Today there's a new bit of controversy circulating the eSports Realm, as we find out that at the upcoming Assembly Summer 2014 in Finland, isn't allowing women and men to compete against each other. Yesterday, Reddit user Karuta posted an image regarding qualifiers for Hearthstone, which states that only those belonging to the male sex will be allowed in. While gaming itself has a history of being a boys' club, prohibiting women from the tournament is a bit ridiculous and the International eSports Federation deserves any and all flack they get over this decision, especially given their totally bogus reasoning why.
Right now, you're probably wondering why the Hearthstone tournament is male-only. Jokes about how there really are no women in games (Many Men Online Role Playing Girls, right?) aside, Hearthstone itself does not have any weird sexist rules. This upcoming tournament has a NO GIRLS ALLOWED!! rule for not only Hearthstone, but Ultra Street Fighter IV and Dota 2 as well. Ladies, you have Tekken Tag Tournament 2 all to yourselves. It must not be manly enough. Even though both sexes are allowed to compete in StarCraft II, they will not be allowed to compete against each other.
You see, boys AND girls can play Hearthstone and they can play together!
So, why the bizarre rules, you wonder? Well, it's not a decision on the Finnish arm of IeSF by any means. These rules come straight from the top, as we've learned from their response to PC Gamer. Because IeSF wants eSports to be taken seriously as a sport, they want to have “male” and “female” competitions and segregate the sexes, since in physical sports competitions, men and women compete separately. Instead, it looks like they're only damaging the very name they want to legitimize by making this decision.
In sports competitions like the Olympics, men and women often compete in the same categories (that means that Tekken Tag shouldn't be some lady-only event here, guys), but separately. This is due to differing physiques, because biologically, men and women are built differently. The viewpoint siding with IeSF is that this levels the playing field for men and women, and that since there are so many more men than women in eSports, this gives the best women in competitive gaming to have their own limelight. You know, as long as they don't want to play Hearthstone or Dota 2 competitively.
This does beg the question, however: do people with this point of view feel that because women would get drowned out by men so fast in this tournament that there's no chance that women would be able to compete neck-to-neck with their male counterpoints? Do women need to be given special considerations here? While there are certainly physical advantages (twitch reflexes never hurt) for competitive gaming, it's not exactly like having a better lower center of gravity puts you at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to how well you can farm creeps or put together a deck.
Dear IeSF, your decision to further help “promote eSports as a legitimate sports” is only caracturizing your efforts by turning this into a parody of what you're trying to accomplish. These international sports authorities you speak of segregate sexes due to physiological and biological differences. Boy and girl parts do not determine how well someone can hold a mouse and segregating what games the two sexes can compete in is beyond absurd. I sincerely hope that moving forward, not only will this decision become reversed, but IeSF will realize that tournament segregation by sex is completely unnecessary and only harms eSports as a whole.
For once, I highly recommend reading the comments. IeSF's Facebook page is getting swamped with people letting them know exactly how terrible this decision is. Hopefully we can just get back to everyone swearing there are no women on the internet, because they're really just men anyway, and Hearthstone can be played by anyone who wishes to compete, regardless of their biological status. I look forward to seeing how these companies who've made these games respond to all of this nonsense.