code for the gig was formal. I was dressed in a t-shirt below a collared shirt. My male co-caster was dressed casually in only a t-shirt with no collar. I was instructed to dress more formally and with buttons on the neck. There were no remarks or other such feedback from my co-caster. She admitted that when she brought this up, she was instructed to “shut up.”

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The unequal pay scale and gender pay gap that Zahk had to deal with were other topics of discussion. “After some experience with the Valorous Champions Tour: Game Changers Asia-Pacific, I was hired for an event at $500 per map and informed that that was the budget for the event and that was all they could accomplish. Since it was a women’s event, which typically has lower budgets here, I was okay working with the TO even if it was less than a quarter of what I typically get abroad. I learned that my co-caster was receiving twice that amount.

She continued, “The second time I worked with the same TO, my co-caster was making 1.2k, while I was making 600.” She claimed that she had constantly received lowball offers from TOs and had only ever been hired for appallingly low wages. “My male co-casters have regularly received at least two to three times as much as I have. People who read the kill feed and have less casting experience with Valorant receive more because they are close friends with the TOs. She claimed that this was a major factor in her decision to leave India and settle overseas.

Zahk discusses cronyism in the sector.

Even if they don’t know much about the game or have bad streaming quality and latency, Zahk claimed that many tournament organisers in India use their friends as announcers. Without the desire to do better and without criticism, how can we expect to improve? Although I don’t think someone should be perfect, at least discuss it. Despite my expertise and experience, I have been blacklisted because I have been outspoken about my experiences at some events. Not to mention a huge amount of internet hatred and vitriol,” she continued.

She continued by saying that a TO had barred her from seeing its Instagram account as a result of her criticism of an event’s subpar production. “The TO refused to unblock me despite (the TO) hiring me again (again at lowball prices).”

“I can tell the difference now that I’ve worked for a year and a half in India and six months in NA/SEA. I was constantly under a lot of stress trying to find and accomplish a job here before I had prospects abroad. It hurts to deal with the ongoing undercutting and partiality. Perhaps India need not get to the level of these people, but at least some semblance of decency is required,” added Zahk.

Zahk also pleaded with the TOs to treat all talent equally when it comes to dress and to pay casters fairly and on time. He also urged them to acknowledge event mistakes rather than despise those who genuinely point them out. Zahk will go to Europe in search of better employment chances after working as a Valorant caster in India for more than a year.

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