Girls in eSports?

League of Legends is one of the most played games in the eSports arena.  It’s a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game that is inspired by DOTA, a Warcraft 3 Mod.  Most players are male, but there is still a good amount of girls interested in the game as well.  With this said, here’s a video that was released to introduce the “first” professional all-girl League of Legends team.  I have heard there was an all female team in China, so I am not sure how accurate the “first” part really is.  So, we shall start at the beginning, with this video:

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My reactions to the video were a bit mixed.  As a League of Legends player myself none of the information they pointed out was a big surprise.  All of the championship games that I’ve watched were of teams that were all male, I already knew this.  There are, of course, a few exceptions that may have one girl on the team.  However, the biggest names that are in at the top competitive global level are typically all male.  The video claims that only 10% of the player base is female, but I am not sure how they collect that data.  There is no place in the game where I have entered my gender.  But, let’s take that statistic at face value.  This means that there’s a 9:1 chance of a LoL player being male.  Logically, it just makes sense that women would be the minority in all aspects of the game.  Since entries and trials are based on who has the skills and time to participate, I don’t feel as though any of this is a systemic issue of discrimination.

Gender was a huge focus of their marketing angle though.  Making history, breaking the glass, rising above the stereotypes.  This message can be empowering, polarizing or neutral.  Some might look at this and get excited for this team paving the way for them to enter this world.  Others might even be excited to try the game if they see other girls playing on this level.  Some people, however, will react in a negative way saying that they are somehow a gimmick.  And some, like me, just think it’s not very important information to the question at hand.  Are they Gosu?

This videos’ purpose was to garner attention and gather a fanbase.  From that perspective it’s doing the job intended because people are talking about it.  Good for them for getting their names out there.  If they win, sure that would be cool, but I don’t have a reason to root for them solely because we share a gender.   Typically I am pulling for the team whose guides I use the most.  I get a lot of information from “Xpecial” so I’m typically pulling for Team Solo Mid.  In regards to the gender of Team Siren,  I don’t think that they necessarily should or should not mention their gender, but it’s really not important to the matters at hand.  This is not a physical sport, there are no reasons that gender should be impressive here.  If an all female team started playing in the NFL, perhaps that would be a much more astonishing feat.  I just think of it this way, if you replaced gender with race and someone made a video discussing that their team was all X race that and they are the first team that is… well, who cares?   It’s more just one of those “fun fact” type of things.

Current #1 team, TPA, has a girl featured front and center in promo shots, despite the fact that she is a substitute player that hardly plays.

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.

I feel as though this statement is based entirely on the assumption of the author.  Some women dress more “revealing” than others.  At work, school, home, out with friends, etc.  I’m sure this is also true of the types of clothes worn when sitting at home.  This girl may have a personality that is more lighthearted and whimsical, which often is mistook for “ditziness”.   Are these things inherently wrong?  No.  Are these things absolutely done only for the males on the other end of the interaction?  No.  Women dress and act as they like because this is their choice.  Later the author accuses some of the men watching their game streams of these girls to only be watching because there’s a pretty lady on the screen.  Is that somehow this players problem?  Absolutely not.  If a male decides to observe a pretty girl playing a video game, that’s their choice.  A girl should be able to play a game that she wants on HER terms.  Commenting on their appearance as some sort of “trick” is misogyny in itself.

A promotional shot of Team Solo Mid with top of the line gaming glasses and quite serious faces. (Source: Origin Gaming)

The idea that appearance is a female-only concept in eSports is absurd.  In promotional shots you have men with fresh haircuts, stylish glasses, and even hair gel!  They are made to look their best, and often the angles in the photos are classic “hero shot” poses meant to make people look more intimidating.  Just because makeup is a visible sign that you are altering your appearance doesn’t mean it’s much worse that any other primping.  The reason that this happens is because to us, these teams are comprised of gamers that we look up to.  We watch these players streams, read their guides and follow their career.   People want the person they admire to be match up with the hero persona they have built up for them.  I am not in any way endorsing that looks should affect who plays and who does not.  My point is merely that people liking to look their best for pictures or streams isn’t a negative, nor is it gender restricted.

