“Never stop fighting for what you believe in.”
January 12, 2018 7:43 AM   Subscribe

No Girls Allowed: Dissecting The Gender Divide in Overwatch League [Paste Magazine] “To be honest, I didn’t feel like discussing this. I’m exhausted. At the heart of this issue is the same systemic imbalance seen across many facets of our culture, from academia, to sports, to the arts, to politics: you name it, this problem is there, lurking, poisoning the well. I can write until my fingers cramp and scream until I’m blue in the face, but really, it doesn’t count for anything. If society has yet to listen to all the people before me, then one more little article or opinion won’t solve or change anything. I’m just repeating the knowledge and wisdom of the women who came before me, repackaging it in a way that is palatable to a specific audience in hopes that maybe someone who didn’t get it finally will. I hardly feel as though I’m helping.”

• Women esports players face an uphill battle in Overwatch League [The Daily Dot]
“Overwatch League is the biggest thing in esports right now. Its first season kicked off this week in Los Angeles to much fanfare and solid ratings. But one thing is missing from the league: women. While women aren’t banned from participating in Overwatch League, all 113 players in the league are men. The players are from all around the world, and they’re divided into 12 teams based in major cities in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. It’s not that there aren’t any women who are top-tier Overwatch players. The most notable is Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon, who plays as the pink-haired tank character Zarya. She’s so good that she received accusations of cheating until she did a live-stream with a camera aimed at her hands to prove she really was controlling her character’s every movement. Se-yeon played for a South Korean Overwatch league until it was shut down recently. So why isn’t she—or any woman, for that matter—on an Overwatch League team?”
• The Overwatch League is Missing Something Obvious: Women [Bleeding Cool]
“The Overwatch League might just be the thing to really put eSports on the map of notable sporting events. However, the league is lacking something obvious. Not a single member of any of the Overwatch League teams is female. If you don’t believe me, you can check out the official list of players on the Overwatch League site. Every player has a listing including their game handle, their real name, home town, team affiliation, and even what role they play. It does not include gender. Because if it did, the whole list would just read “male.” I’m not even going to hope for anything more than male/female, because gaming is somewhat slow to accept trans and non-conforming identities. But not one member of the Overwatch League is female. And it isn’t like women don’t play Overwatch. It’s not even like we aren’t good at Overwatch. One of the game’s top pros, and best Zarya player, is a woman. Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon became a big name in Overwatch when she was just 17, and after overcoming a series of cheating allegations back in 2016 she is more popular than ever. But not one team signed her.”
• Where are the women in the Overwatch League? [Heroes Never Die]
“Mobile gaming has become extremely popular with women, potentially acting as a launchpad to the rest of gaming and more competitive experiences. The Wii launched in 2006 and spread like wildfire, entering homes and getting a whole new generation of uninitiated gamers to pick up a controller. There are countless women in North America who had a Wii in their home when they were 8. Ten years later, they are 18, and of an age to enter the Overwatch League. So, where are they? When critics ask where the female Overwatch pros are, the answer is often “Well, name three capable female players”. A lack of response is not a checkmate; it’s a sign that there are systemic issues preventing women from entering the scene. The gaming industry has mastered picking up women and getting them focused in gaming. The esports industry has female writers, press agents, support staff, and other roles. The field of gaming as a whole has never been more accessible; why isn’t that necessarily translating into top tier talent? If esports is a staircase, and the lowest step is “interested in gaming” and the highest plateau is “pro player”, why aren’t more women climbing to the top? Where are the missing stairs?”
• No Overwatch League Team Signed The Game's Most Notable Female Pro To Their Roster [Kotaku]
“Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon became a big name in the Overwatch scene when she was just 17, after she was bombarded with cheating accusations and death threats over her masterful play of pink-haired better-biceps-than-you-haver Zarya. In response to the cheating allegations, she hosted a livestream in which she showed both game footage and her hands on the keyboard and mouse, to prove that she was, in fact, Just That Good. She went on to become the first woman ever to play for a team in South Korea’s then-premiere (and now defunct) APEX league. While Geguri is definitely not the only woman playing Overwatch at the game’s highest levels, she’s currently the most accomplished and well-known in the world of elite esports. Thus, it wasn’t long before members of the press started asking about her—and the complete absence of women players in general—during media day Q&As that were meant to introduce teams’ rosters.”
• Opening day of Overwatch League lived up to the hype [PC Gamer]
“It’s finally here. After $240 million in team franchise fees, a reported $90 million for two years of Twitch streaming exclusivity, logistical issues with players, and at least a ton of rotten eggs thrown at it from naysayers, Overwatch League’s inaugural season is underway. Yesterday, the Blizzard Arena in Burbank opened its doors to a sold out crowd, and once the action concluded for the day, the Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, and Seoul Dynasty each secured their first victories of the season. And it all went really well. [...] Overwatch League introduces local teams to esports, a major change in how we think about players and their teams. The first match of the season between the Los Angeles Valiant and San Francisco Shock gave us a little taste of what’s to come, with many LA fans showing up to support their team. Will home crowds have an impact on teams’ performances like can in traditional sports?”
• Here's When, How, And Where To Watch Overwatch League - Season 1 Stream Schedule [Gamespot]
How and Where: Simply go to overwatchleague.com where live matches play out through an embedded Twitch livestream. Past matches will be archived under the site's Videos tab. You can also catch the matches directly on Twitch.com and at mlg.tv, or through the embed below.

