GZ Roundtable: Weighing in on IeSF opening male-only tournaments to all genders
During Finland's Assembly Summer 2014, a particular rule for the Hearthstone qualifier caught the eye of gamers. A rule stating that "the participation is open only to Finnish male players." This one line of text quickly became a controversy. The federation behind the rule, International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), quickly reversed its position on the rule and opened up the male-only tournament to female players as well.
While they opened up the male-only tournament to be all inclusive, they are still upholding the female-only tournament. The question we are asking is this: How do you feel about IeSF opening male-only tournaments to all genders?
It's a problem in that it limits the progression and status of Hearthstone, esports and the medium, video games, as a whole. Tournament organizers claim that the gender line is necessary to align with conventional sports. However, seeing as how Hearthstone is a game of strategy and deductive reasoning, not physical prowess—the reason for male and female leagues in -ball sports—all the division does is reinforce the nagging stigma that video games are "boys-only." It actively contradicts the competitive spirit of such tournaments, sends a false message that women aren't welcome in the industry, and shoe-horns esports into the same hole as conventional athletics despite their potential to reach far beyond them.
Esports allow players to interact and compete on a uniquely level playing field, so by matching the polarized traditions of conventional sports—which, again, only make sense for physiological reasons—they're just dumbing themselves down. The alleged reasoning behind it is a farce, and the IeSF's most recent decision to allow "open for all" and "women-only" tournaments only pours salt on the wound. Great, men and women get to compete in the same tournaments now. Regardless, having a woman-only ring still draws a baseless, insulting arrow to all female gamers that reads "be nice to her, she's a girl." Equality is not equal parts praise and derision; it's the absence of both, because neither feels necessary. Neither is necessary, and if the IeSF wanted to engender true equality, there would only be one tournament: "open for all."
Andrew Clouther Follow on Twitter
This whole ordeal will never please everyone. There are basically two ways to view it. Having a separate women’s tournament offers a healthy environment for female gamers to compete without obnoxious male chauvinistic harassment. This allows women to compete more comfortably without toxic backlash. On the other side of this, is that having a mixed tournament and women’s tournament play down to a woman’s skill. It’s practically saying “you can compete in the real tournament or the women’s one.” That way of thinking doesn’t spark equality at all.
In my personal view, I’m tired of the comparisons between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ sports. In my eyes a sport is a sport, and eSports are sports. The Olympics are a worldwide competition of the best in the world and even it is mostly split with genders; but then you have couples figure skating. Then again, softball was basically removed from the Olympics because a single team always won, so it wasn’t competitive, interesting, or fun. I believe in the spirit of competition and the human spirit but if you honestly can never win, it’s incredibly frustrating. What I’m getting at is that this is going to remain a gray area. Having a mixed league and women’s only league may not seem perfect, but giving players options is about the best you can offer them.
Lance Liebl Follow on Twitter
Okay. So there's the mixed gender tournament and the female-only tournament. Even with the female-only tournament and mixed tournament, I bet there's still more male participants there. I'm not a woman, so I don't have strong opinions on this, but if there's a female-only tournament so that they get more representation or because they don't want to deal with sexist male gamers, then fine -- have it. But there should also be a male-only tournament for those male gamers that don't want to lose to a woman and then be ridiculed by other male gamers. Or what about men that get shy and nervous and can't perform around women, like Raj from Big Bang Theory? I guess my main question is this: can transgenders enter the female-only tournament?
Tatiana Morris Follow on Twitter
It's as simple as this: the inclusion of females in previously male-only tournaments is a step forward in the eSports world. Upholding the female-only tournament open is denigrating towards females. You might be wondering why this is the case - the answer is simple. Maintaining the female-only division doesn't represent the equality ISeF was looking for. If there is a toxic community, ban the toxic players.
eSports is relatively new in the sports world. It doesn't have to play by the rules of mainstream sports - there aren't any physical limitations in eSports, it's about as physical as chess. There shouldn't be a boys club or a girls club. Its rules should be as progressive as the technology it's played on.
Matt Liebl Follow on Twitter
I'm glad to see IeSF actually listening to feedback. Honestly, there's no reason females should've been excluded to begin with. Video games aren't like traditional sports where body type actually plays a major role in performance. I'm pretty sure girls are just as capable as playing a digital card game as men. As for those complaining that there's still a female-only competition, just shut up. You know why it exists? Because it has to. Because despite the progress that has been made with this ruling, the competitive gaming scene still has its assholes that don't think women are worthy. I liken it to female-only gyms. They exist to give women a safe place to workout -- or in the case of the female-only tournament, play a competitive game without being harassed. When eSports rids itself of the venomous hatred completely is when we'll finally get a gender-equal competitive gaming scene.
Let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below!