Are Esports Sexist

It is very common to find gender discrimination in the United States. There are safe havens that accept all people. Esports is definitely one of the communities that falls in between safety and discrimination based on gender. Recently there has been a growth in the amount of women that follow esports, as well as play them. During these times when people harass female gamers the haters have also used extremely offensive language against them just because they are women. Issues like this have inspired the creation articles saying that esports is a sexist community which has caused the debate and brought the question, are esports sexist?

In 2016 there was a rise in the amount of women joining gaming culture as a whole. Many of them being twitch streamers and content creators for youtube. All of these female streamers have received ridicule and sexist comments from men that watch the content they create. This translates heavily into esports, as many in the community have experienced similar issues. When it comes to pro female players they experience it daily because of the gender pay gap and threats they receive. In an article from BBC, 100 Women 2016: The women challenging sexism in e-sports, they said “Julia Kiran is the leader of Team Secret, which in October became the top female team in the world. She thinks this reflects a common attitude: It’s always felt that female teams are not a real scene. Male players see us as a side game that doesn’t count” (BBC, 2016). This has led to female only tournaments which has helped prevent the amount of harassment women have received; yet they get paid so little for winning a major tournament. In the same article it informed us “The earning for the top male player in e-sports amounts to over $2,500,000 while the top female earnings are less than $200,000. Ultimately, there is less money to be made from female teams, leading to fewer sponsors, and reduced coverage” (BBC, 2016). This shows the extreme pay gap that women face in esports. That is exactly $2,300,000 that female gamers lose because of this issue. It is an extreme underpayment and I believe it’s worse than the difference between other sports gender pay gaps.

On the issues of sexism, many understand that America has a prevalent issue with sexism as a whole. A lot of these issues come from stigmas that women should be doing feminine activities instead of what they are actually interested in. This stigma transfers over to the gaming community because very few women in total play games. In an article written by Kwame Opam, Men call themselves gamers, but just as many women play games, “men ages 18–29, with 77 percent of respondents saying they play games and a full 33 percent identifying as gamers. That compares to 57 percent of women playing games and just 9 percent of female gamers in the same age group. However, Pew did also find that people’s relationship to gaming changes as they age. Thirty-eight percent of women over the age of 50 play video games, as compared to 29 percent of men” (Opam, 2017). This is mostly because advertising and the demographic is focused largely on men. This is currently playing a factor on women that are actually deciding to become professional gamers. Companies have caused a divide and cutting off certain demographics from joining the community. In an article on Polygon written by Emily Gera,Where are the women in eSports?, it says “ As companies like Intel and Coca-Cola begin to invest in eSports they do so with an eye toward connecting not with the profession as a whole, but specifically “affluent young men,” according to a study from SuperData Research” (Gera, 2014). This explains why scrutinization can happen, especially to women, because of the demographic that has been reached and the ideals that have been rooted into the brains of young men saying that girls shouldn’t play games. This also contributes to the small population of women playing any games and becoming invested in gaming.

In this community there are people who believe anyone and everyone should be allowed to join and experience the wealth of fun that esports has in store for them. Being an esports viewer or player is possibly one the most exciting experiences for anybody. It brings together a new generation of technology geeks and gaming nerds that love to compete and participate in large events. When the idea that the community was sexist arose it offended many who view it as a generally open place and thought these articles aren’t helping with the situation. An article on Esports News UK titled, BBC TV SHOW ON WOMEN IN ESPORTS MAKES FURTHER INACCURACIES FOLLOWING ARTICLE BACKLASH, states

“The BBC Victoria Derbyshire show…claimed that the eSports Industry Awards is “the world’s biggest gaming awards” and that “no women were actually nominated in any of the gaming categories. Two inaccuracies. While the eSports Industry Awards was a success, it was its first event this year and is by no means the biggest gaming awards bash. There’s the video game BAFTAs, for one. Secondly, five women were nominated for awards: one journalist (Pip Warr), one broadcaster (Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere) and three photographers (Stephanie “Vexanie” Lindgren, Helena Kristiansson and Adela Sznajder)” (Esports News UK, 2016).

This point of view opens up that certain news sources might not be entirely accurate and help the cause. When a story comes out about a group it should be accurate and shouldn’t show it as a negative zone without better evidence.

While contemplating which argument was “correct” I had to realise most people in the community aren’t sexist pigs. The esports community involves many people and has seen more women join in recent years compared to the past. I find that this community is suffering a similar fate that sports like the MLB and NFL dealt with. A smaller group of sexist men saying women don’t belong and they aren’t allowed. It is an issue because many in the community aren’t doing much to help prevent this and need to take more preventive measures. The community has to work on finding and shutting down the toxic group in the community. I can’t blame the entire group of esports spectators because there are families that love watching teams compete and they love to go to major events. Even while I believe there is work to be done to help introduce more women into esports and to increase pay for the pros I do not believe the community as a whole is sexsist.

The community has been growing for drastically over the past three years and with time it will to grow to be popular in the US. When it is big enough I believe it will be further along in equal rights for all players. The entire community works together to create and attend large events to connect in their nerdiness. This is a community which is usually very accepting and kind yet people that may not be as into the community can stir up issues. Issues will persist to be present but it is the job of the kind and loving members of the community to help end the large social issues within the walls of esports and gaming.

Works Cited

“100 Women 2016: The Women Challenging Sexism in e-Sports.” BBC News, BBC, 2016, www.bbc.com/news/technology-37992322.

“BBC TV Show on Women in ESports Makes Further Inaccuracies Following Article Backlash — Opinion & Video Link.” Esports News UK, 2016, www.esports-news.co.uk/2016/11/24/bbc-women-esports-backlash/.

Gera, Emily. “Where Are the Women in ESports?” Polygon, Polygon, 2014, www.polygon.com/2014/5/27/5723446/women-in-esports-professional-gaming-riot-games-blizzard-starcraft-lol.

Opam, Kwame. “Men Call Themselves Gamers, but Just as Many Women Play Games.” The Verge, The Verge, 2015, www.theverge.com/2015/12/15/10220440/pew-research-center-video-games-gender.