Recently, I attempted to come up with a ‘Top 10’ article about Women in eSports but it proved less successful than it should have been.
I have worked through sources, article after article, trying to find the top female players in any league, only to find that they practically don’t exist. It was a shocking fact that I never thought that I would have to contend with. Though at the same time, given the way the current climate views equality, I shouldn’t have surprised.
I started out with simple stats, by looking at a list of the highest earnings ratings for women in eSports. While I wasn’t making high earnings from gaming a priority, I wanted to at least display that these gamers could make a living, or close to it, by playing professionally.
Notice a vast difference? A gap of $122,000.00 (Female) compared to $1,169,821.92 (Male) is a rather huge gap, if you ask my opinion. Also, the highest earning female player has earned less than the 143 top male players. This can be for a multitude of reasons, while I could say it is a matter of equality, or lack there of, there is another very important reason.
As I dug deeper, I found the same problem popping up consistently. People’s reasoning may have differed about it, but the fact is has been a common denominator:
Compared to men, there are nearly no women competing in eSports.
The Truth Is in the Numbers
When it comes to eSports leagues, the percentage of men playing is 90%, while women players have sat in the remaining 10%. A recurring line I’ve read is that “eSports is a male dominated” affair.
Teams from around the world are comprised of mostly male players. It has been difficult to find an all female team within their ranks, let alone a single female on a team. Though there was still some to be found.
All female Team Siren (we’ll touch more on them in a moment) have been one of the only ones I could find in terms of full-fledged female teams. You saw the list of women in gaming, there should have been at least a handful.
I also found some solo players that are doing well for themselves as well. Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn is a current contender in the StarCraft 2 gaming arena, and Ciji “StarSlay3r” Thorton, who was originally in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band style tournaments but has migrated around the world of professional gaming.
After all that research, I could only report to you a team and two individuals still currently in eSports. Anyone else find that the least bit upsetting?
There Are Always Reasons
The finger is always pointed at equality, as it should be in most cases. Men treating women poorly since they are of the opposite gender, thinking they cannot compete at the same level.
It happens a lot and it has always existed outside of video games, so it becoming a major issue in them isn’t a surprise. Treatment of women in gaming has been rather appalling, with slurs, objectification, and simply under valuing their skills.
It makes me sad to see and hear this treatment happen on an almost daily basis. I’ve had female friends in the past be called out in online matches for sucking just because they heard they were women. Then when they schooled them in Kill/Death Ratio, those same accussors just accuse them of having their boyfriend’s playing for them.
It has been a lose/lose situation.
That isn’t the only reason for the out numbering of women to men, and this one is commonly overlooked.
Plain and simple, discouragement has kept great players from trying to reach the status of pro-gaming. I would say it’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t see many women reaching into the fold as often as they should.
While the treatment received by male players is something to consider in this, there are a few others who treat them this way that we don’t shine the light of truth on.
One example of this just so happens to be from the organizers of the events. Harkening back to earlier this year with Hearthstone tournament organizer IeSF (International eSports Federation). Initially, they had segregated women in men into their own various tournaments, giving the men a total of 5 tournaments to compete in while women only had 2.
These games were of similar genre’s, similar skill levels required, but still the IeSF deemed it necessary to keep the genders separate. After an article by PC Gamer that probed for questions about this segregation and why it even existed. They explained they were following “international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.”
To combat the issue, the IeSf decided, after the constant questioning of their decision by the community, to turn the Male-only tournaments into Open-To-All, but left the Female-only tournaments in tact. While some people say it was a step in the right direction, others thought it was just a band-aid on a growing problem.
Why did an organization that claims they are “lobbying for the equal rights of male and female players” even included a Female and Male Only division in the first place? It is enough to raise an eyebrow. The whole point of equal rights is to allow women and men an equal footing. Even the decision to keep Female-Only tournaments feels like the organizations are giving them a handicap.
A handicap that, I feel, women don’t need to stand beside men when gaming.
The Perfect and Imperfect Examples
Gamers like Scarlett (Sasha Hostyn) are making waves in eSports. Currently on Team Acer, Scarlett is a high-ranking player. She has trumped well-known StarCraft 2 players, such as Bomber (Choi Ji Sung), and competed in major tournaments like Red Bull Battle Grounds New York City. She has had many accomplishments and has placed in the top 5 in many of the tournaments she competed in.
Scarlett has overcome many adversities since joining the higher ranks of eSports. Becoming recognized among the community always comes with a steep price. Dealing with the sexist remarks and discrimination from those who didn’t see women as equals, she has had the ability to grin and bare it. She’s even learned to raz her opponents with the best of them.
However, Hostyn has to deal with an added level of discrimination. She is transgendered and while I, nor many of her fans, don’t see an issue with this, there are those who would vilify her. People in online forums and live stream chats have questioned her on her gender preference as well as her anatomy. I don’t choose to repeat what has been said because I have more respect for Hostyn and anyone else who is transgendered. Reposting those comments only gives the power to those who wrote them.
Scarlett is a prime example of how women can have a positive and powerful role in eSports. It shows their potential to do great things, but they should be wary to not walk in the footsteps of all female Team Siren.
As I mentioned above, Team Siren was an all female team that competed for a short time in the League Of Legends circuit. They set out to become a symbol for women in pro-gaming. While that is a noble intention, their actions showed something completely different. The team started with trash talking, claiming they could take any pro team on (while they weren’t ranked very high), and basically gave themselves a poor reputation.
Un-sportmanlike, driven by the fact that since they were women they thought they were better, and used their sex appeal in live streams to gather support. Team Siren was a shining example of how women in eSports should NOT act.
Gaming For All
I am a far way away from the original idea of Top Ten Women in eSports, and I wont deny that this has evolved beyond my imagining. I can only say that I support women in all things they want to do, I see them as equals if they treat me as such.
Researching this has really brought insight to the subject, for me at least. I always respected a woman for willingly picking up a controller and wanting to hold her own against anyone, male or female, professionally. More so, I respect them for just being willing to pick up a controller for the fun of it and not care what someone else has to say.
Video games were created as a medium of entertainment, a source of art, and most importantly of all, to bring people together. I used to write under a certain motto, and I believe it still sticks. One that has no gender bias, and doesn’t tell anyone that they can’t play. They are all Gamers to me, and that’s why I’ve always said:
“I’m Connecting Gamers, One Console At A Time”