Just a few brief days ago, I reported about IeSF's bizarre choice to segregate men and women from competing at the upcoming Summer Assembly 2014 in Finland. Even though non-athletic sports competitions like the World Poker Championships allow for women and men to see who has the best bluff, sitting side by side at the same table, IeSF initially stated that they were holding separate tournaments for men and women, so that they could be seen as a legitimate sports league. If they wanted to work on legitimizing what they do, rather than making a farce of the tournament, maybe they should have looked at how non-athletic sports leagues run their competitions instead of trying to focus on only the sports part.
Naturally, gamers from all over the world voiced their opinions to the International eSports Federation, letting them know that instead of coming off as a legitimate association (if I seem a little redundant here with the word legitimate, it's because I've fully latched on to their word choice), they've instead come off as sexist. International competitions can't afford to be labeled as sexist if they want to be taken seriously. Not to mention, I'm sure that there was plenty of outcry directed towards the companies who make the games that will be used in this tournament.
In a press release they published on the 3rd, they say that they put together an emergency board meeting in order to address the issue brought up by the community. The result of that board meeting isn't just a full tournament. Now, there are “open to all” tournaments, where anyone can join based on qualifications instead of biological assignments. However, in addition to these “open for all” tournaments, they are also holding women-only tournaments for StarCraft II and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
On the surface, their reasoning is a noble cause. IeSF says that they want to spotlight women gamers, since esports is predominantly male. While women make up half of all gamers, the number of women competing in esports tournaments is nowhere near that number. “The IeSF’s female-only competitions aim to bring more diversity to competitive play by improving the representation of women at these events. Without efforts to improve representation, e-Sports can’t achieve true gender equality.”
I know, buddy. I'm pretty confused by this rationalization, too.
Sounds great, right? More representation for women in esports and an organization fighting for gender equality – what more could a lass like me hope for? Well, for starters, let's not forget their original reasoning behind the segregation in the first place. It wasn't for better representation of anyone, but to make them seem like a “legitimate” sports organization. Only after being called out for being sexist do they now backtrack to do what they can to not be called that nasty S word.
Looking into it further, the IeSF points out in its own press release for this change in policy that the women's tournaments will take place at the same time as the one everyone else will be in. The events labeled “open for all” might as well have their names changed to “real” instead. More people will be competing in the open events, instead of the women-only ones. Since these events will get more participants, they'll also receive more press. If IeSF really wanted to give women better representation, they would not hold the women-only tournaments at the same time as their open counterparts. Not to mention, I'm curious as to why StarCraft II and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 were selected as what women will be competing in.
I feel that the way that IeSF is addressing this issue by going about it the wrong way. Instead of trying to correct a wrong, they're trying to erase their initial statements. If they IeSF wants to move forward, they should start by apologizing for trying to patronize women gamers by looking for a quick solution to make them complicit. We're not dumb, and if you really do want to give us better representation, then give it to us. Don't hide these women-only events behind the full events that we all know everyone will be showing up to compete in.