At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is the skills of the player.  If the video is correct these girls are Diamond and Platinum level players.  That’s pretty awesome.  I would absolutely love to be an active female player on a team that wins the championships.  It would be even cooler if I was the first.  I have neither the time nor the skills to get there though.  The presence of girls in the eSports circuit should be based entirely on merit, and as long as that’s consistent the disparity is not a problem.

6 Replies to “Girls in eSports?”

  1. So, I’m a girl who was in the top raiding team in WoW for a while, and one of the top 2v2 teams. In WoW it’s a little different because healing is basically made for chicks, but still – I found the amount of girls lacking. When you’re talking end of game progression, and some of the hardest things that exist out there, you’re talking less than 1% of the people playing are girls. And half of that 1% is actually being carried by a boyfriend.

    One of the things that I noticed that really pissed me off when I was playing that when people found out what I looked like, I was automatically assumed to be in the second category, someone who got carried by a boyfriend to the top. Apparently, it turns out, the only good girl gamers are ‘unattractive’. If you are attractive with a bubbly personality like I am – you can not possibly be good at games. It got to the point where I actually faced active harassment on the game for my looks and ended up leaving the game.

    So if these girls are attractive, with a bubbly personality and kicking the guys asses up and down? Go get ’em. I’ll totally be rooting for you.

    1. That’s a weird experience, I luckily did not have that in WoW. I never did PVP, but I was in an end game raiding guild. My guild could give a flip what I looked like, all we cared about was downing bosses.

      Sorry to hear you had that happen to you. It’s super annoying.

      Back when I played Counter Strike and Team Fortress Classic I would just tell people I was 10 years old on voice chat so they thought I was a pre-pubescent boy rather than listen to them say random stuff about me being a girl. People shouldn’t have to hide like that :

      1. For my raiding, this wasn’t the case – but it definitely was in PVP. I think it’s natural in PVP though because it’s highly competitive in nature. I was a disc priest and my partner was a warlock, so we were pretty unstoppable based on self healing for both of us. Most of the crappy comments came from other 2v2 teams – so I would assume that anything that’s competitive like that, instead of being group oriented like raiding, would have the same results.

    2. I was in top raiding guilds for most of my WoW career. The guild that I
      was in for the longest (Roll Initiative with Kalim up there) always had a
      healthy amount of female raiders. Personally I felt they ran the same
      gamut between amazing to bad and cool to annoying that everyone fell
      into. I don’t think we ever had an issue correlate between how a girl
      looked and how they were treated, most people didn’t care.

      As for the video, I agree, 5 girls is nice and all…but can they compete
      and make an impact at the pro level is what is ultimately going to

      On a side note id say that while healing might be an appealing choice for chicks id argue against “healing is basically made for chicks”. A higher % of healers are female but most are still male. I always enjoyed healing and tanking the most, something very satisfying about saving the day, even when a lot of the time it goes unnoticed. In league it’s the same way, I prefer the support/tank/utility roles most of the time.

      1. Yeah, when I was starting a character I picked a Druid because I was mainly Night Elf in WC3 and Druid of the claw was awesome. Since a healer was needed at the time, I went resto. Then the whole “Druid Healers are all girls” thing came out, and I hated it. I knew a female rogues, tanks, etc.

  2. I really liked Melissa De Tora (winningest magic: the gathering female to date) in terms of professional gamers who happen to be women. She was basically geeky and awkward like most of the guys when she got interviewed by wotc, and then instead of making a show of being female she just let her skill do the talking, played like a pro, and made a pile of money. Seemed to be the right way to do it imo. E-sports is clearly a bit different phenomenon, since they go further out of their way to market it for TV, but either way, blatant gender discrimination can be obnoxious – intentionally branding a bunch of girls as bubbly and cute is – like you said – like branding the korean team as being math wizards. It’s like “wtf, just let them impress us with their play, and let them be themselves”.

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