So the title of this article is clickbait, but the point is pretty solid: esports is brodude central.
Before anyone makes any inane gender essentialist comments, I’d like to point out that, for example, professional wrestling audiences are estimated at about 40% women (or, at least, that’s the number the company touts internally… and yes, it is internally, not just for the media, and no, don’t ask how I know that). I’m not sure what the numbers are in SPORTSBALL!! (i.e. traditional sports), but I’m going to bet it’s more than 3%.
So what’s gone wrong in eports? Well, firstly, the lack of high-level female players doesn’t help. I mostly watch StarCraft II, and, off the top of my head, in that game I can think of Scarlett. And that’s it. One woman in a forest of bros. And no, it’s not like I know every single SCII player in the field, so I know there will be other women I’m missing… but that’s sort of the point, too. As a “casual” fan, she’s the only one I know of (and the only one the article mentions). That’s a problem.
Secondly, you’ve got people like Team Liquid’s Matt Weber making statements like:
It [there being few female esports fans] holds water in the sense that it’s true, but I don’t know if there’s much to be said about it. […] The community has a hard time taking women seriously because historically the ones who make themselves known generally have been people who truly are seeking attention from desperate men (basically groupies)
Hey, Weber? Fuck. You. Seriously. On behalf of ever single female esports fan out there: Fuck you and your patronizing backhanded white knighting.
Thirdly, it’s not always easy to find esports casts that aren’t at least subtly, if not openly, hostile towards women. Hell, finding one where the presenters don’t use “bitch” every second or third word is almost impossible. Honestly the only one I can, again, think of off the top of my head is maybe GomTV, i.e. a professional broadcast channel. Like, don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Day, for example, and he’s usually pretty good with inclusivity… but even he does this on occasion. Other casters and commentators are worse. Much, much worse. (And that’s not even touching on the players…)
Finally, fourthly, and only fourthly; the community. Yeah, there are jerks in them thar forums, and it’s easy to blame them for the lack of female presence. But all the fourteen-year-olds on the internet can’t weigh up against an entire industry whose culture-makers and superstars are, at best, largely silent on the issue of misogyny and lack of female representation.
Change starts from the top. It’s not up to women to beat down the doors of the clubhouse. It’s up to those inside to open them.