Women in eSports - By Kerigan Beairsto

Sachgau, Oliver. “Being a woman in eSports is still an uphill battle.” Thestar.com, 27 Mar. 2016, www.thestar.com/business/tech_news/2016/03/27/being-a-woman-in-esports-is-still-an-uphill-battle.html.

In this article in the star, it features a woman in Sudbury named Jennifer Pichette, she is a female gamer and commentator. She speaks of the difficulties she has come across when working as a woman in a male dominated field. This citation is particularily interesting as it is a different angle on professionalism in video games as well as it is coming from someone Canadian and local, making it all the more interesting to compare her experiences to my own and the other women I know who play video games. 

Hayes, Elizabeth. Women, Video Gaming and Learning: Beyond Stereotypes. Vol. 48, TechTrends.

This peer reviewed article puts an emphasis on gender stereotypes in the gaming industry. It examines theories about gender differences in digital gaming and making assumptions that women and girls want to shop, talk, dress up or play nice instead of  also enjoy beating up monsters, driving fast cars, saving the world, getting a lot of gold and winning the game.

Sullivan, Gail. “Study: More Women than Teenage Boys Are Gamers.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Aug. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/08/22/adult-women-gamers-outnumber-teenage-boys/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ed76a086a3e3.

This article helps present statistics of just how many women play video games. The numbers are however from 2013 but it was the most up to date representation I could find from a valid source. It suggests that there are much more women playing than people expect, more adults women than even teenage boys. However an important thing to take into account is this includes women who play mobile games and many gamers (including myself) do not necessarily consider that being a gamer.

Burgess, M.C.R., Stermer, S.P. & Burgess, S.R. Sex Roles (2007) 57: 419. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9250-0

An interesting scholarly study in how women and men are portrayed in video games by examining video game covers of dozens of different video games. The essay proved that men were four times more likely to end up on the front cover and even though the women showed up much less, were way more likely to be displayed as hypersexualized and exaggerated. This can be representative of what a woman’s role in the video game world is supposed to be, which causes men to be more aggressive to women when they play with them as they do not fit into the leading hero type role.

Bègue, Laurent et al. “Video Games Exposure and Sexism in a Representative Sample of Adolescents.” Frontiers in Psychology 8 (2017): 466. PMC. Web. 12 May 2018.

A government study that indicates many video games are saturated with stereotypes of women and that these contents may cultivate sexism. Since video games have become increasingly popular in societ they frequently portray women as characters needing help or holding passive or instrumental roles. From data collected looking into video game magazines, this source found that over 80% of female characters are portrayed according to three types: sexualized, scantily clad, or a vision of beauty.Women are also heavily under represented in video games but even when there are women characters they are frequently presented as attractive beings, sex objects in sexually suggestive. The purpose of using this article for my podcast is to explore the roles women are made to fit in these video games and how it can influence men to not think of women as their equals as well as make women want to turn away from video games for the way that they are represented is not often relatable or complimentary like it is with male characters.

Scarlet, Jainia. “Why Women Are Likely to Get Excluded in Online Gaming.” Welcome to the Legion!, Psychology Today , 25 Jan. 2018, legionofleia.com/2018/01/women-likely-get-excluded-online-gaming/.

A source from a popular site that is directed towards gamers. The original article was written on psychology today. The article discusses women in the online gaming realm (with focus on overwatch) and how being excluded can negatively affect people. Emotional abuse is registered just as hurtful as physical abuse by the brain. The article tells people how exclusion hurts women and how it can be fixed. This would be good for the conclusion of the podcast.

Co, Hyo Jean, and Anne Kustriz. National D.Va Association: Fun Feminism Through Discourses . 11 Dec. 2011.

This is a peer reviewed essay on a feminist foundation made to help female gamers. I thought this was interesting due to its name, the national D.Va association. D.Va is a female character in overwatch, she is a 19-year-old Korean girl who plays video games professionally and pilots a mech. For many girls (including myself) she is their favorite character to play because of how they can relate to the character. I thought it would be a really wonderful part of the conclusion of the podcast to talk about the association and how they help young girls find a good community that they trust so they feel comfortable playing video games. It is the kind of fun activism that makes me happy and proud to be a female gamer.

Taylor, T.L. Women and Online Gaming. Sage Journals , 1 Mar. 2003.

This scholarly article explores the issue of gender and computer games by looking at the growing population of women in massive multiplayer online role-playing environments (MMORPGs). This differs from some of my other research that focuses mostly on first person shooters, I wanted to cover all my bases and talk about women playing in all types of online games. It explores what are traditionally seen as masculine spaces and seeks to understand the variety of reasons women might participate. The article explores how focusing on the pleasures women derive from gaming might lend a more complex understanding of both gender and computer games. 

Episode Pitch Transcript

Esports. It’s a global industry that grows day by day. Whether or not you’ve heard of it, – esports has grown rapidly in terms of viewership and events held per year. The global esports audience was estimated to reach 385.5 million in 2017 with global esports awareness reaching upwards of 1.8 billion by 2020. This massive industry is led mostly by three giant gaming industries, Riot Games, Valve and Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard’s newest game Overwatch, an FPS with a cast of diverse and interesting characters launched the Overwatch League, a professional esports league modeled after traditional physical sports organizations. Overwatch is arguably the most relevant esports title of 2017-2018, its large player base of roughly 25 million people, and its experimentation with traditional sports models puts it right in the forefront and makes it the model for all esports. Overwatch is setting a grand example for how the massive empire that is eports will grow. With that in mind, how then will the fact that the professional overwatch league didn’t sign a single female player to one of their twelve teams, set the scene for the future of esports? I wasn’t the only one wondering, an opinion piece on Mashable criticizes that Overwatch's premier esports league has launched without a single female player. It focus’ on one of the biggest female names in the Overwatch community, Geguri, and claims she was excluded specifically because of her gender. The article is filled with quotes from people in the professional league such as the Houston Outlaws general manager, Matt Rodriguez, who says,  “You have to go through all these hurdles, like if you pick up a player, is the press gonna call it a PR stunt, or is it because she was the best?” 

My name is Kerigan Beairsto, I am a nineteen year old female that has played video games all her life. It started with the PS1 and Spyro, then Call of Duty, than Destiny and a million after and in between, Then overwatch came into my life, and I was captured by the sheer amount of female representation in their characters, it was something I simply hadn’t seen before. I both actively play overwatch and watch the overwatch league, so when I saw that no female players were signed onto the first year of the overwatch league... I simply had to wonder why. Is this yet another place the evil spirit of sexism has slithered its way into, or is it simply just coincidence? Did it just so happen that the most skilled players in the industry were all men due to the fact that there are just more men that play these games? And what does this say about women’s future in eSports as a whole? That’s what I am here to dig into. I am eager for answers and well connected enough to the gaming community to see what everyone else thinks. Let’s play.