When: Here is the schedule for the first week of the first stage, which runs from January 10 to January 13 (times are in PST).

January 10, Wednesday
4PM - San Francisco Shock versus Los Angeles Valiant
6PM - Shanghai Dragons versus Los Angeles Gladiators
8PM - Dallas Fuel versus Seoul Dynasty

January 11, Thursday
2PM - London Spitfire versus Florida Mayhem
4PM - Philadelphia Fusion versus Houston Outlaws
6PM - Boston Uprising versus New York Excelsior

January 12, Friday
4PM - Los Angeles Valiant versus Dallas Fuel
6PM - Florida Mayhem versus Boston Uprising
8PM - San Francisco Shock versus Shanghai Dragons

January 13, Saturday
11AM - London Spitfire versus Philadelphia Fusion
1PM - New York Excelsior versus Houston Outlaws
3PM - Seoul Dynasty versus Los Angeles Gladiators
posted by Fizz (47 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's maddening to see a whole new e-sport be established and no one to figure out how to have women participants. It's the same thing in League of Legends, I'd hoped Blizzard would do better with OWL. Their game designers really try, honestly, the depiction of female avatars in Overwatch is way more inclusive and enlightened than most games.

I've recommended this in previous discussions: Chess Bitch by Jennifer Shahade is the single best thing I've read about women in chess and seems to have direct analogies to e-sports. The main thing that stuck with me is that the gender imbalance in chess is self-perpetuating; because there are fewer female role models and coaches in chess there are fewer young women players to become mentors in two decades. The exception in chess is the country Georgia, which has a long cultural history of women playing chess and not coincidentally some of the strongest women players in the world.
posted by Nelson at 8:04 AM on January 12 [7 favorites]


It's especially bad as Overwatch has (in my experience) many, many more female players than just about any other AAA game out there.
posted by lattiboy at 8:10 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Yeah, almost every female gamer I know of plays Overwatch at least casually, even the ones who don't generally play FPSes. It's hugely popular with women. That the official league has no women in it is deeply suspicious.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:16 AM on January 12 [22 favorites]


Because it's not just about the avatars or the gameplay design, it's about the community. From the get-go, all the assholes and enablers, the active and passive contributors to a hostile, SWM-only culture followed Blizzard into Overwatch. I used to play TF2, for instance, and I know for a fact a lot of people jumped ship for OW. Not only direct harassment but also derogatory comments about minority groups and a general attitude of "if you complain then you're ~creating drama~"/"if you can't handle it than stfu"; not only in-game but also in forums and in competition. In a team game, team chemistry is vital to competing at the top levels, and if there's a lot of assholes in the candidate pool -- or even Schroedinger's Bigot, say -- that's already a major obstacle.

Add money and exposure into the picture and things get even more cutthroat, especially given the tendency of male ~gamers~ to go after high-profile targets that attract their ire -- no prizes for guessing who disproportionately draws said ire.

I will note that TF2 had two major competitive formats, and the one with the money and the prestige had -- surprise surprise -- basically no women at the top levels. The format that was less fawned-over and had less prize money, on the other hand, had several -- nowhere near the point of equality, but several.
posted by inconstant at 8:16 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


12 Teams. 113 Men. 0 Women. 400,000 people tuned in to Twitch to watch the first night.

Let those numbers sink in.

