(The IeSF has changed their policy as of writing this, which is addressed at the bottom)
Some companies may make a choice to market a game heavily towards women, or they may try to appeal to men. While it is true that most choose to market towards men, as they are the majority consumer base for games, there is no reason why women cannot purchase, play, and become great at any and all games. In gaming gender does not play a factor in who may be better at a game.
This is absolutely one of the best aspects to gaming.
Unlike physical sports like football or basketball where separating genders makes at least some sense, games have no restriction. It doesn’t matter if your short, tall, fat, skinny, weak, strong, or any other physical description. Anyone can become good at a game and compete if they wish to do so. There is no reason to believe that just because a man may be playing a woman that he has the better chance to win. If we know nothing about either player, regardless of gender, we all have absolutely no idea who may defeat the other.
This comes in response to a Hearthstone tournament where only men were allowed to participate. This has to do directly with an organization known as The International e-sports Federation (IeSF), which responded to the outcry since the information about the tournament broke. Basically, they say that they separated men and women for two reasons: 1, to promote women through a female-only competition and 2, to follow rules of other international sports, like chess, which they claim separates men and women.
While it is true there is some separation in chess, woman can still participate in the largest chess competition in the world if they wish to do so. As for their first point, we all know that is laughably idiotic. They want to promote women through segregation. All that does is highlight the fact that there is a supposed difference between men and women when it comes to gaming and there most definitely is not.
This is such an archaic way of thinking that it is sad, however, believable. Regardless of the fact that humanity has not had the best track record when it comes to equality, e-sports are still very much in their infancy and the only thing they have to base their organization and function on are preexisting sports. The fact that basketball separates men and women most definitely informed the way that e-sports decided to organize itself in this way.
It’s not fair to condemn e-sports as a whole as this is a problem linked directly to IeSF. Other organizations are more accommodating for sure, like MLG, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that IeSF is not the only one doing something like this – it is just the only one that we know about.
We should encourage more women to play games, if they want to of course, and not push them out of the “big boy” leagues. There are plenty of really great pro gamers that happen to be women out there, in plenty of different games. The fact that there are more men only has to do with the fact that far more men play games than women.
We should highlight the fact that games, likely better than any other kind of competition, lends itself to equality in all forms, including gender (it still has its issues with gender however). It is one of the gaming’s best features that anyone, literally anyone from anywhere, can play them and be good if they want to or have fun. There is no way of knowing who may rise to the top.
Every time that gamers have to come to gaming’s defense, which is unfortunately fairly often, the fact that gaming has this quality should be among the first things gamers point out.
After writing this the IeSF came out with an announcement that they will have two categories for the tournament now, an “Open for All” category and one solely for women. To be fair, good for IeSF for listening and actually doing something. There is still a problem, however. The necessity of two categories at all, one of them being women only, only highlights the difference, as mentioned previously.
I do think that IeSF has good intentions behind having the women only category, as they say in this announcement they believe it will help draw more women into competition, which may very well be true. The fact remains that it is blindingly obvious that women are being singled out. While an entirely different topic, it is not likely that the lack of women only events that keep them from joining competitions, but the culture surrounding gaming at the moment, which in many ways is vicious towards women. That systemic problem likely needs to be addressed first before more women want to become a part of said culture.
Still, the potential for true equality in gaming is great, if we want to attain it, and we should considering this potential is one of gaming’s greatest aspects.