Featured Writer Leila McGuire takes a look at the IeSF and the female gaming culture.
It’s July and that means that the Assembly e-Sports tournaments are coming up quickly. Assembly is a summer conference for qualifying tournaments for video games that are recognized under the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF). The event is held in Helsinki, Finland from July 31st to August 3rd.
Games that run professional tournaments in this event consist of:
- StarCraft II
- Tekken Tag Tournament II
- Ultra Street Fighter IV
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
This is a pretty big deal for people who play these games professionally and hope to gain sponsorships. But that isn’t what really brought this event into the limelight this year. This year, the IeSF decided that they wanted to make an attempt for e-Sports such as these to finally be recognized as “true sports”. What did they feel they needed to do in order to make this happen?
Stop females from playing in the tournaments.
Not only did they separate the genders from competing against one another, they even completely decimated the American idea of Title-IX and said that girls could not participate in the DOTA2, USF IV or Hearthstone tournaments in any capacity. StarCraft II and Tekken would have their own parallel female versions of the tournaments.
The outcry against the misogynistic ruling was only to be expected. The IeSF acknowledged the plight of the females and said they were lobbying for female-only events but in the end this was the notice that was placed on their Facebook page:
“The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.”
This only fueled the fire and people flocked to join the discussion in droves. Articles were published on some of the major video gaming websites including PCGamer, DailyDot, WoW Insider, GameSpot, and many more. This was not going to go unnoticed. For a month, attention to this controversy went on and the respect of the IeSF was dwindling.
By annihilating a substantial portion of their player base, the IeSF began to really listen to the arguments that were being made by the population and gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment and by July 2nd, the ruling had been brought into question.
After the conclusion of an emergency board meeting, it was announced that the IeSF decided the decision was not in the best interest of their vision for female gamers and all the tournaments that had previously been marked “male-only” were now “open-to-all” although the female only competitions were still being held in parallel. The IeSF released a formal press release, provided further clarification on their Facebook page and provided this apology:
“IeSF also want to apologize to anyone that got offended by the initial announcement. As we strive to do the best we can to promote e-Sports as a true sports beyond any barriers, mistakes might happen along the way, but it is our duty as a community of e-Sports fans and enthusiasts to learn from those mistakes and to make sure they remain in the past.”
This revolutionary idea is a step in bringing female gaming into the light that we exist. We play games and we aren’t afraid to win!