I know I've posted about this subject a few times in the past, but I felt like it was worth drawing attention to. It's disturbing. Not shocking I guess considering what we know about the community, but ugh.
posted by Fizz at 8:27 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


Science confirms what's blindingly obvious about the problem with the gender divide in online gaming: Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour (PLOS One)
We hypothesised that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status. To test this hypothesis, we used an online first-person shooter video game that removes signals of dominance but provides information on gender, individual performance, and skill. We show that lower-skilled players were more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when performing poorly. In contrast, lower-skilled players behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario. This difference in gender-directed behaviour became more extreme with poorer focal-player performance. We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena.
In the case of e-sports, I'd further hypothesize that the male audience comprises a significant number of mediocre players who have just this shitty kind of attitude and whose vicarious thrill of watching better players on e-sports is disrupted and threatened when those players are female. The e-sports organizers are, if not catering to this group, certainly appeasing it.

Oh, and the PLOS One study used Halo 3, the bro-iest online FPS out there.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:33 AM on January 12 [35 favorites]


I too am exhausted. Between this, the media shit men list thing, and Natalie Portman's fine introduction to the Best Director category ("Here are the all men nominees") I'm just so damn tired.

But I think it's because I'm now awake that I'm tired. Whereas I think I used to have a passive complacency about the state of our place in the world because that was Just How It Is. But now I'm awake and I'm mad but damn I'm tired.

I recently watched Battle of the Sexes on a plane. Is there any potential for women to just league up themselves?
posted by like_neon at 8:46 AM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I recently watched Battle of the Sexes on a plane. Is there any potential for women to just league up themselves?

First off. That was a great movie, it's weird that it's not being talked about more (but I don't want to get into a whole derail about that).

Secondly, yes. That'd be awesome if women just created their own Overwatch Professional League. I'd watch for sure. I'd even pay to get that privilege. Take my money.
posted by Fizz at 8:49 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


We hypothesised that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status.

Holly Green who wrote the Paste Magazine article in the primary link says pretty much the exact same thing:
“I wasn’t allowed to be a collaborator, just an admirer. What should, and would, have been a social equalizer instead became a threat, because they didn’t want me to be equal. The power balance was threatening unless it was in their favor.
Not that you'd have to tell any woman this very obvious thing about how men in all kinds of field react when they feel as if power is being taken away from them.
posted by Fizz at 9:05 AM on January 12 [7 favorites]


12 Teams. 113 Men. 0 Women. 400,000 people tuned in to Twitch to watch the first night.

I had no interest in watching live but I am eagerly devouring every single compilation video in existence of xqc getting his ass handed to him over and over and over again.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:15 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


I'd hoped Blizzard would do better with OWL.

Well, Blizzard Entertainment is based in Irvine, which is in Orange County.
posted by FJT at 9:30 AM on January 12


Is there any potential for women to just league up themselves?

No. You'd need authorization from Blizzard to run the league.

Under license limitations:

“esports”: Use the Platform for any esports or group competition sponsored, promoted or facilitated by any commercial or non-profit entity without obtaining additional authorization from Blizzard or obtaining Blizzard’s prior written consent. For more information on obtaining appropriate authorization, please visit Blizzard’s website.

And you would be directly competing with Blizzard's own league. And because Overwatch requires connecting to Blizzard servers, it becomes trivial for them to cut you off. One of the reasons they moved to online only games was to prevent people from setting their own tournaments and leagues without giving Blizzard a cut, a point of contention for Starcraft I in Korea.

From what I've heard you need approval for anything above $10,000 in prizes.
posted by zabuni at 9:38 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Another problem with a women-only league is that it codifies and solidifies the second-class status of women in the sport. This is another big debate that Chess has already had (and has continued to have for years). There is a women's world champion and there is a world champion, and they are different people. Judit Polgar is one of the biggest names fighting back; she refused to accept the title of women's world champion, insisting on competing on an even footing against men instead (her sister Susan didn't take the same stand and did hold that title for a bit. Their family story is fascinating). If the goal is eventual parity / equality, then it's definitely not as easy as just forming their own, "separate but equal" championship.
posted by dbx at 9:46 AM on January 12 [15 favorites]


Anyone else remember the brouhaha over Jackie Lee in Magic: The Gathering?

