Full disclosure, I am a woman, and the first time I saw a female halo tournament it kind of bothered me. I felt like it was a little weird to have an all female tournament when I play with/against men in matchmaking everyday. Sometimes I play better than them, sometimes I play worse than them, so I didn’t immediately understand the need for an all female tournament or league. As I learned more about them I understood that it is really valuable for women to have a safe space for themselves and I think that is a great benefit of these tournaments but I think there are also a few negatives. Having an all female league reinforces the idea that women are worse than men at video games. So much so that we need a whole league to ourselves. A lot of people like to compare esports to traditional sports but I think a better comparison is chess. As we all learned from Queen’s Gambit, people used to think women needed their own chess league too, that they weren’t as smart as men and couldn’t compete against them. None of that was true, but what was true was that women weren’t given the same opportunities or support to compete. I’ll also say, I can beat men in video games but I don’t think I’d ever be able to beat any man in any sport. It’s just not the same thing at all. It’s also not great because most women don’t get to play against only women, in sports this is true but in gaming it’s not like there’s a female only playlist. So why have a female only league? When we reinforce the idea that women are innately worse at video games than men then when men see a woman on their team they feel that much more validated in their assumptions that she will be a bad teammate, or in blaming her for their loss. I’m all for women having their own space but I think the end goal here should be women competing both with and against men on mainstage.
How can we achieve this?
So in major halo tournaments there generally x amount of spots for each region and for teams that qualify through the open bracket. Historically teams from other regions don’t place as well as NA teams but over time we’ve seen them improve. These tournaments allow them to compete against the best teams in the world and also keep engagement in these regions. I would love to see a spot reserved for an all female team. The benefits of this:
- I personally don’t have much experience competing in Halo but from what I understand it can be difficult for women to find good players who will team with them or teams who will scrim them. So this would be a great opportunity for women to compete against the best teams and improve. When one of these all female teams inevitably beats a team I’m sure it would become much easier for these female players to find teammates and scrims.
- When it comes to improving diversity, representation is important. I would love to see more women on mainstage in an environment that makes sense and feels right. This will also increase the number of women who play halo and want to compete in Halo. While you could make the same argument for female pro leagues, I really just don’t think that has the same impact. I personally am not interested in watching an all female league when I know women are capable of competing with men. When I myself compete with men everytime I play matchmaking.
- Publicity, as far as I know no other esport has ever taken this approach so it would likely spark some interest. I’m sure a few extra people would also tune in to watch.
- Engagement, I think a lot of women aren’t very motivated to compete because they know no matter how good they are it will be hard for them to get on the team they deserve to be on. This kind of opportunity will encourage more women to compete.
Now. I know people will be upset, particularly the players who compete for that one spot that would be taken away from them, but if we want to see more women in esports then we have to make room for them. We need to acknowledge that women in esports do not have the same opportunities. The community has not given the same opportunities to women as they have to other competitors. It is no different than any other diversity initiative and I really don’t care about the people who would object for this reason.
I’m really not trying to hate on all female tournaments or leagues and I think they have their benefits. I really would just rather watch women compete with/against men like I know they can.