Thursday, July 03, 2014

Isolating Women In Game Tournaments Isn't The Solution

Today is a tad bit difficult to avoid the elephant in the room: A South Korean international video game tournament will be splitting men and women. There will be no unisex competition. Men will be able to play DoTA2, Hearthstone, Ultra, StarCraft 2, and Street Fighter IV. For women, it's Starcraft 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

Sh*t. If you're going to split it up at least give everyone the same games to play. Not only did you cut the gender lines, making it very clear that men and women game differently, but you knocked out most of the titles for really no reason. Why not Hearthstone? I personally know a number of women that play it, more then men. There's no logic behind the game cutting.

But according to the International eSports Federation, the splitting of the genders is to help promote eSports as a legitimate form of competition. Right. That makes sense; as in no sense at all.  They cite that Chess has had the gender divide for decades. Interesting that they fail to mention that the said same gender divide has been an issue since chess became an international competition. (According to IeSF statements, it's also a problem if a woman beats a man in a game because it would cause trouble, thus an additional need to separate the genders. Why? I don't know.  Maybe they're afraid of gamer rage.)
The concern is that the IeSF is assuming that men and women do not use their brains the same way when it comes to playing games. Cognative awareness, spatial reasoning, hand eye coordination, etc. However, studies over the years have shown that men and women are more alike in this area then anywhere else. The same applies to Chess. Why are we splitting genders in this way? It makes no sense, and it's insulting that they gave women only a fraction of the games to play (a strategy and a combat skills - why not a turn based puzzle or action MMO like the men are being provided?)

This isn't exactly encouraging to women. They are practically inferring that we are inferior and our brains can't handle higher thinking processes to play Hearthstone. IeSF is just not directly stating it.

Since coming under fire, the IeSF has changed their rules and will now have an Open tournament for all genders and the Female-Only will remain. But that's not solving the issue either. It's still stating that women have to have a separate section to game because we can't compete fairly with the men. Why should women get a separate tourney but not the men? Now they have reversed the gender discrimination from women to men. It's not sending the right message if you're truly for "equality." It needs to be an open tournament, nothing else, or no tournament at all. Splitting the divide with genders is not a solution, and further reinforces stereotypes that women can't play games (and can't play them with men).

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