Women in e-Sports: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Women have been struggling for equality in just about everything for as long as anyone can remember. They are objectified, discriminated against, and generally ridiculed when trying to do thing perceived to be a "man's" domain. Guys talk about how they love girl gamers, right up until the fact girls try to get taken seriously. A few days ago, Team Siren, an all girls LoL team, released a video that sent the scene into a frenzy about their legitimacy, and earned plenty of ridicule. Either way, it got an interesting conversation started.

This isn't an article crying out against the injustice women face, how they really are good as men at everything, and how God is really a woman. The goal here is to identify what holds women back from succeeding in competitive LoL, and what possible solutions are out there to change it from their end.

Self-perpetuating misogyny

The gaming community will never be known as the most mature, the most forgiving, or the most accepting community around. Twitch chat and Xbox live continue to make sure of that. If we're talking real, the majority of viewers of female streams are only there to watch the girls on webcam.

In order, for these same girls to get more viewers they are tempted to play to what their "viewers" want and dress a little more revealing and act a little ditsier, thus perpetuating this idea that girls aren't to be taken seriously. At some point, girls have to decide whether they want exposure by exposing themselves, or let their play give them exposure.

Not all girls do this, and let's get this out of the way right now some girls are very, very good at League of Legends. If girls want to be taken seriously in e-Sports though, it's going to be difficult at first because that blow-back will happen. The community won't take anyone seriously until a girl comes along so good and serious about the game that she forces you to take her seriously. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947 hitting .297 and stealing 29 bases. He made people realize color wasn't the reason he was getting a chance, it was that he was plain good.

The girl(s) involved in e-Sports don't need to minimize the fact that they are a female by any means, just maximize the fact that they are plain good. The more a girl makes it about her gender, the more it will be talked about and discussed and added layer of pressure will be created on top of everything else that happens when someone is playing competitively. Thick skin is necessary because one thing is certain, especially on the internet, the hate is coming. 

A girl shouldn't be punished for her gender, but we don't live in a vacuum. Things will be harder no matter how she handles herself than if she were a man in the scene. It's not fair it just what is, but the payoff for doing it right and making it big would be world's larger for the one's who do make it. Danica Patrick was able to embrace both being a woman and a racer, and turn it into a successful career, and give a niche sport an even wider viewer base. League of Legends could certainly benefit from the same thing, and hopefully that person isn't too far around the corner.

The problem with an all girl team/league

What do you see when you look around the world at sports. Men's leagues and women's leagues because genetically women can't compete with men on the same playing field in most of the "major" sports. That's science, but it doesn't apply to everything and absolutely doesn't apply to gaming. Having an all-girl team or league will be seen as a gimmick at best, and be used a punchline at worst until we see definitive proof that even one girl can consistently play at a high level in the scene.

In sports, you want the best talent available if your goal is to win. Millions of people play League of Legends, and most of them are bad (ask anyone who plays solo queue). Finding 5 people who can work together is extremely difficult, and when you narrow that field down to just females it's easy to see why the idea seems a bit misguided. When people watch sports, they want to see a game played at a high level, and compromising talent for a gimmick won't get anyone noticed for more than everyone's allotted "15 minutes."

All girls leagues suffer from this even more than just single teams. The goal in league, especially competitive league  is to get better. The wins will come as long as you get better. If girls limit themselves to playing against just other girl teams the talent pool will stagnate.

North America suffered for so long in the competitive scene because of a lack of viable scrim partners. The same would be true of all girls leagues. You force yourself into a niche and become the WNBA, the LPGA, or at best women's tennis. A following, but near the male scene because the level of play is noticeably lower. The whole point of gaming is that it evens the playing field for everyone, no matter your gender, athleticism or race.

Girls teams in league, or teams with girls on them should participate fully in the amateur circuit and win. Winning solves all sorts of problems, no matter how big or complicated they seem, and if Team Siren suddenly won a few Go4LoLs then placed highly in an amateur event people would have to sit up and take notice. It has to be about the game, and it has to be with winning in mind. If the goal for girls out there is just stream numbers an a quick cash grab, then all you are doing is making it harder for the next girl(s) to succeed.

