Enter player 2: why eSports must promote inclusivity

Recent comments from the world’s most prominent streamer Ninja about his aversion to playing with female gamers made big headlines. “If I have one conversation with one female streamer where we’re playing with one another, and even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever.” While we perceive gamers to be a hugely diverse group of people these comments hurt our sport, and speak for a wider section of a male-dominated community struggling with its changing identity.

By 2020 there is expected to be a doubling of the amount of players worldwide, and a recent study by DELL noted that one in two gamers could identify a female friend they played with. Nearly half of American women have played or play games. What we consider to be a traditional gamer is changing, and this will come with some challenges.

Ninja’s follow-up comments express admiration for female streamers, and tries to stress that fear of media repercussions is the driving factor for his refusal to play with female gamers. While Ninja himself might not be sexist, his behaviour is still problematic and reflects badly on the community he has built up around him. Exclusion of half of the world’s future gamers is not sustainable. That Ninja’s interview was with Polygon, a champion of diversity and inclusivity in gaming, contrasted sharply with the tone of a publisher known for progressive views.

You may be asking what Yamzu’s angle on this is. Good question. For us, we want to build a gaming platform for the future and we think this kind of social issue is hugely important for users. Gender equality in gaming is crucial to the sport progressing, and we have can learn from the problematic behaviours of established sporting institutions to build a better world. For example, it is well known that golf clubs still hold discriminatory practices against women, and this is an easy thing to avoid. In a space where there is no physical presence it makes absolutely no sense to separate people in competition. The beauty of gaming is that all you need is a joystick.

The scope for eSports to be an arena that thrives on inclusivity is part of the thrill. It is decidedly less sizest or ableist than traditional sports such as basketball, football or rugby. To think of anyone being discluded over these platforms is unjustified, and a stark reflection of our values as a society. As we are based in Sweden, we are very blessed to be in a society that has progressive social values. As we continue to build Yamzu as a progressive platform for the future (starting with our ICO) these issues should be at the forefront of conversations that we have about gaming behaviour and what companies can do to help.

While the comments Ninja made pertain to his personal situation regarding his relationships, we believe they help enforce unwelcome precedents in our community. This debate is an important one. Gaming and eSport’s opportunities are limitless and universal, but the biggest barrier to cool things happening is human behaviour and enforcing social issues into the virtual space. At Yamzu we think a key part of building the gaming platforms of the future has to come from addressing these issues.

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