Does Gaming Still Have A Problem With Girls?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dozens of gamers have become rich and famous thanks to their prowess at esports like Dota 2, League of Legends, CS:GO and Fortnite in recent years. They enjoy enormous fan bases, lucrative sponsorship deals and large salaries, allowing them to lead highly aspirational lifestyles.

It is a brave new world, but girls have been largely excluded from it. The highest earning female gamer of all time is a Canadian called Sasha Hostyn, who goes by the name of Scarlett when locking horns with her rivals on the StarCraft II scene. She has earned almost $360,000 during her eight-year career.

It is a pretty good haul, equating to a salary of $45,000 per year, but it pales in comparison to the fortunes that her male counterparts are raking in. The five highest earning pro gamers in terms of prize money are N0tail, JerAx, ana, Ceb and Topson, who have all amassed more than $5 million thanks to their success at Dota 2.

Sausage Fest

A total of 84 male gamers have earned north of $1 million in their careers, but Scarlett is unlikely to join them any time soon. She peaked in 2018, and her earnings have dwindled since then.

Scarlett, a transgender woman, currently ranks 334th in the chart of the top earning pro gamers in the world. The second highest earning girl is Hearthstone star Liooon, who sits well outside the top 500. Only four women have ever earned more than $100,000.

Of course, it is not all about accruing a pile of cash. Many gamers are in it for the prestige and the thrill of success. However, you need to earn a decent living to become a pro gamer and dedicate yourself to the pursuit of glory, and very few girls are in that position.

All the famous names in each esport are men, and almost all the teams are all-male affairs. The NBA 2K League notoriously revealed that it had one woman in a pool of 250 finalists for roster spots in its inaugural season, and she failed to secure a slot.

Check out the favourites for each big tournament at Unikrn.com, and you will see that those teams are all made up of dudes. What is going wrong? Why are there so few successful girl gamers?

A Lack of Opportunities

Gaming might at first appear to be a stereotypically male pursuit. However, Statista claims that 46% of gamers in the US are women.

Shooters, battle royale games and MOBAs might be perceived as male-oriented games, but plenty of women play them. Tim Sweeney, the owner of Fortnite producer Epic Games, says that 35% of Fortnite players are female. Yet there was not a single woman at last year’s Fortnite World Cup, the tournament that made a number of gamers overnight millionaires.

Girls are big fans of competitive gaming. Women already make up a third of the global esports audience and that proportion continues to rise. They are watching esports, but they are not having much success as players.

Scarlett is the only woman to ever win an international StarCraft tournament, while there has never been a female winner of a major LoL, Dota 2, CS:GO, Overwatch, Call of Duty or Rainbow 6 Siege tournament.

There is absolutely no reason why girl gamers should not be as successful as their male counterparts. Crucial skills for esports stars include problem solving, teamwork, communication, dexterity, concentration, determination and mental agility, and none of those require a penis.

Girls are clearly interested in the competitive gaming scene, as various studies have found. The problem therefore has to be a lack of opportunities and a poor environment in which they can develop their skills.

A Toxic Environment

Female gamers have reported misogyny, bullying and harassment at every turn as they have tried to build their careers. They have mentioned toxicity and casual cruelty. Some women are pressured to play as female characters in certain games, and then harassed if they refuse.

This has to stop. It is more than five years since the infamous Gamergate scandal, and publishers have made some progress when it comes to dealing with harassment, but there is a long way to go.

The lack of women in the upper echelons of each esport should be of great concern to the esports industry. The sector will suffer badly if it is not inclusive, as it will alienate large swathes of the global population.

Ultimately that will hit gaming companies’ profit margins, so there is a financial incentive for them to become more diverse as well as a moral imperative.

Challenges Abound

There are plenty of other issues. Girl gamers often do not want to join a promising team if it means getting thrown into a dorm-style home with a group of young men.

Fans have been known to heap scorn on girls that sign for a team, as their arrival is written off as a mere PR stunt. That can cause anxiety for the girl in question.

It also makes female esports stars reluctant to serve as the strong female role models that young girls need. The handful of current female gaming pros want to be judged on their ability, not on their gender, so they often stay below the parapet.

Tournament organisers should do a better job of including girl gamers, promoting them, making them feel comfortable, celebrating their achievements and ultimately providing an environment in which they can thrive on an even footing

Some organisations have launched women-only esports events such as Girl Gamer in order to create competitors that can “act as role models that inspire younger girls in developing an interest” in the esports scene. Yet gaming should be egalitarian. There should be no need to keep men and women apart in esports, as testosterone offers no discernable advantage.

Once women are accepted and integrated into big teams, there will be no need for female events. Many girl gamers are already displaying the skill level required to thrive in esports like Dota 2 and CS:GO, but the talent scouts are ignoring them, or the girls reject their advances because they have seen what happens to female gamers like Geguri. It is time for big teams to become more inclusive and allow women to flourish. They will benefit, the esports ecosystem will benefit and so will legions of aspiring young gamers.

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