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.
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.
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.