This is just more of the same shit.
posted by xyzzy at 10:57 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I watched the opening night. It was a very solid esports production, that featured a poster of Pepe and almost no estrogen. Next season, it'd be neat to see someone back a ladyteam outright. People are throwing a lot of money at this venture, so fans and spectators should keep speaking up to see more basic representation. It's very much Blizzard's commercial product sandbox, though.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 11:12 AM on January 12


A lot of handwringing without so much as offered solutions. Here's mine:

Institute quotas. Teams of six. Require at minimum nine x chromosomes for any particular team composition.

I've played on a lot intramural teams; it's always way more fun, and it is just as competitive.

I mean, granted, it will probably alienate the entire competitive scene and dilute the end-product, but I would argue that this short-term loss will be offset by the long-term gains. Blizzard already has a reputation for being an industry leader in gender dynamics, and a move like this would serve to greatly expand a foothold in their empire. This would also fall right into Jeff Kaplan's (creator of Overwatch) ethos to expand gamer diversity. (It could also function to "stick it" to the whole GamerGate crowd.)

Is Blizzard willing to step up to the plate?

Side note: of all 113 tournament players, none of them are black. I'm imagining my solution to extend to "melanin quotas" but now we're wading into dangerous, race purity discussions.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:28 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


> lattiboy:
"It's especially bad as Overwatch has (in my experience) many, many more female players than just about any other AAA game out there."

> tobascodagama:
"Yeah, almost every female gamer I know of plays Overwatch at least casually, even the ones who don't generally play FPSes. It's hugely popular with women. That the official league has no women in it is deeply suspicious."

Yeah, when voice chat is used, I have noticed a lot of female players (which is awesome) and numerous text messages that they are using a boyfriend's account (which is also awesome, but it wouldn't work for me. No one but ME mangles my stats!), but I hadn't looked at the League much at all other than to get my free 100 tokens.

I don't do livestreamed stuff much as my internet connection is right on the edge of being useless for streaming and my computer is the core of entertainment in my apartment, and I would much rather do interactive stuff than watch people do interactive stuff.
posted by Samizdata at 11:32 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


> Fizz:
"I recently watched Battle of the Sexes on a plane. Is there any potential for women to just league up themselves?

First off. That was a great movie, it's weird that it's not being talked about more (but I don't want to get into a whole derail about that).

Secondly, yes. That'd be awesome if women just created their own Overwatch Professional League. I'd watch for sure. I'd even pay to get that privilege. Take my money."


I would try to watch if it was on a decent platform that deals with lower bandwidth. And if I had money, I would pay to do so.
posted by Samizdata at 11:34 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Now that I think about it, there's a similar problem in Hearthstone right now. They're having a big championship soon, and part of their promotion is encouraging people to choose a 'champion' - one of the finalists in the competition. I went into the process intending to use the same strategy I use in elections: first look for minority women, then women, then minorities, who I am comfortable backing. Not possible, no women. It's crazy!
posted by dbx at 11:34 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


> xyzzy:
"Anyone else remember the brouhaha over Jackie Lee in Magic: The Gathering?

This is just more of the same shit."


I never heard about that. (But, no surprise there. The terribly designed "rules by accretion" nature and synthetic economy nature of Magic drove me away a long time ago.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:37 AM on January 12


Institute quotas. Teams of six. Require at minimum nine x chromosomes for any particular team composition.

this isn't what determines gender, and at least 2 of the top female players are trans.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:41 AM on January 12 [26 favorites]


this isn't what determines gender, and at least 2 of the top female players are trans.

Fair enough. Then institute a rule that at least 50% of the team identify as female/trans/non-binary/fluid/queer...basically only half the team is allowed to identify as straight cis-gendered male.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:49 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Despit being a trans woman I kinda like making a team makeup requirement based on “minimum number of X chromosomes” because I want to see someone try to get around the intent of “put some fucking ladies on your teem geez” by fielding one made up largely of bad-ass trans dudes.

Not that I ever play the kinds of games that become e-sports, or watch e-sports.
posted by egypturnash at 11:56 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see a different version of quotas - your org should reflect, to a reasonable degree, the makeup up the general population. If you have 100 people then about 50 of them should be not male, about 40 should be non-white, etc and if it doesn't you need to show why.
posted by caphector at 12:02 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see a different version of quotas - your org should reflect, to a reasonable degree, the makeup up the general population. If you have 100 people then about 50 of them should be not male, about 40 should be non-white, etc and if it doesn't you need to show why.

