Name: Kacie Ahmed
Tutorial Leader: Blair Miller
The opening week of the professional video game league, the overwatch league, was a huge success. Over 10 million people tuned into see 12 of the most elite overwatch teams battle it out for cash, fame, and glory. During the midst of all of the bustle and excitement, a blogger named Madeline Ricchiuto noticed something very strange:
Out of the 100+ players participating in the OWL, not a single one of them was female.
Ricchiuto went on to heavily criticize this lack of representation, pointing out that, Kim Se-yeon, a female player, so good that she was accused of hacking the game by other noteable professional players, wasn’t selected by any of the teams to take part in the OWL.One must question, how could someone so talented be excluded from a league meant to showcase the best of talent? According to Ricchiuto, it’s because the league owners were sexist and didn’t even “bother to think about including a female pro”.
Critiques of Ricchiuto say that the real reason why there are no females in the OWL is because none of them were as qualified as the 100+ men who made it in, pointing to talented, male players who were also excluded like Casey McIlwaine and Dylan Bgnet. Others say that the reason as to why there are no females in the OWL is because letting female players live in a team house with predominantly young male players is dangerous, and that the team owners knew this going in, and thus opted to not include any female players in their roasters.
Based on what I’ve told you thus far, you may be inclined to believe either one of these potential reasons. They all sound plausible, they’re not too far-fetched, They sound comfortable. It’s a familiar narrative. However, all three of these potential reasons are too simple, and fail to acknowledge a very well known reality that is faced within the Overwatch community. A reality that I, as a notable, high ranking member of the community, see everyday.
The real reason as to why there are no women in the OWL is actually much more cynical, much more devastating, and much scarier than any uninvolved blogger could ever know. The real reason as to why there are no women in OWL has lead to the mental breakdown of women brave enough to play competitively. The reason why there are no women in the overwatch league can’t be fired, or replaced, like a team owner can. The real reason can’t train harder to fairly earn it’s spot. The real reason can’t invest in co-ed housing. The reason why there are no women in the Overwatch league is the misogynist attitude that has become the norm in a community with 35 million, predominantly male players.
Entitlement, ownership of the other, oppression and a violent attitude towards the body and intellect of women has left a trail of death threats, rape threats and irreparable, shattered lives. The architects of the analog world bring with them all forms of exclusionary narratives into the digital world. Physical barriers become intellectual barriers , and are repackaged as natural barriers. This extremely toxic environment has been detrimental to women, discouraging them from trying to go pro, limiting their tournament opportunities, and thus minimizing their chances of being recognized by major esport organizations.