Esports Has Struggled to Become Woman Friendly
Esports has been historically tough for women and girls to navigate.
Women that have made it professionally have found themselves bombarded with scrutiny over their appearance, in addition to hand-wringing over the choice of characters they decide to play. And of course, there’s more than occasional harassment by both colleagues and fans.
Kotaku spoke with 28 female employees of Riot just late last year. Riot is the developer that published the insanely popular League of Legends, one of esports’ defining hits.
Kotaku found that the “bro culture” of the company easily suffocated its female employees to the point that they were oftentimes forced to simply quit. Though Riot contests the assessment, Kotaku routinely found that working in the company was extremely distressing for its female employees who were forced to contend with the sexism that was rife in the company.
Yet, Half of Gamers Are Female
Perhaps what’s so frustrating about the makeup of the gaming industry is that it seems to scarcely represent the makeup of its players. 45% of gamers are, in fact, female. But you wouldn’t know it waiting around for the validation of esports.
That’s why players like Geguri—Kim Se-yeon—are a beacon to female gamers around the world. She has gone on record as saying that she doesn’t want to be known as merely a female gamer. Though, she adds that she is grateful for being looked up to in this way.
And though unfortunate, can you blame her? A heap of criticism has been levied against her for exactly this reason. Perhaps it even influenced motivations behind cheating accusations earlier in her career, when her shooting aim was a little too spot on for some fans.
It’s certainly led fans to deem her appearance “un-feminine” and seems to have left her grappling with loads of insecurities. She has regularly apologized to her fans for being “ugly” and “fat”, for example.
In this case, she at least seems to have a supportive coach who implored the professional gamer to eat as many damn rice cakes as she wished. Not to mention the fact that she’s also received an outpouring of support from female gamers across the globe.
But is it enough to counteract the full weight of an industry that seems to make sport of the insecurities of the girls and women that support it?
I would certainly hope so. For, as of now, Geguri isn’t only playing for herself. She has the unfortunate luck of being saddled with the hopes and dreams of female gamers across the world.