When you tune in to any electronic sports event, you will probably only see men. Of the 100 World Cup Finals Fortnite none were women, and only one in more than 200 players in the Overwatch league is a woman. The apparent egalitarianism of digital competition has obviously not turned into a level playing field. In response, a number of organizers focused on creating women-only events. They obviously serve a need, but that need remains complex.
While many of the arguments against these events are easily dismissed (no, it's not reverse sexism to give marginalized sex your own space), separate tournaments are not always popular, even among those who demand more women and non-competitive e-sports competitors. Discussion is reasonable: If our ultimate goal is non-male tournaments, can participating in individual tournaments be part of the solution?
The Girl Games Festival obviously thinks so. This is a series of events for women only, taking place since 201
The Movistar Export Center in Madrid has capacity for only about 70 spectators, but the seats were full as 10 women took the stage for their first League of Legends match. When they started playing, a shot from one of the teams was heard throughout the rest of the noise, announcing her team, picking targets and celebrating when things were going their way. It quickly became clear that many of the crowd were already on her side, but those of us who entered without favorites soon began to applaud for her and the rest of her team, Movistar Riders.
When organizer Fernando Pereira said that one of the goals of Girl Gamer is to create contestants who can "act as role models that inspire younger girls to develop an interest in [competing] ", this is the shot that I think about. I'm not the young girl that Pereira probably suggests – given how common young professionals are in e-sports, I'm usually older than anyone who competes – but there's still some inspiration to see someone like you, yes be confident and carefree and win the stage.
Of course, it's not just about me and the other women watching. The women on stage are the ones who make the most of the event. Pereira says they aim to create "a platform that offers women the opportunity to grow and develop their competitiveness in e-sports." That is a step, in other words, to start competing in mixed-gender events – obviously something this is necessary if it works.
The event had such energy. After the caller completes the match, she rushes to speak enthusiastically with her family in the audience, with each young participant learning the ropes in their first race, applauded by those who know them.
The Gamer Festival Girl aims not only to open the proverbial door with whom they are invited, but also where these events take place. This year they were in Sydney, Madrid, Sao Paulo and Seoul. In addition to the latter, these are rare e-sports event venues that limit opportunities for people living outside the main centers of America, South Korea, and China. Pereira also aims to expand: "We want to be able to reach more regions left in this year's chain, while building more mechanisms to allow us to run year-round online racing in multiple games."
may be the springboard that some female competitors need. "Learning how to play properly in LAN tournaments is a very important experience," Maya Caltys Henkel, an AD player for the 1945 OOB League 1945 League of Legends team, tells me. The OOB were the winners of Girl Gamer Madrid, and they will compete in Dubai in December for the overall trophy. "Providing a safe environment for female players to start somewhere in e-sports [is important] as it is still a very sexist field," agrees botanist Lore Dellaroche.
In addition to experience and foot in the door, every e-sports racer takes advantage of visibility, which can lead to fans and opportunities in the future. "It's always great to be on stage for everyone to watch our games and support us," says the topless Naïma "Freyja" Gradi.
Along with providing experience and coverage to these women, which is something every beginner needs, some Girl Gamer events also provide extra help. "We take the opportunity to hold conferences and seminars that educate players in the e-sports industry and develop their careers while teaching their parents how best to support their children and build better relationships at home," Pereira says .
In doing all this, he sees the possibility of events such as the Girls' Festival playing eventually becoming unnecessary. "Once women actually start being accepted and integrated into professional teams in top-level tournaments, it may no longer make sense to have separate gender events," he says.
Players also see it as a step towards increasing the number of women in mixed events. "It should not, and I hope it will not, become a dead end for women who want to compete," says Delarosh. "I hope everyone is used to seeing women in competitive games at some point and watching players for their performance instead of their gender. But for me, we have to go through all those steps before that happens. "Grady agrees:" If there are enough women in mixed events without sexist situations, this will no longer be necessary. "
But it makes sense to everyone I say that is still a long way off. We are still at a time when women are being guarded by teams that are supposed to be" mixed genders " for reasons such as having to share a team house that happened to Molly "Avala" Kim. Misogynistic skepticism often leads to accusations of infidelity that happened to Kim "Geguri" Se-Yon. harassment often leads to women leaving the stage, in the case of Kate Mitchell, all of which come from a single e-sport, Overwatch which is often regarded as one of the most welcoming, thanks to Blizzard advertising focusing on a slightly more diverse cast of characters and events such as Pride Festivals
, but it gives women an avenue ahead that may not be otherwise accessible. "As with all equality issues, it's a generation problem that will take a long time," Pereira says. "We can only do our best by doing our part to promote change."