This is to avoid possible conflicts


Ok so sports are mostly sex-divided – women and men mostly don’t play on the same teams, and when they do the word “mixed” is attached. There are moves to erode this at least in schools, and that’s a good thing. But humans are mildly sexually dimorphic, so one can see that there are reasons for sports to be dimorphic also.

Sports, but not games. Games don’t need to be dimorphic.

Or do they?

A user on Reddit’s Hearthstone community yesterday shared this image—from an announcement pagefor a Hearthstone qualifier taking place during Finland’s Assembly Summer 2014. What made “Karuta’s” post notable was a single, highlighted sentence: “The participation is open only to Finnish male players.”

That is, to state the obvious, a strange requirement for a Hearthstone tournament; and it makes the qualifier’s organisers, the Finnish eSports Federation, seem like childish boys in a treehouse, hanging a “no girls allowed” sign on their front door. Only, the qualifier is for for the IeSF World Championship, and it’s this global event that has stipulated the all-male line-up.

“Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only,” said Markus “Olodyn” Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, in a statement to PC Gamer. “In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”

Um…that’s a little too frank. You’re not supposed to just come right out and admit that you’re rigging it so that no man will lose to a woman.

The IeSF, or International e-Sports Federation, is a global organisation based in South Korea that is comprised of e-sports associations from across the world. Their stated aim is to promote e-sports as a “true sport”. The IeSF’s sixth World Championship will take place this November, in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here’s the tournament list, from the organisation’s Facebook event page:

  • Male Competition: Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Ultra Street Fighter IV
  • Female Competition: Starcraft 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2

It’s an absurd division. Seemingly it tells us that Ultra Street Fighter IV is for boys, and Tekken Tag Tournament is for girls; that women aren’t meant to play Dota 2 or Hearthstone; and that while both men and women can play Starcraft 2, they damn well better not do it together.

Of course, that’s not what the IeSF are saying. Their reasoning is far more insidious than that. In a reply to a Facebook comment asking why men and women had been divided, the IeSF responded with the following:

“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.”

And “legitimate sports” is sexually divided, therefore e-Sports has to be sexually divided. It’s legit.

Comments

  1. says

    Okay… true confession, I was trying to multitask, watching this. There’s this tennis game on. Raonic. I’m warming to him. And he’d just come back from having his serve broken by Kyrgios. Next game, broke him right back…

    And for the record, a Canadian male on the verge of making a semifinals for the first time since 1923, yeah, it’s kinda a big deal, and honestly the _only_ thing that would prevent me from giving this blog my undivided attention… And speaking of dimorphism and sex-divided sports, yeah, it would kinda be catching up to the truly awesome Bouchard in the women’s draw at this point…

    … anyway, so I’m reading this a bit distracted, vaguely see ‘sports’ and ‘dimorphic’, and figure, oh, well, this is rugby or something, right?

    (Rereads…)

    Umm. Right. Yeah, that makes _so_ much sense…

    (‘Cos, umm… guys’ thumbs are bigger or something? Totally reasonable, I’m sure.)

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I don’t follow esports as closely as I used to but I’ve never heard of this organization. Not that it’s an excuse, but I don’t think this is representative of eports in general, at least in terms of policy. It’s still overwhelmingly male in practice, but this is the first I’ve heard of an event actually being segregated. I’m glad to see PC Games treating it as patently absurd anyway.

    Starcraft 2 is the only one of these games I really pay attention to and one of the top players, Scarlet, is female. I’ve never heard of any issues with her being able to participate in any SC2 event.

  3. Pen says

    In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.

    If I’m reading it rightly, he’s saying that the international tournament is only open to male players. If a Finnish woman won in Finland they would not be able to send her through to the international stages. They are only allowed to send a man. Therefore, they feel forced to separate the sexes in the Finnish tournament. The situation is still outrageous, but it lies at the international level mostly, although they could have declined to participate or forced the situation if they cared.

    Or, I have comprehension fail.

  4. says

    Seven of Mine/#4:

    I know a surprising number of Canadians who aren’t partricularly rooting for Raonic. Don’t honestly know what it is he did or what he does that brings this on, but in the standard muddled/irrational psychology of sports fans, I’m now finding myself kinda pulling for him out of sheer bloody mindedness or something.

    (/And yeah, geez, 1923!)

  5. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I have nothing against Raonic; I just have a soft spot for Aussies, especially very young, up and coming ones who just beat Rafa Nadal. Under normal circumstance I’d be pulling for Raonic myself.

  6. Paladynian says

    If the Finnish eSports Federation needs to split the events into male and female divisions because the IeSF demands it, it would seem to me that the classy thing would be just to tell the IeSF to take a hike.

    Run the competition unsegregated and don’t concern yourself with that whole IeSF qualification thing. If the IeSF is pulling this sort of garbage I’m not seeing as that valuable a venue to compete at in the first place. :(

  7. opposablethumbs says

    Sex segregation of videogames. Videogames. FFS.

    Jesus H Christ on a bicycle.

    The stupid, the illogical, the unbefuckinglievably nonsensical burns so bad I’m just left flailing incoherently.

    It all makes so much perfect sense … if, you know, you just want to find any pathetic and utterly transparent excuse to exclude half the population for no godsdamn reason at all.

    Oh, now I want cartoons. Somebody of the calibre of Author has to tear this to shreds, please.

  8. says

    Pen #6

    If I’m reading it rightly, he’s saying that the international tournament is only open to male players. If a Finnish woman won in Finland they would not be able to send her through to the international stages.

