In a world where pixels and controllers reign supreme, Seraphina, or Dike Ifunanya Seraphina, as she's officially known, stepped into the gaming arena with a determination that shook stereotypes and made waves. Her journey from a curious gamer to the first female Tribe Campus Leader is nothing short of inspiring.
In this exclusive interview with Oluwadamilola Koya, we dive into her story, challenges, and triumphs.
Hi, Ifunanya. it's great to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and share your journey on how you became interested in gaming and esports?
Ifunanya: Hey there! My name is Dike Ifunanya Seraphina, but most people call me Seraphina or Serah for short. I guess I should give a bit of a backstory for that. I didn't want to be just another Ifunanya in the crowd. I mean, Anambra is packed with Ifunanyas! So, to avoid answering calls that weren't mine, I embraced my second name, Seraphina.
As for gaming, I got into it early on when I was left to my own devices as an only child. I'd play games on whatever gadgets I had. Then, my cousins from abroad, who were already gaming enthusiasts, came into the picture and got me hooked. That's how my gaming adventure began.
I've always been a bit of a gaming chameleon, though. I go through phases – one day, I'm all about adventure games; the next, I'm into sims, and then it's games like CoD or Garena Free Fire. But strangely, PUBG has never been my cup of tea.
That's an interesting journey, Seraphina. So, what motivated you to become a Tribe Campus Leader and build a gaming community within your university?
Ifunanya: Well, I was raised to be tech-savvy, thanks to my mom running a cyber cafe. When my university went on strike, I decided to dive into programming and wanted work experience. I stumbled upon Tribe's job listing through the I4G network (Ingressive for Good), and to my surprise, I was a perfect fit.
They were looking for someone very much into the public space and event organization, which were right up my alley. My friends were skeptical because of my gender, but I felt that being a female might actually work to my advantage in a male-dominated gaming community. Turns out; it did!
I was also already involved in building a tech community at my school, and Tribe's goals aligned with what I was passionate about. So, I thought, why not have both platforms coexist?
It was like a match made in gaming heaven.
Congratulations on being the first female Tribe Campus Leader! Can you share some highlights and achievements from your time in this role?
Ifunanya: Thanks! You know, I actually didn't realize I was the first female Tribe Campus Leader until near the end of my tenure. That was quite a revelation. I owe much of my positive experience to my awesome coordinators, Saanu and Godwin. They were super understanding and responsive. When the school strike ended, and we had to juggle everything, they had our backs. These guys were lifelines.
During my tenure, one of the most challenging parts was convincing people I was the campus leader. Many at Unizik didn't even know what Tribe was or assumed it was all about board games or Candy Crush (stereotyping came into play here. Those were the games they associated with a female gamer). But, I understood their curiosity, and I worked hard to change their perceptions.
And you know what? I even went the extra mile to encourage female participation, offering incentives just to get more girls involved. It was a challenge, but it was worth it.
That sounds like quite the journey, Seraphina. Can you share any challenges you faced while leading the Tribe community on your campus and how you overcame them?
Ifunanya: Absolutely; one of the main challenges was convincing some folks that a female could be a capable leader in the gaming community. I had to patiently explain my role and educate them about Tribe and the games we were passionate about. Over time, I noticed a shift in their perceptions, which was rewarding.
The gender gap in gaming was another hurdle. Getting more female gamers involved was a constant effort. I tried different incentives and strategies, and while the turnout could be better, I'm proud of the progress we made.
You've certainly made an impact on inclusivity and diversity. As the first female Tribe Campus Leader, how have you paved the way for future leaders, especially women, in the gaming and esports space?
Ifunanya: I hope I've shown that gender doesn't define leadership in gaming. By breaking down stereotypes and leading by example, I've paved the way for other women who may have hesitated to take on leadership roles in the gaming and esports community. My message is simple: if you're passionate about gaming, no matter the genre of the game, go for it, regardless of your gender, and enjoy every minute you play..
That's an inspiring message, Seraphina. As you pass the torch to the next Tribe Campus Leader, what advice would you give them to ensure the continued success and growth of the Tribe community on your campus?
Ifunanya: To my successor, I'd say, be patient, persistent. Not everyone will understand your role immediately, but that's okay. Educate them, lead by example, and remember that diversity is our strength. Encourage inclusivity, healthy competition and keep finding creative ways to engage the community. Oh, and don't forget to have fun along the way!
Wise words, Seraphina. Finally, what message or words of encouragement would you like to share with the new Tribe Campus Leaders, especially your successor, as they embark on this exciting journey?
Ifunanya: To all the new Tribe Campus Leaders, embrace the adventure! You're stepping into a dynamic world where you can make a real difference. Be passionate, stay true to your goals, and don't be afraid to challenge stereotypes. Together, we can shape the future of gaming and esports on campuses across Africa. Good luck, and have a blast!
As we wrap up this incredible conversation with Seraphina, it's evident that her journey has been a testament to her passion, persistence, and power to shatter stereotypes.
From her early days as a curious gamer to becoming the first female Tribe Campus Leader, Seraphina has blazed a trail for future leaders, especially women, in the gaming and esports space.
Her story reminds us that gaming knows no gender, and anyone with a passion can take the helm. So, as we bid farewell, we're left with the echoes of Seraphina's encouraging words: "Brace yourselves for an epic adventure, and remember to enjoy every moment of it!"