The recent term “electronic sports,” or “eSports,” refers to transforming online gaming into a spectator sport. It is similar to watching a professional athletic event, but viewers see video gamers compete against one another instead of a physical contest. Because the eSports movement has developed so widely in recent years, games can frequently be watched as a planned arena event. These games are divided into competitive leagues and tournaments like traditional sports.
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eSports: Short Review
eSports are just video games played in a highly controlled competitive setting. Popular, cooperative multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), first-person shooters, survival battle royales, and digital recreations of real-world sports are some examples of these games. In this article, we will explore the realm of eSports and share some information about the discrimination against female athletes within this domain.
The Rise of eSports
Even though the eSports industry has existed since the 1990s, it has only just started to acquire popularity. Technology advancements have made it possible for the user experience to resemble real life. Additionally, modern internet services minimize connectivity problems and provide consistent immersion for both the user and the spectator. Just admire the digits: 249 million occasional watchers and 240 million eSports fans made up the aggregate eSports audience in 2022. The numbers for 2023 are expected to be considerably higher. Although this is an exciting period for gamers and a fantastic opportunity for those who excel to make a living, other groups, including people of color and females, seem to be shut out.
Why the Popularity?
First, let’s see why eSports are so popular right now.
⭐️ Accessibility. To play a traditional sport, you might need to get everyone together in the same physical spot, but online gaming allows you to play with players from all over the world right from the comfort of your home.
⭐️ Inclusivity. Regardless of age, gender, or physical prowess, anyone may succeed in eSports. Of course, you will still need to put in a lot of practice to rank among the top. But this kind of practice ensures endless fun and is substantially less challenging and physically demanding. Since everyone in the digital world is equal, it won’t matter if you’re the strongest or biggest player on the pitch.
⭐️ Endless choices. The number of eSports options offered to choose from is limitless. No matter what eSports you like to watch, play, or even wager on, you should be able to find something that matches your preferences. All of the games have excellent graphics, which is just one more aspect that makes eSports so appealing to a broad audience in addition to the large array of options.
⭐️ Social character. eSports are significantly more social than any other sports. Even if conventional sports provide excellent socializing opportunities, eSports elevate everything to a whole new level. As any video game enthusiast would know, playing video games is a very sociable activity that offers plenty of opportunities for making new friends, joining different groups (such as teams, guilds, etc.), and socializing in various ways while playing some of your favorite games.
⭐️ Unconventional career. What could be more thrilling than making a fortune as a professional gamer, especially when compared to more conventional careers like being an accountant, lawyer, or sales associate — no offense to those who work in such professions — given that 83% of teenage girls and 95% of adolescent guys frequently play video games?
⭐️ Generous prizes. Finally, it’s important to note that many eSports events provide more than just alluring rewards. These most frequently consist of cash rewards, computer hardware and accessories, and other similar prizes.
Going Pro as an eSport Athlete
It may seem that becoming a professional eSports athlete is a breeze. After all, you do not need any exceptional physical endurance or strength. However, this is a misbelief. A professional gamer (in the most authentic meaning of the word) competes in important eSports events and prepares for the sport just as seriously as a football player or tennis player might. But it’s easier said than done to know how to be a gamer who can stand out from the crowd and mix it with the best. Natural talent, which frequently includes but is not limited to gaming IQ, coolness under pressure, finding your flow, and swift reflexes, also plays a significant role in reaching the top. It takes more than just playing knowledge to be a good player — you also need to be able to focus for extended periods and evaluate your opponents. Players need to practice for several hours each day to do this. Tactic and strategic drills are part of the training. They also need to engage in physical activity to tone their hands, arms, and backs because their posture while playing for long periods can cause pain and injuries. No formal training is required to become a professional. In essence, you need to practice playing for many hours and study the strategies used by the best players.
Although some clubs train players to represent them in their teams, some academies search for new prospects. Many eSports academies may be found online if you search. While others prepare players for various sports, some are devoted to a particular game.
Are Women Discriminated Against in Sports?
It’s sad to hear and hard to believe, but they still are. Gender discrimination in sports happens at every level. Less money, scholarships, and chances are available for women and girls to participate in sports. College women’s basketball coaches make less money than males do. Women’s sports receive significantly less media attention, sponsorships, and marketing, which deepens the imbalance. In the sports boards regulating bodies and coaching, women have fewer rights. It is a systemic, cyclical issue. Imbalances throughout the industry sustain gender inequality in sports.
The main reason behind this inequality hides in stereotypes and a strong belief that men greatly surpass women in raw physical abilities. Humans do exhibit sexual dimorphism. And supporting destructive attitudes towards women is a far cry from recognizing biological facts. Girls are not necessarily weak, delicate, or limited to becoming moms and housewives. However, men have certain advantages due to their genetic makeup regarding hormones, metabolism, reduced body fat, larger hearts, aerobic ability, muscle distribution, and muscle fiber composition. Men typically jump higher, run quicker, and have stronger grips. These factors matter in conventional sports, but how about eSports?
