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Why Are Men The Biggest Esports Players?

Esports are filled with male players. The biggest and brightest names are almost exclusively men, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s unusual all the same.

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What is it about the now billion-dollar industry that is making it such a boy’s club? And will this become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Seen as a mostly male pursuit, women stay away?

The Conversation says that fewer than 10 per cent of esports players at the college level are women.

Is this something that can or even needs to be fixed?

Big Money in Esports

Now, more than ever, Esports are big business. Thanks to coronavirus and the increased ease of watching gaming on Twitch, the biggest Esports players are becoming household names. They’re also becoming very, very rich. Sites including PlayersHive show just how much money is currently in these games.

Tournaments are held regularly, with cash prizes totalling tens of thousands of dollars. When your dad said you’d never make money playing games, he couldn’t have imagined just how much would be on offer.

There’s no doubt that it’s going to continue to grow. Gaming is bigger than ever, and its youngest fans are dreaming of a future where their excellence in their favourite game could mean they can do it professionally. That’s amazing news. Little boys and little girls are looking forward to trying out gaming as a career, for better or for worse.

So why isn’t that reflected in the line-up of big stars today?

Lonely at the Top

There’s no doubt that getting to the top in this profession is currently challenging, to say the least. Those that do it are likely to risk everything to get good enough to even compete. And then, of course, they might fall flat on their face.

The Conversation spoke to women at college level Esports. They said women often felt marginalized or even targeted because of their gender. As well as receiving death threats – a sadly commonplace thing for men and women – female players were far more likely to receive threats of sexual violence.

There was also talk of being tokenised – the team’s official “girl”.

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But why does it even matter? For most of us, it doesn’t. On an individual level, the best and bravest women will still float to the top, regardless of the percentages.

As Esports continue to grow, they will increasingly become more reflective of our industry. People will see the biggest Esports events like the Olympics, not necessarily a good indication of individual events, but still the poster child for it all.

If that image is one where women are unsafe, it reflects badly on us all. Imagine soccer players or runners getting sexual message or death threats as default – it wouldn’t be nearly as common, and it wouldn’t be nearly as accepted.

Why Are Men The Biggest Esports Players? – Conclusion

Of course, there are individual problems as well. Women want to play video games professionally, and the culture must change to accommodate that. But that comes with time and acceptance.

There are also gaming scholarships which, by and large, end up going to men because not enough women are interested to apply. Again, only time will tell if that’s because of interest or reputation.

But what’s certain is the gaming world is changing. As it continues to do so, outside eyes will be judging us all.

 

Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott    Google Plus: matgrowcott