In the 2015 North American League of Legends Challenger Series, we saw the first ever female pro gamer make it to the finals of the LCS. But because of the harassment she’s faced, she questions if she’ll stay playing in the LCS or move on. Her team went on to win the LCS 2015 Challenger Series.
She did go on to start playing the 2016 season of League of Legends, but stepped down from the main roster of the Renegades on Feb 5.
The majority of the players at tournaments are males, leaving female gamers out of the spotlight in big tournaments, like League of Legends and DOTA. Very rarely do we see a female gamer on stage with the guys, or even a whole team of girls on the stage competing.
Gamers started making a living off of video game tournaments in the 2000s. Major League Gaming (MLG) launched in 2002, starting the trend of eSports being aired on television.
Even though more women own gaming consoles, why are there not more successful female gamers who make it to the grand stage in the finals of a tournament?
Simple. The video game industry is still geared more towards the male audience. Even companies that invest in eSports, like Intel and Coca-Cola, and marketing strategies are geared more towards the male audience.
Video games provide a platform for equality among males and females, yet female gamers face more discrimination and sexual harassment compared to the males. They are viewed as more “novelty rather than viable contenders in tournaments“.
Former professional gamer Lilian Chen talked about her experience within the Smash community. In her TED article, she talked about how she was treated as a female gamer. After leaving the pro gaming circuit, she wrote a blog post talking about how women are treated, often being asked to either prove that they are a gamer or being disrespected and hearing someone tell her to get good then she’ll be respected. Chen brings up arguments against these, saying that male gamers are not asked to prove themselves and argues that everyone no matter skill level should be respected. The post ended up going viral two days later.
Because of the harassment that female gamers typically receive, it makes it hard for professional female gamers to make any mark in the eSports arena. Some even ask for their face not to be shown because they know they’ll receive harassment just because of their gender.
Gaming has taken strides to desexualize many of their main female characters, but the attitude towards the female gamer has not changed. There is untapped potential talent in many of the female gamers, but as long as the stereotypes and the ideal of the gaming industry as a male industry exist, the current and future professional female gamers will have a hard time making their mark and leaving a legacy for future generations to follow.
If you follow professional gaming, or just a casual gamer, support everyone who wants to play. Video games are an equal medium that is created for everyone and if we as fans of gaming start to treat everyone fairly and not harass people and stereotype them by their gender, the competitive field can start to open up to the female gamers because the rest of the community treats females just like the males. With respect and fairness.