Women in eSports
💡 Due to numerous admission obstacles, including misogyny and gender roles, women are underrepresented in eSports. A prevalent perception among female gamers blames their talent on their gender. However, evidence shows that women are as good at eSports as men. In professional video games like League of Legends, female players develop their skills at the same rate as male players, according to scientific research in 2015.
Though physical abilities do not matter in eSports, women are still highly undervalued. There aren’t any female-led events to be found if we only go back a few years. Women are left on the sidelines without any form of representation in the eSports sector because it is a male-dominated environment. However, every cloud has a silver lining. Fast-forward to the present day and significant strides have been made thanks to the efforts of organizers, developers, publishers, and eSports associations to include female contestants. As female-led eSports competitions increase in frequency, there will be more female role models for aspiring players to look up to due to increased representation.
This male-dominated sector has always fascinated and enthused young boys, but it now openly welcomes female gamers.
Why Female eSports Players Are Scarce?
eSports emerged as a brand-new, ground-breaking sector for everyone to participate in the same competition. It was intended to be the only sport type that ensured perfect gender equality and altered previous social norms about women and men. However, women who struggle with sexism, discrimination, trash-talking, and exclusion from exclusively male environments will never be able to improve their talents to the point where they can compete successfully in male-dominated esports events. That’s why so few make it into the ranks of professional gamers.
Video games are played by over half of the younger female population. But even though there are many female gamers, there aren’t any in high-level competitive gaming. We explored some of the possible reasons below.
No Role Models
The top levels of competitive gaming see very few women, although many prominent female influencers are in the gaming industry. Even while eSports competitions are often available to both genders, men predominate in the professional eSports sector. Many female players do not consider eSports a realistic career option due to a lack of role models.
Low Earning Potential
Female gamers still make less money than their male counterparts, even the top ones. They will always need to hunt for a second job since they cannot support themselves purely through eSports like men can. Because there are no female gaming role models, more potential players choose to stay at home rather than confront the toxic and cozy world made by men for men. The largest prize pool in eSports is for Dota 2, but no female player has ever taken home a world title. eSports aren’t a full-time professional option for most female players due to their much lower earning potential. Unfortunately, income inequality exists in most global companies, regardless of the target audience or relative star profiles. For instance, only two female athletes were the top 50 highest-paid athletes in 2022.
eSports, in contrast to traditional sports, should offer gender-neutral competition. What accounts for the apparent pay discrepancy, then? The question remains unanswered.
The difference in the types of gamers that most men and women are could be one explanation for this. Men tend to make up the majority of avid gamers, who log numerous hours each week and are more likely to compete at a high level. On the other hand, many women favor a more relaxed and casual play style.
The most typical gender-specific issues that women have encountered include patronizing remarks about their performance (such as “You’re pretty good for a girl”), receiving unwanted sexual messages through in-game chat or post-game DMs, and getting messages asking for dates or a relationship.
According to one study, 76% of female gamers conceal their gender when playing online, with many of them doing so to prevent sexual harassment.
Fixing all these problems is a challenging task.
Whatever the case, it is clear that female players are an integral component of the gaming industry and that they will become more prominent in the future of eSports.
Ways to Empower Female eSports Athletes
Specific ways may make female athletes more visible in the realm of eSports. Some may look controversial (like the first one below), but experts believe they all work.
Splitting Tournaments Into Male and Female
This initiative aims to create a safe gaming environment for female athletes without gender-based harassment. However, it is an acute matter right now that sparks a lot of debates. Some claim that dividing teams by gender will be a step back from equality, making the gender situation in eSports even worse.
Giving Women More Support
Many experts believe that gaming companies should be urged to support female players just as much as their male counterparts, and it’s not just about the exposure but also about having a coach, a secondary coach, an analyst, and an effective team manager. Any action taken to tackle the current hostile environment must begin by strengthening the games’ communities. There is an urgent need to develop a code of behavior with guidelines against racism, casteism, sexism, and homophobia.
Introducing Positive Role Models
The most significant contribution to increased female participation is making women recognized in the realm of eSports. Positive role models will show that women can shatter the glass ceiling. Promoting female players in the media or increasing scholarships for women athletes could do the trick.
Sexism in women’s sports is a recurring issue that impedes the development and equality of female athletes. Prejudice and gender stereotypes continue to harm how people see women in sports despite some advances in the recognition and exposure of women’s sports. Women’s athletic accomplishments continue to be subjected to sexist remarks and unfair criticism, which serves to downplay their achievements and abilities. The topic of women in eSports will increase significantly over time. There will be a synergy between leagues and tournaments that women run and those that males dominate before long. Of course, some will oppose this movement and the increasing role of women in eSports, but that’s just how the world is; some people will never be willing to adapt. The fact that women are securing their positions in the quickly expanding eSports business is all that truly matters; honestly, they are crushing it.