Does Gender Segregation Have a Place in eSports?

Written by Contributor

November 24, 2015

Photo credits to IQ by Intel

Photo credits to IQ by Intel

In the world of sports, many people compete in how well they can perform in athletics. The general theme of sportsmanship is competing on equal grounds with rules that as much as possible, keep the competitors treated equally. However the men and women have different divisions for themselves. This would be because of natural differences between men and women. Men naturally tend to have taller stature, more muscle mass and tougher bones. Women in the other hand tend to be more flexible and balance better. For the same reason you’ll always see men and women excelling and being featured different divisions, if not different leagues entirely.

Then here comes eSports, where taps on a screen, keyboard, mouse or gamepad is pretty much all the physical activity you need to be capable to participate. Ideally your gender or genitals wouldn’t really play a part if you’re capable or not. So why is it that we’re seeing gaming events where your gender may be checked or required?

While the demographic for competitive gaming has been largely male for many years now, women just recently have started having more presence in the scene and I’d like to believe that the change is welcome. But is it really necessary for them to have a separate league if their own? I would say yes but with reservations.

There is an understandable barrier or two for a girl to get involved in what initially started to be somewhat of an all-boys club.  An all-women’s league is more like a direct invitation for women to get involved in the scene and become part of the community. And I firmly believe that’s where it should end. Eventually they should be introduced to the open leagues, where they can pose themselves to be true competitors. Continuously playing these leagues exclusively for them will only lead them to playing similar opponents all the time, and that might lead to them being simply there for the sake of being there. And from what I’ve noticed, this has indeed been the case with most of our recent local events.

They would host games that have all-girl teams play a game of League of Legends or Dota2. They’d put them on stage with all the attention on them, but instead of being featured as gamers, they’re repeatedly examined as girls who happen to play games. There was even a time where commentators would throw jokes that get pretty sexist during one of their events. At which point it gets pretty questionable what the true intentions are. One might say it’s really just a marketing ploy for the audience.

Tammy Tang and PMS Asterisk

Tammy Tang and PMS Asterisk

And a few days ago I just noticed that a certain organization is putting up an all-gay LoL tournament. Seriously, why? How will you determine who’s eligible to play? Does being gay grant them some sort of MOBA super powers or handicaps? My mind is so full of questions. Why not just feature a role model and have them play in a normal league? Considering the typical local attitude towards gay people, won’t this end up as some sort of joke?

While certain exclusive leagues could help diversify the player base, which would broaden the audience. We might want to think of other ways of introducing new people to the scene. Certainly there would be better methods than collecting them all and placing them in a fish tank for our entertainment.

Okay, let’s look at this objectively. What good can an event like this do? It’d increase exposure of eSports to demographics that are ideally left untouched by the current way of things. It would also show that the scene is openly welcoming those who are not normally known to the industry. However it would mean that the interest of eSports has to somehow align with what the gay community need or want.

Unfortunately, I really can’t see how marketing a gaming lifestyle or industry can directly affect somebody’s needs or wants based on their gender. It only starts to make sense when you leave out the gender and focus on them as gamers. As I pointed out before, gender shouldn’t really affect your capability to play a game or be a gamer. So why focus on that?

Instead it might be better to introduce some sort of league that is focused on newcomers, rookies, and all that. Where their needs as possibly clueless players can be more directly met without the pressure of being surrounded by veterans who can play games without showing much effort. Rather than parading them to the public as they try playing games competitively, it may be better to focus on what it would take for them to appreciate, enjoy, and eventually be passionate about the games you’d like them to be part of. This kind of approach doesn’t only extend to LGBT but basically any community that one might be trying to reach out to.

If we are so adamant to prove that gamers don’t have to be only guys, wouldn’t it be better to focus on the idea that ‘anyone can be a gamer’ rather than ‘gays can be gamers too?’

Article by: Allen Silva

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