As a community we need to embrace the idea of women in the scene because it only legitimizes us more and more, and shows that the stereotypical antisocial awkward gamer nerd isn't what dominates our demographic. We can be an inclusive bunch if we try, and women need to do their best to let their play force us to sit up and take notice. This isn't a problem with an easy answer, and it won't be easy for whoever finally does break through the glass ceiling, but until then we could all be a little nicer to those who try.

What do you think RoG'ers? What do girls need to do to truly make it into the scene? Are all girl's teams and leagues good or bad for them in the end? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to ReignofGaming for all your e-Sports related needs.


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Comments

  • #268 Domika

    This is an older post but as I only just read it I felt the need to comment. There is a site that actually tracks the winnings (only prize pool winnings, not earnings) of professional gamers. While perhaps not 100% accurate, it does have female professionals listed here

    What stood out on eSport Earnings is that in the primarily 1 v 1 competitive games, such as Starcraft, the professional gamers had rankings in tournaments that offered mixed gender, whereas in team games, such as Counter-Strike, it was predominately gender specific events. While I do realise there are 1 v 1 female only leagues for Starcraft, and similar games, the team/pack mentality of 5 v 5 games I think displays the issue of gender more appropriately.

    I’m sure societal/cultural influences play a factor; women enjoy being part of a ‘sisterhood’, they feel safer, men are distracted by women, women are distracted by men, etc. However as with many aspects of our society, I feel that marketing has a huge impact. As Tuck mentioned, there is the ‘sex sells’ aspect and e-sport organisers/marketers use it heavily. Men in gaming are posed in pictures in ‘hero stances’ to look impressive, even intimidating. Yet women are often either coy and sultry, or sexy dominatrix. Men are advertised to be taken seriously; women are advertised to be ‘enjoyed’. While the players themselves can certainly try to break the mould, it is really the power of the event organisers and the fans that can change competitive gaming back to being only about skill, and not about gender. 



    Last edited by Domika: 11/15/2013 11:43:55 PM
  • #248 LadyKitsune

    I doubt this will get much recognition here, but there is absolutely nothing legitimate about team siren. It is an attempt at getting stream numbers, and some "fun" for the millionaire backing the project and a few friends of his that have attempted to bed some of the members. It is not the least bit about equality in gaming. And I'm not talking about discriminating against men. It is apparently policy of the owner that any transgender women also be rejected, regardless of skill. The official quote given to me is "It's about promoting women in gaming, not just 'non-males' in gaming"

    So you have "certain types of women" not allowed to join, you have management that sleeps with employees and then kicks them out of the team, forcing them to pay the lease breaking fee, and you have another member come out with frustration that - get this - the team doesn't practice enough. But there's always one of the members on! How could that be? It's because there is a schedule to have someone on at all times. It's more important to them to have someone on to see, then having the team practice together. The member that aired their frustration with that fact was kicked out also. Nothing about the team is professional. There is not a speck of professionalism about them. It's all about some guy with money attempting to have a team of girls to make money off of as eye candy. If they aren't grateful to him, they are replaced by someone else.

  • #227 Alic3InUnd3rland

    Pro girl gamers are needed in my opinion. Wish I could be one, but for now I have my youtube channel and I post full gameplays with commentary. It's a start! =D

    my channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Alic3InUnd3rland

    One of my most recent videos! An ahri game and it was only the second time as her!

  • #221 Starfols

    Colalin is an incredibly accomplished professional LoL  player. She was a sub for TPA when they won season 2 finals, now she's on TPS. She also hosts a popular radio program about LoL. She's firmly set on the pro scene, yet in all the articles about this topic that I have seen, her existence has been ignored. Why?

  • #212 Xianio

    I'm all for that, but we shouldn't embrace the idea JUST because they are women, as you said, they have to prove it with their game and thus far, they have not. Yeah, they might be better than 70-80% of the player base, but they are not nearly as good as the top teams, or even the amateur ones.

     The number you're looking for is 90%. I'm sorry but by what definition is the top 10 percentile not "proving it with their game?" If you were a 90% student you'd earn free rides to some universities. If you were in the top 90% of all basketball players you'd be playing in the NBA, the same goes for any professional league in any sport.