General population where--audience? Players? Country of team? Percentages will vary between Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons, London Spitfire, and... all the American teams.
posted by anem0ne at 12:06 PM on January 12


Which, if you're also looking at the diversity of the rosters from an ethnic point of view, it's a bit strange. London, New York, and Seoul are entirely Korean; with the exception of Shanghai (all Chinese), only Florida and Houston have no Koreans.

Yes, it's a bit problematic, but there's also just a difference in skill at the moment--Korean players seem to be at the top of the rankings and in the Overwatch World Cup the Korean national team has been rather dominant/undefeated since it started in 2016.
posted by anem0ne at 12:11 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Always the same bullshit excuse: "Now's not the time for a woman as president, pro-gamer, etc." If not now, when ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:12 PM on January 12


> If not now, when ?

Soon (tm)
posted by I-Write-Essays at 12:17 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


Overall, I will say while I'm not opposed to quotas, I'm very wary of quotas (which I fully admit collides directly with my ambivalence in how it operates for Asian-Americans in other environments, and it's noticeable too in just the issues arising from trying to codify them here); it's further complicated by the fact that OWL is still very new and they're trying to figure things out (note that they're all playing out of LA at the moment, since there are no home arenas in other cities; also note that they all have very different roster sizes; then there's also simple monetization).

That said, Geguri not being hired (should she so choose to play) is, frankly, disgustingly disappointing, especially because she would not have had any language issues with 3 teams, and 7 more would have been able to communicate fairly well--and, unlike the other teenaged/young adult male Korean players, she has no compulsory military service that would interrupt her prime playing career.

On preview, I'd like to add this is this: apparently Geguri does not want to be used as an example here.

In terms of pressure, I think very much it should come from outside and inside--Blizzard and Kaplan should be very vocal about hiring it, Amazon/Twitch should give teams with women higher priority, the commentators should show a balance between men and women and also press for it... and also all comments/chats should be moderated and shut the fuck down because fuck the whinging of mediocre men.

Actually, just take away voice chat from male players wholesale. A quick search shows that male players are the worst.
posted by anem0ne at 12:28 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


IMO, voice chat should be straight-up banned outside competitive environments. Any time a game adds built-in voice chat, I side-eye it and strongly consider playing something else. There's no PUG I've ever played where voice chat added to the experience.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:35 PM on January 12


Re: Geguri: What, you mean someone in a community that values rolling with the punches and not making a fuss doesn't want to have a target painted on her back for every asshole in the gaming world and all of their reactionary buddies as well, especially after already having borne backlash from their ilk? What a shocker.

Meanwhile that linked thread is clogged up with insightful commentary such as ~obviously feminists are just trying to force women into roles they don't want~.
IMO, voice chat should be straight-up banned outside competitive environments. Any time a game adds built-in voice chat, I side-eye it and strongly consider playing something else. There's no PUG I've ever played where voice chat added to the experience.
Team vs. team games are competitive environments. I wanted to coordinate with my teammates, discuss strategy, alert and be alerted to in-the-moment tactical information. It wasn't the technology of voice chat that drove me away from team shooters, it was the people -- who are, after all, equally capable of being assholes in text chat, with their choice of display name, or with their custom spray.
posted by inconstant at 12:37 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


And offloading the technical side to TS or Mumble or Discord or whatever doesn't actually solve the issue. It just means that people will go be assholes there instead, and people who want to participate in that side of things will stay stuck between a rock and a hard place.
posted by inconstant at 12:40 PM on January 12


Lack of voice chat never stopped people from spending the entire game typing in League of Legends.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 12:41 PM on January 12


League of Legends has had a weird variant of quotas to protect diversity of regions. Globally, pro LoL is dominated by Korean players first, then Chinese players, with North American and Europeans a distant third. There's been some good stuff written on why which I'm too lazy to look up, but it basically boils down to Koreans taking video games more seriously and training harder from a younger age.

A couple years ago a bunch of Korean and Chinese talent got smart and realized they could come to the US and Europe to play, where the competition was less crowded. LMQ came to North America whole-sale, a full Chinese team playing in NA. Also a bunch of individual players came to join existing NA and European teams. At some point it looked like there may not be any more room for North American players in the North American league. So Riot instituted a Interregional Movement Policy which basically boils down to "only 2 of your 5 players can be imports". It seems to sort of work but reinforces how North America and Europe are the weaker leagues.

