Women Gamers are underrated in the E-sports community
Yesterday news hit that Logitech had decided to sponsor an all-female competitive League of Legends team to compete in an all-female competition league. This was a hot topic of discussion on the League of Legends subreddit to mixed response; some commenters argued such leagues are unnecessary and that if women are good enough at the game they will be signed to a team based on their merit, not their gender. Some were even arguing that there are genetic reasons that women are inferior at competitive gaming, something I can find absolutely no peer-reviewed studies or scientific consensus in support of my general impression was there was a lot of misinformation regarding this topic on the sub so I wrote an explanatory post arguing there are a bunch of reasons women are less present in esports — and what needs to change. The discussion I aimed to create never really materialised, and I don’t want to stir controversy, so I will simply summarise the points of the argument I made in that post here:
- Esports in general [including League of Legends] is a male dominated profession.
- Societal perception of people [especially women] keenly interested in gaming is arguably negative.
- The primary target audience of marketers for games such as LoL are young men [brands such as Razor, Coke Zero, etc. are common sponsors] and advertisement agencies in the industry claim advertising to women “would be of limited benefit”. This arguably results in esports being less visible as a potential profession to women.
- Former female professional gamers argue that fans treat them differently; with the idea that losses are blamed on female players and their victories downplayed. Rachel Quirico [prominent esports figure] went on to say women in gaming had to behave in a certain way — friendly but not too friendly — or potentially face backlash. Additionally women facing issues related to gender are reluctant to bring them up for fear as being seen as fussy.
- Communities like Twitch chat, whilst not necessarily representative of the entire esports fanbase, highlight issues related to sexism which pervade esports as a whole and can make it seem unwelcoming.
- Disasters like the short-lived debut of Team Siren almost serve as a warning or deterrence to budding female players — drawing criticism which is difficult to separate into plain sexism and valid criticism of their attitudes/play.
- Teams will be/are reluctant to accommodate cohabitation between genders in often male-orientated gaming houses in professional gaming. There is an impression of women in competitive gaming as distractions to male players.
- Finally I argued all female competitive leagues are needed to raise the overall skill level of female players by offering them valuable experience in a professional environment, as well as offering a good way of introducing women to esports or gaming who may otherwise have seen it as a fruitless endeavour. Ideally all-female leagues are a temporary solution, until the scene develops enough that gender representation is more balanced.
Anyway — with my argument out of the way — I want to hear your opinions on the matter. I really researched into this and thought about it because I wanted to promote discussion on an often overlooked topic. So what does everyone think about the lack of women in esports? Do you believe all-female leagues are a necessary step in more female representation in esports?