We’ve often decried the MSSA’s backwards mentality when it comes to eSports, in that it segregates men and women. This is patently, and inherently stupid as whatever physical differences exist between genders are rendered moot by videogames. Whenever they’ve been taken to task over this, they’ve always pointed the finger at the IeSF. Now that organisation is in trouble over the same thing… and they’ve got nowhere to point fingers. Thankfully though, things are changing.
A recent entry form for a Hearthstone qualifier showed the organisation’s blatant gender biases, by stating that the tournament was open to males only.
This is ridiculous. In a statement given to PCGamer, the information was deemed correct.
“Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only,” said Markus “Olodyn” Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier. “In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”
According to the IeSF, Hearthstone is not a game for girls, and this backwards thinking applies to other games. Looking at the list of games in the newest IeSF tournament, here’s what games are available to the two prescribed genders.
- Male Competition: Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Ultra Street Fighter IV
- Female Competition: Starcraft 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2
It rather implies that Street Fighter is for men, while Tekken is for girls. Girls are also incapable of grasping the finer nuances of Dota…obviously. But why this division in eSports? According to the IeSF itself, it’s all because they’re trying to legitimise eSports by adhering to patriarchal, centuries old dogma.
“The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.”
The thing is that eSports was born free of this backwards thinking, and trying to adhere to old sporting codes is shoving it right back in there. Our friend, Nag writer Miktar summed it up best.
Digital Sports is not some archaic institution mired in hundreds of years of tradition. It was born free of that shit. Don’t bring it back.
— Miktar (@Miktar) July 2, 2014
It’s gotten a lot of attention… enough so that the IeSF has now…sort of…overturned its position, for the sake of gender equality. Here’s what they said in a new statement.
On 2nd of July, 2014, the IeSF’s policy about gender division, which separates the female division and the male division, has been brought into question. The IeSF has listened to the gaming community and has carefully considered their opinions. Upon hearing these concerns, the IeSF convoked an emergency session of the IeSF Board to respond.
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.
The IeSF Board addressed its reason for maintaining events for women, citing the importance of providing female gamers with ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports—currently a male-dominated industry. Female gamers make up half of the world’s gaming population, but only a small percentage of e-Sports competitors are women. The IeSF’s female-only competitions aim to bring more diversity to competitive play by improving the representation of women at these events. Without efforts to improve representation, e-Sports can’t achieve true gender equality.
Now that the IeSF has changed its stance, let’s hope that the MSSA follows suit. Men and women are still competing separately, but at least they’re playing the same games. Baby steps.