At the moment, Fox is airing the first season of a thought-provoking TV series, called Pitch. In it, a woman is picked up by a Major League Baseball team. She has to deal with the pressures of being a trailblazer in a male-dominated sport. This brings up the discussion of women in eSports. In theory, competitive gaming should be easily more accessible for females than baseball. Despite that, there are still no women at the highest levels of eSports. Let’s discuss the subject.
The first thing that should be talked about is the feminist concerns. Many feminist activists would point at the fact that there are basically no women at the top level of eSports as a sign of discrimination. It’s extremely doubtful that actual discrimination is the reason for the lack of women in top eSports teams. The fact of the matter is that team owners, staff, and players usually want to win tournaments more than anything else. If a female Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok or Marcelo “coldzera” David came along, nobody would care that the player is a grill, they would happily sign her. Even in games where you don’t have to ever show that you’re a girl by using voice chat, like League of Legends, how many women are there at the top of the Challenger ladder? None or very few. Why is that?
There are many reasons for the lack of women at the top of games’ competitive ladders. The first among them is probably cultural. Society expects women to be feminine, social, pretty, demure little flowers. With the gamer stereotype bringing up the images of a fat slob with potato chips on his shirt, playing video games all day out of his parents’ basement, is it really surprising that not many girls gravitate towards gaming? Of course, girls DO play eSports titles, however, they don’t get to a high level more often than not. Why don’t they?
It could be that one of the biggest reasons for the lack of girls at the top of competitive ladders is that girls are simply different from guys biologically. Men have more testosterone in their system, which makes them more competitive. Most of us can get into the mindset that we need to win, dominate our opponents, and become the best more easily, compared to girls. Where guys sometimes play with the sole purpose of getting better, girls often just play for fun. Even if they do dream of a pro career, they generally don’t have the single minded competitiveness, which is required in order to get to the top. It is not a good thing, it is not a bad thing. It just is. If a girl can overcome her different biological wiring to get to the level required to compete with professional CS:GO players, for example, she should be celebrated as the badass she truly is.
Another reason is that due to the lack of girls in the hardcore gaming community and the fact that the guys in it often lack some social skills, not being used to talking to girls, members of the community who are outed as female are immediately treated differently. Sometimes, the attention is quite pleasant, sometimes, it’s more like harassment. Most of the time, female gamers don’t want to be treated any differently if the enjoyment of the game and the desire to be the best is what’s fuelling them. They just want to be “one of the guys.” That is a rare thing, however. On the other side of the spectrum, there are girls who know that they will get attention for their gender, especially if they are attractive. The whole female streamer phenomenon is based on this.
There is no reason why a female player shouldn’t be allowed to play for a top team in an eSport of her choice. However, she needs to genuinely be better at the game than every other applicant for that spot. Unfortunately, because of societal, biological, and cultural reasons, females usually do not get to that level. Instead, they choose various other walks of life and use their potential there. Some day, however, there will come a girl who will absolutely body her male opponents. When it happens, it will be awesome. People will celebrate her. She will be like that girl from Pitch. Let’s hope that she can deal with the pressure like the character in the series is dealing with hers.