The subject of gender imbalance in gaming, especially in professional e-sports, and how to rectify it has been a matter of debate within gaming communities for quite some time. A recent article by GamesIndustry.biz’s Haydn Taylor highlights a paper published by Women in Games that puts the spotlight on the topic, providing suggestions for ways to increase gender diversity in e-sports.
Drafted by leaders of women-in-games groups from the UK, France, Germany, and Italy as part of a discussion titled “Increasing female interest and participation in esports careers” held at the inaugural Global Esports Forum organized in conjunction with Intel and e-sport organizer ESL, the paper summarizes the current obstacles inhibiting female participation in e-sports and lays out 12 recommendations for remedying the situation.
The post on WomenInGames.org quotes five-time Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world champion Steph “missharvey” Harvey as saying she believes that the main reason the number of women in e-sports is so low — estimated at about 5% — is that women in gaming are “automatically judged for being different,” citing her own experiences of “extremely graphic” harassment about her gender. Women In Games seeks to eradicate this kind of toxic behavior and promote gender diversity in gaming and e-sports.
The paper’s recommendations for counteracting the forces repelling women from participating in e-sports are manifold, ranging from tracking and analyzing gender statistics in e-sports tournaments to “measure progress in . . . sign-ups and tournament results” to coordinating with “existing women’s groups and grassroots organisations.” Perhaps most notably, the paper suggests that organizers should “significantly increase the number of women-only tournaments and leagues” in order to expand the audience and player base as well as to provide “more opportunities for women staff behind the scenes and in forward facing roles.”