The online gaming industry has evolved vividly over the past few years. There are millions of games aroused since the creation of SpaceWar in 1962 - the first ever purpose-built video game. Currently, the most played video game is League Of Legends (LoL), which makes billions of microtransactions every year.
Earlier gaming was classified as a ‘men-only’ field, but studies show that the number of females who download the games in PC/smartphones has increased ever than before. In fact, this number has reached about half of total gamers. However, when it comes to professional gaming, women seem to be almost absent from the gaming tournaments. But why?
Are women not interested in action/shooting games? In reality, the participation of women in video games is nearly half of overall gamers. A popular survey conducted by Entertainment Software Association depicts the same as well. Though many are interested in it, most of them are not willing to get out of the comfort zone and face the challenges. Considering the details of women between 2009 and 2014 in gaming tournaments illustrate the same. There were no female professional players for game ‘League of Legends’ until then. In 2015, Maria Creveling became the first female professional for League of Legends to reach the League championship series.
Let’s dig in on this for better understanding. When one hears about men and women, the first thing that come to our mind is the physical differences, right? However, does this really make a difference in video games? Both need to manage the mouse and keyboards using their hands and there is no physical contact or dress code. So, what could be the real reason?
First and foremost, marginalized representation of female characters is one of the main reasons which act as a barrier for women. Female characters are often hyper-sexualized and have unrealistic body types which cannot be changed by a player. The evolution of Lara Croft from Tomb Raider’s series is a prime example of this issue. When the character was introduced, she was wearing a fitting tank top and tight shorts, with an unrealistic, huge bust. The focus was mainly on the sexuality than on the strength. Under-representation of female characters makes many women hard to make their presence known in gaming.
Evolution of a female character “Lara Croft” from Tomb Raider.
In addition to the character representation, they are often harassed by males based on the concept that females are not “gamers”. There was a time when e-sports was considered solely for men, but the introduction of computer/ mobile games changed the situation. Instead of accepting the female players as a companion, many male players harass them simply based on their gender.
In 2016, BBC Newsbeat provided news about the abuse or threats faced by female gamers. Two leading online gaming sites such as YouTube and Twitch said they are battling to reduce sexist and misogynistic comments and behavior on their platforms.
Stephanie Harvey, also known as MissHarvey, is one of the most successful professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO players. In an interview for BBC, Harvey stated that she receives a lot of abusive comments, and even rape and death threats when gaming online. This is the case with several female gamers around the world. So, she created her own solution, an online community and a stream site called MissCliks to promote female role models in gaming field. “We'll see mainstream gamers becoming more diverse and if I can inspire one person then it would have been worth it”, said Harvey.
Pay scale difference among men and women in video gaming is another reason for the reduced female count. As an illustration, the Paris E-Sports World convention had a cash prize of $75,000 in the mixed competition while the women-only competition had a cash prize of $15,000.
Details taken from esportearnings.com
Unfortunately, the discrimination of players based on their gender is not easy to eliminate. To eliminate this bias, society can educate themselves to move forward. Being aware of the pros and cons of video gaming and working with other gamers who support females is a step in the right direction. We can face the issue when we allow women to begin to reach for their goals without fear of scrutiny.