What's really interesting in this system is people who can work a bit across regional boundaries. North American players who speak Korean are particularly valuable to communicate with the Korean import players on the NA teams.

As I mentioned above there are almost no women in pro LoL. There was Remi in NA, but she quit after a losing season and some ugliness with contracts and payments. There have been a couple of all-women teams but unfortunately they seem more like sexist marketing gimmicks than serious competitive teams.
posted by Nelson at 12:45 PM on January 12


Lack of voice chat never stopped people from spending the entire game typing in League of Legends.

I have terrible memories of that too. Ugh. I didn't mean for chat of any sort to be a derail here.

What, you mean someone in a community that values rolling with the punches and not making a fuss doesn't want to have a target painted on her back for every asshole in the gaming world and all of their reactionary buddies as well, especially after already having borne backlash from their ilk? What a shocker.

Yeah, especially since she's (and others) have faced it for a long while.

Gaming does have a very toxic sexist problem.
posted by anem0ne at 12:47 PM on January 12


That text chat is also bad doesn't mean that voice chat isn't a thousand times worse. If nothing else, there's at least a veneer of anonymity that can let female players blend into the background instead of standing out as targets.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:49 PM on January 12


It's a thousand times worse because people are bad, not because the spoken word as a form of communication is bad. My rock-solid "veneer of anonymity" on gaming forums protected me only from direct targeted harassment. "Just mute voice chat" is a dismissal, not a solution, on the player side -- and I don't think it's much of a solution on the dev side either.
posted by inconstant at 12:55 PM on January 12



It's not e-sports but I do think we're at the point of calling it professional gaming and a subset of 'gamers'. Last night over 100,000 people watched a live D&D game. It was the start of a brand new campaign for the show Critical Role. This is absolutely astounding for a game of this type.
Three of the players are women. This show and the community that has grown up around it and is spreading out like gangbusters is super supportive of diversity of all types of people.

I'm more confident now that this past year has not just been some anomoly or fluke of chance of getting together with the good sorts of people in this corner of online gaming world. It has been random group, after group, after group of still majority men but with virtually no gender/sexist BS. It's the first time that I've ever been able to consistently play online without having to worry or be on the lookout. It's also amazing to be able to play and feel like more people have my back if shyte does happen. And it gets even more fascinating because many of these people also play games like Overwatch and talk about bs like this.

The game is still majority male and bs still does happen but the percentage of coming across it seems to be changing. The percetage of bs people called out seems way higher than it has been. I still am metaphorically pinching myself and waiting to wake up from dream.

I'm about to start dming two campaigns formed from groups of people who like this show and other like it. Majority male still. But what is so different from a couple of decades of playing is that they are all totally stoked not only to be able to play but that I'm a woman. It's stoke in a sincere and not gross or patronizing way. And many actually know and talk about other semi-celebrity female GMS. This has not been the norm in my past experience and it's wild.

I'm still wary that I've accidently fallen into some sort of anomoly because it's so, so different.
posted by Jalliah at 12:56 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I don't think banning voice chat solves any problems by itself. But I do think it's inclusion is a net negative for every game that has it.

And, frankly, I'd be fine with removing text chat as well. Force everybody to use in-game commo roses and pre-baked voice lines.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:52 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


This is the very worst way to write this: go "interview" 10 men about why 1 specific woman did not get invited to the OWL and only talk about gender issues, against her specific wishes. This is exactly the point - she enjoys the game and wants to be known for her skill. She even clarifies that she was accused of hacking because of a camera glitch in the game that made it look like she was actually hacking, not because of her gender.

The discussion should have centered around her previous competitive performance in Apex (her team lost all their matches - what does she think could have been done better, what worked, what didn't?).

What about her relevance and breadth of skill - the vast majority of her playtime was on Zarya, which is what she was famous for, with Roadhog a distant second, but the current competitive meta is D'Va / Winston focused. In their Apex games, she played D'Va almost every match, only switching to Zarya as a hail-mary move in the last push of the match to try mix things up. (it didn't work).

I'd be curious to know what she thinks about her D'Va play compared to other tanks? How, would, theoretically, a Zarya based team be able to compete in the current environment? (many people think it can't). She would need a team building their strategy entirely around her. As of right now, D.Va has a 93% pick rate, while Zarya has a 5% pick rate. So she's playing D'Va almost exclusively nowadays on her stream - applying herself to learning the hero, just the same as she did on Zarya for all those years.

