Hearthstone Tournament Now Allows Girls – A Lesson on Legitimizing eSports

The boys only clubhouse got shook-up, now girls are allowed to play too.


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July 1, 2014 — The International eSports Federation said a Hearthstone tournament is a boys-only club – NO GIRLS ALLOWED! That tune has changed and so have the rules for the IeSF.


The Finnish Assembly, where the qualifier is being held, had this to say in regards to the IeSF rules “…in accordance with the IeSF tournament regulations, the main tournament event is open to male players only.”


Gender Segregated Events


Later that day the IeSF held an emergency meeting and have since changed their tune. According to Polygon, “As a result, IeSF shall have two event categories. ‘Open for All’ events and events that are reserved for women. The events which were initially set aside as the male division will now be open to all genders, and the events which were initially set as the female division will remain as they were.”


Blizzard, the studio that created Hearthstone, reported to Polygon on the issue:

“One of our goals with eSports is to ensure that there’s a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games. We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal.”

The South Korean based IeSF states their goal was to apply and obtain a SportAccord membership, which acts as an umbrella for all international sports. The IeSF spokesperson Alex Lim said “IeSF did not mean any sexism or gender discrimination, but originally tried to make the scene good for females.”

Lim continued to tell Polygon a requirement to obtaining the SportAccord membership is encouraging women to participate. Much like conventional sports, there is a Women’s League and a Men’s League, the IeSF were attempting to conform to those requirements.

My Thoughts

I’m a big proponent of including everyone, but this kind short-sightedness is frustrating to see. On one hand, being exclusive is counter-intuitive, I mean, it’s 2014 and with no physiological differences between the genders for eSports, the point is moot. There’s no reason NOT to include women.

On the other hand, if the rules for gaining credibility with the international sports community, it sounds like they need to fit that mold, as unfortunate as it sounds. I can understand the need to divide the two, if you want colleges and universities to start issuing grants or scholarships for eSports, the IeSF is trying to make that possible.

My personal question lies with, why. Why not just have a male-only, a women-only, and a league that melds both. There’d be some cross-over with players from different leagues, while meeting the ancient guidelines of the SportAccord membership. Then again, why can’t the SportAccord change their tune?


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