    Being the top 10% if impressive, no matter how you cut it. These are 5 women trying to prove that they're in the top 0.1% of players. That's -really fucking hard- to do. Yet, despite the difficulty and excessive skill being shown you make a gender-based excuse.

    Frankly, it's stupid to try and tell anyone that any member of Siren is "bad" because they can't yet beat anyone in the top 1% of all players. Yet you, and many many others do. It shows, very clearly, the wildly different standards you hold a woman to than a man.

    Personally, I hate it because it's attitude like this why I, and many others, know that 'gamer' is still something you can't admit to being in the adult world and expect to be taken seriously. It sucks and I wish it wasn't the case, but this is the world my peers force me to live in.

  • #213 GentlemanGustaf

    Woah. Top 10% would not put you in the NBA :p

    But yeah, losing to CLG doesn't make you bad, and being in Diamond 1 solo queue means a lot.

    I actually had this conversation a lot. I've had offers from other gaming magazines from time to time, and am really considering going into writing about gaming full-time, and I joked about how my parents would introduce my brother and me:

    "This is our youngest, he's a sports journalist! Here's a picture of him meeting Kobe Bryant, and here he is on CNN, and here he is in the NYTimes

    And this our eldest, he's a *mumble mumble* writer."

    "He's a what?"

    "He's a *mumble mumble* writer"

    "What exactly does he do?"

    "He writes about *mumble mumble*"

  • #214 Xianio

    Top 10% wouldn't get you onto the Lakers but you could definitely fill a bench on a team like... I dunno Orlando Magic :P

    Last edited by Xianio: 6/7/2013 10:40:03 PM
  • #215 Cyrodilian

    Don't under sell yourself - here's a picture of our youngest meeting MegaZero, formerly of Team MRN, who also holds the title of Best Riven NA, and here he is standing in the background of Riot Games' Twitch TV stream - sounds very impressive. I'm sure your parents' friends are glued to the LCS every weekend over the dying print media world of the NY Times :)

  • #216 GentlemanGustaf

    There are like 450 basketball players in the NBA. If being in the top 10% put you in the NBA, that would mean that only 4500 people in the world played basketball. Being in the top 10% of D1 basketball teams probably wouldn't even get you into the NBA.

  • #217 GentlemanGustaf

    Quote from Cyrodilian »

    Don't under sell yourself - here's a picture of our youngest meeting MegaZero, formerly of Team MRN, who also holds the title of Best Riven NA, and here he is standing in the background of Riot Games' Twitch TV stream - sounds very impressive. I'm sure your parents' friends are glued to the LCS every weekend over the dying print media world of the NY Times :)


    If my parents weren't in their 60s, that might almost be theoretically possible :p

    Last edited by GentlemanGustaf: 6/7/2013 10:49:46 PM
  • #218 Cyrodilian

    I know - I tried to explain what the LCS was to my parents (I was watching the stream), and they looked at me like... why would 200,000 people watch this.

  • #205 Dalzee

    "As a community we need to embrace the idea of women in the scene because it only legitimizes us more and more, and shows that the stereotypical antisocial awkward gamer nerd isn't what dominates our demographic."

     

    I'm all for that, but we shouldn't embrace the idea JUST because they are women, as you said, they have to prove it with their game and thus far, they have not. Yeah, they might be better than 70-80% of the player base, but they are not nearly as good as the top teams, or even the amateur ones. 

    Lastly, I really hate the use of the word "Misogyny", for me, it's an excuse White Knights use when criticizing females for their lack of skill or failure to accomplish something. I'm not saying women are not capable of fulfilling this "dream" of having an all-female team, it's just that they haven't shown the skills necessary for it.

  • #206 GentlemanGustaf

    Stop making this about pro teams. This is about the way gamers treat women as part of their general culture.

    Nobody's saying you can't criticize a woman (or a man) for being bad at LoL, so long as that criticism is ABOUT LoL, the behavior that is being addressed is criticizing women for being women.

    Also, the word is pretty accurate, as there are strong anti-female sentiments in our culture.