In Chess, at least, you have an objective metric (the top 100 Chess players are 99 male and 1 female, do the 99 men "deserve" to be ranked there over the other women?). There's more debate fodder and ad impressions to be had in OWL because in a team game there's no way to objectively rank players: you could use personal overwatch rankings but many top players aren't invited to OWL anyway, regardless of gender.

As for tournaments, I hate the idea of quotas, but let's just build gender directly into the game format - I actually like mixed doubles in badminton or tennis where the format is one male + one female per team. A mixed team format in OWL - 3 men + 3 women - would be ideal. No one is disputing 2 men would beat a mixed double in badminton or tennis, but that's simply not the way the format is set out - it's up to each team to configure their strategies to beat the game. It's not about men vs women, it's about how we work together to win the game.
posted by xdvesper at 3:54 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


As for tournaments, I hate the idea of quotas, but let's just build gender directly into the game format

I mean, I don't see how that isn't literally the definition of a quota? But who cares, it's probably the only way to get any sort of major gender diversity in professional gaming. I play a lot of games... like a lot... and I don't see any other way to do it.
posted by Justinian at 8:10 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I mean, I don't see how that isn't literally the definition of a quota? But who cares, it's probably the only way to get any sort of major gender diversity in professional gaming. I play a lot of games... like a lot... and I don't see any other way to do it.

I originally threw out this idea, but I don't see any real value in its implementation. Primarily because a merit/skill-based competition becomes compromised in favor of representation. Noble, but too idealistic; the target audience of these live events trend toward a more hardcore, competitive demographic, and it would come across insulting to compromise the end-product. (Likewise, those minorities would want to distance themselves from the spectre of special attention.) It effectively denigrates the spirit of competition.

Sure, it's just kids playing games on a screen. But then basketball is just putting a ball through a hoop, and track is just running around in circles. But then there's millions of dollars at stake.

Convince the fanbase why equal representation is more compelling than top tier competitive play, and make up for the lost revenue, and it's got a fighting chance.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 10:00 PM on January 12


I watched some OWL last night and it was sort of entertaining. I still prefer watching LoL. Blizzard has done one tiny thing better than LoL though; they have a couple of women analysts on screen. See the talent here. That only shows one woman, but I'm pretty sure there was a second in the broadcast I watched yesterday.

The bar here is pretty low. North American LoL manages exactly zero women on screen either casting or providing commentary between games. European LoL has one woman, the awesome Sjokz, but she's in a hostess role and doesn't talk about the game itself. Froskurinn is the other woman with high visibility in LoL; she casts in English for the Chinese LPL league and is super hard core about the game itself, but the Chinese league doesn't get a lot of American viewership.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on January 13


Convince the fanbase why equal representation is more compelling than top tier competitive play, and make up for the lost revenue, and it's got a fighting chance.

We already do this in League of Legends, arguably the most successful e-sports circuit in the world. There are effectively "quotas" that guarantee representation for each of the major regions in the world. It's not 100% merit based, because there is value in having everyone be represented in the sport.

For clarity - for League of Legends, you have 16 teams competing at Worlds, of which 3 are from Korea, 2 from China, 2 from Europe, 2 from North America, 2 from Taiwan, 1 from SEA, and 4 are "wildcards" who play-in if they couldn't get seeded in via their region or don't have a region league to begin with.

This prevents something like, say, GSL, where of the top 64 players in the world competing in it something like 60 are Koreans.
posted by xdvesper at 11:46 PM on January 13


Tge e-sports organizers are, if not catering to this group, certainly appeasing it.

Or they're members of it. That's my hypothesis.
posted by Dysk at 3:34 AM on January 22


Sources: Geguri set to join Shanghai Dragons, become Overwatch League's first female player. Part of a bigger shakeup of the Shanghai Dragons roster. That team is at the absolute bottom of the league with a 0-10 record right now. The rumors about Geguri started being reported a few days ago, still no confirmation.

(Also wanted to note Riot added a woman to the NA League of Legends pro casts. Ovilee. She's been around for about a year but is now a weekly regular. Like Sjokz she's more of a hostess than a caster / analyst, it's not exactly gender parity, but it is a step forward. Linked video is from when she joined Yahoo eSports a year ago; not her new job.)
posted by Nelson at 9:43 AM on February 10




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