    I do think that is what they are getting at, but I do not really feel any sympathy for their position, they, along with other eSports Federation members could be raising a stink about this and take action to force the hands of the international body. Or they could not have formed in the first place. No one forced them to create national eSport Federation, they could have taken one look at the ludicrous sex segregation rules and not joined, but they decided to anyway.

  9. Blanche Quizno says

    They don’t want the poor mens to be humiliated by being beaten by girls. Because they would be. There are some hard-core gaming chicks out there, and these sad little mens obviously know it.

  10. says

    I see IeSF has made a few tweets about this.

    We are aware of the current opinion about the gender divided tournament in #iesf2014. We are collecting your opinions, and will update soon.

    and 7 minutes ago

    There was never an intention to discriminate. We’re working on a solution right now, and we will post our official announcement soon.

    I am not sure how you unintentionally sex segregate, or are they admitting they are utterly clueless?

  11. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Travis @ 13

    Per the PCGames article they made the excuse that they had a separate women’s event to promote female gamers so, presumably, that’s what they thought they were doing. I am, of course, using the word “thought” very loosely.

  12. Sili says

    If the Finns had any guts (and I assume that Finland isn’t the only country trying to send players to Korea), they’d let women participate equally, and then just send the losing man on, if need be.

  13. says

    Travis:

    I am not sure how you unintentionally sex segregate, or are they admitting they are utterly clueless?

    “We intended to segregate according to sex, bc women aren’t human beings. But we didn’t mean to discriminate.”

  14. says

    But humans are mildly sexually dimorphic, so one can see that there are reasons for sports to be dimorphic also.

    While I would agree that the behavior in sex divided video game competition is an irrational, sexist, extension of what is done in sports in the physical world, I’m not even convinced by most applications of how sex and gender are taken into account in sports in the physical world.

    Most sports involve many many different strategies that manipulate psychology, bodies, and tactics on a level that can easily include women despite physical differences. Even in football a quarterback can do well with speed and evasion while depending on other team members for interference and blocking. I can’t think of a reason that a woman that is willing to take some impacts should not be successful as a quarterback. And since we are talking about phenomena where the variation within groups is often greater than the variation between groups any large, strong, beefy women that wants to be one of the other team members and meets physical requirements should be able to do so.

    As for other physical competitions not based on teams, weight and capability classes can also easily deal with the smaller proportion of particular sexes and genders that can qualify if the criteria are set for ability and fair competition. In fact it would be interesting to see how we would sort out if we ignored sex and gender entirely.

    “In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”

    That just gives away “the game” so to speak. That is basically admitting that there are people that can’t take losing to a woman (the International e-Sports Federation) and they don’t want to deal with the social conflict. The only other “charitable” interpretation is that they are mindlessly applying some other regulation scheme and can’t actively think about any larger implications.

    So it’s either they are sexist, they are too lazy to deal with sensitive sexists, or they can’t think independently while setting up a competition.

    It’s nice that the organization is trying to lobby for equal representation (though they don’t specify how), and I can see the value in holding minority-only tournaments to provide a more protected space to increase opportunities to make e-sports more popular among everyone more generally, but the moral and effective thing to do would be to make tournaments under your control equal opportunity, and let the records and skills of the winners of the unwelcome gender be your best argument in lobbying. If they have to hold segregated tournaments just to be considered they are basically going along with ethics and morals that they might otherwise claim to not share. If it looks and quacks like a sexist…

    At least they are responding to feedback.

  15. A Hermit says

    For once reading the comments at one of these links is actually a pleasure. They seem to be unanimous in their outrage at this sexist nonsense.

  16. yahweh says

    I don’t see any reason (barring the practicalities of changing facilities) why men’s sports should not be made open i.e. to women as well. You couldn’t do it both ways without spoiling the women’s competitions, but that’s no different to letting boxers contest above their weight but not below.

  17. =8)-DX says

    The Koreans can be quite backwards in this, but there are people there fighting for this as well. Scarlet in Startcraft 2 is a great example of a pro-level female gamer, who (despite the usual “woman gamer?!?” brainfarts people have) has a number of great fans who actively reject and call out any BS thrown in her direction, including transphobic comments, explaining things in a relatively mature way.

    But we need more Scarlets, and definitely need to allow the female Hearstone players to play, there are quite a few good female Hearthstone streamers and players, and it is really only the Finnish-Korean connection that would even think of making such restrictions.

  18. tiko says

    I was going to say a whole lot of stuff about this but I think all the previous commenter’s have covered it.
    It basically boils down to two things:

    1 If women are included it sullies the event.
    2 Some men cannot even bare the thought of a woman beating them.

    The pettiness is infuriating. It’s pathetic.

  19. Minnow says

    Also, I’d like to remind Minnow what happened when the European underclass flooded the North American continent in search of the economic opportunity denied them in their home countries.

    It would lead to women’s sports being robbed of all their best players which would have a strongly negative effect on the value of women’s sports for those women (the majority) who could not compete with men.

  20. Paladynian says

    Some good news this morning, from the IeSF Facebook page:

    “Our reason for maintaining events for women only is that we acknowledge the imporance of providing women with ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports, a currently male-dominated industry. Without efforts to improve female representation in e-Sports events, we can’t achieve true gender equality.

    However, we realize that hosting a “male-only” competition is not the right way to go – as we stated, the industry is already male-dominated. The fact that a female-only competition is being held for the reason stated above doesn’t mean that there is need to define the main competitions as “male-only”.

    Therefore, we have decided to remove “male-only” competitions. This means the upcoming IeSF World Championship will host tournaments in 2 sections: an “open-for-all” section which is open for all genders (replacing men-only competitions), and a female-only tournaments as stated previously.”

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