    I really hate the use of the word White Knights. I write this, to quote John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun (basically THE premiere gaming theory website) "because I'm angry about something - constructively angry about something a person should be angry about - and I want to see positive. That's what causes me to start typing, including this piece."

    You can question people's motives all you want, but it doesn't make you some sort of trailblazer or brilliant psych evaluator, it just means you're looking for a reason to ignore somebody else's opinion, and haven't found a way to do so on content alone.

  • #228 qucangel

    Nobody's saying you can't criticize a woman (or a man) for being bad at LoL, so long as that criticism is ABOUT LoL, the behavior that is being addressed is criticizing women for being women.

    Pretty sure there is absolutely no way to tell gender based on your league account.

    as there are strong anti-female sentiments in our culture.

    Is this a joke?

    I really hate the use of the word White Knights.

    It's pretty apt at describing this entire post in general.

    Outside of the pro scene it's impossible to tell if a player is female or male, if a woman wanted to be ambiguous they could create a name that isn't gender-based. If they want people to know they're a woman, or take it further and announce it, you simply have to take the good with the bad.

    Inside the pro scene, they're going about it in all the wrong ways, attempting to create cheesy full-female teams instead of just incorporating themselves into existing teams or accepting male members. Siren is just a complete joke and probably is going to do more harm than good to the female community in league.

  • #229 GentlemanGustaf

    Quote from qucangel»

    Nobody's saying you can't criticize a woman (or a man) for being bad at LoL, so long as that criticism is ABOUT LoL, the behavior that is being addressed is criticizing women for being women.

    Pretty sure there is absolutely no way to tell gender based on your league account.

    what's my gender? (you know, based on my league account)

    as there are strong anti-female sentiments in our culture.

    Is this a joke?

    is this?

    I really hate the use of the word White Knights.

    It's pretty apt at describing this entire post in general.

    Outside of the pro scene it's impossible to tell if a player is female or male, if a woman wanted to be ambiguous they could create a name that isn't gender-based. If they want people to know they're a woman, or take it further and announce it, you simply have to take the good with the bad.

    Inside the pro scene, they're going about it in all the wrong ways, attempting to create cheesy full-female teams instead of just incorporating themselves into existing teams or accepting male members. Siren is just a complete joke and probably is going to do more harm than good to the female community in league.

    yep! how dare those women identify as women! they should know that brings harassment because, come on, who doesn't harass women?

  • #230 qucangel

    I could wager a guess that you're male, but in all reality it's pretty much a coin flip as any female could make their account gentlemanX.

    For as many anti-female sentiments there are, anti-male ones exist.

    I've literally never seen, in league anyways, someone get harassed for proclaiming to be female. It's the shitty ones who look for special treatment because they're female whom get bashed. And honestly, if a black player looked for special treatment just because he was black, I'd probably bash him too. Not for being black, for being shitty, obviously.

  • #231 GentlemanGustaf

    So, you don't see that it's weird that a lady could make a 'gentleman' account, but it would be weird if a man made a 'lady' account?

    Exactly what insults are made that insult people FOR being male? Because there are plenty of insults that people make at people FOR being female. Being 'feminine' is just seen as a bad thing: if you're a woman, it's bad because you shouldn't be expressing your gender, if you're a man, it makes you a bitch.

  • #232 qucangel

    It's not really weird either way. Plenty of men pretend to be chicks, plenty of chicks pretend to be men, but in general why even make a declaration if you're seriously harmed by the fact that people point things out in mean ways? Androgynous names are completely capable of being made.

    Name some female aimed insults, I'd love to hear them from you since I've never heard them in game.

     

  • #233 GentlemanGustaf

    let's start with 'bitch/whore' and move on from there

  • #234 PMilkos

    Quote from GentlemanGustaf »

    let's start with 'bitch/whore' and move on from there

    Well, "bitch" is a gender-neutral insult, in that it's used equally against males and females. "Whore" less so, but still it's often used against both genders.

    But then again we could also go counting all male-specific insults as well, and we won't be going anywhere. An insult is an insult, the exact word and/or its ethymology is completely irrelevant.

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