Esports Team Pulls Article Suggesting Emotions And Poor Choices Are Holding Women Back

The gender split in gaming as an overall industry has been very close to 50/50 over the last few years in Australia. We know that thanks to the regular Digital Australia studies conducted by Bond University. But like the rest of the world, that's not the case in esports. It's male dominated and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

So people ask themselves: how do you get more women into the world of esports? And how do you encourage more women gamers to remain in the competitive scene? One major esports organisation tried to explore that conundrum recently — in the worst way possible.

The article was posted, and from all accounts hastily removed, on the website of Ukrainian-based organisation Natus Vincere (Na'Vi). Na'Vi has gotten flak for their presentation and approach to female esports in the past. Over two years ago they were criticised for the announcement of their first female Dota 2 squad, with the members being announced as "five beautiful girls" and nothing mentioned about their in-game roles or past results.

This is substantially more inflammatory than that, however. Titled "What is the future of women in esports," the article begins with a graph from the study of the gender divide across various games, and then posits four possible reasons that could be restricting women from participating or advancing further in esports.

It starts out reasonable enough, criticising the effect of gender stereotypes and sexism amongst the community. But then things take a turn, with the author suggesting that women aren't attuned to fully commit to the competitive lifestyle, women's priorities make them inconsistent competitors and that they have a "heightened emotional response" that results in impulsive behaviour that prevents them from improving.

Here's that last part, in full:

Even the most experienced cyber athletes at times go through the hard times of failure. Women, however, are crucially affected by poor choices they make and are prone to beating themselves up over them a lot more than men do. Their frustration can be expressed through impulsive behaviour and anger which hinders them from handling their mistakes well. Thus, women's emotional vulnerability is considered to be one of the main problems which obstruct and delay their professional progress.

Never mind that the paragraph comes immediately after a photo of Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn, one of the most successful foreigners in the history of StarCraft 2 regardless of gender.

The majority of the piece's assertions weren't supported by any strong evidence, surveys or supplementary information. So the swift and scathing criticism that Na'Vi were inundated with was understandable, and the organisation eventually pulled the article and issued an apology for its publication.

The apology did little to make amends.

The person or people in charge of Na'Vi's Twitter account had the temerity to ask what was wrong with the initial apology, which inevitably fanned the flames further, and then replied by saying they would simply avoid covering gender disparity going forward.

As you'd expect, people have been jumping in for a free kick. Gosugamers pointed out four women who have been making strides as players and broadcasters; Australia's own Kayla Squires commanded the esports spotlight late last year when she became the first woman to qualify for the Call of Duty World League in any region around the world.

Esports Observer put it simply by saying Na'Vi needed to take more care with its editorial and social media. "I’ll be the first to admit a casual use of “guys” when referring to a group of mixed-gender people, but to do so in an apology over an article that reinforces sexist stereotypes seems particularly dense," Ferguson Mitchell wrote.

Esports has always struggled when it comes to promoting and encouraging competition amongst women. But one of its ongoing issues is the industry's perennial failure to explain and communicate the value of such efforts — which extends from women-only competitions to the benefits of a larger, more diverse player base — to the community.

It's not a difficult case to sell. Unfortunately, what happened was a pointless, demoralising discussion about outdated stereotypes. That's the trap Na'Vi, one of the larger and more recognisable names in European esports, fell into. They waded into a topic they didn't understand, the author lacked the finesse to approach the subject matter with any sensitivity or skill, and the end result is disappointing, infuriating and embarrassing all at once.


Comments

    Let the trainwreck begin!!!

    I'm gonna grab some popcorn and just watch the comments section, who's with me!!!

      Yeah, seriously. I'm just not going to get involved this time. There is too much stupid.

      Oh crap, I already commented before reading this...umm...what did I get myself in for?

      Figured this was a safe zone as comments on Kotaku.au tend to be generally non toxic apart from the odd troll.

      Edit: typo

      Last edited 12/02/16 12:28 pm

    "Bad choices"? If that's the case, what's their excuse? Oh yeah, being a total idiot.

    Women aren't suited to professional competitive sports? Alright then lets just forget about all the Olympic athletes and just sweep that irrelevant info under the rug.

    It's about time the bigots learned that women play games just as much as men do. They're less prevalent in the competitive scene because it's male dominated. Simple as that. Women (and anyone in general) find it hard to break into a scene that's dominated by one sole group. Start some female only competitions, let the players develop their skills in an environment that isn't dominated by males and then gradually start doing cross overs and encouraging those women to join the other tournaments.

    No need to set a "male only" group too, keep that as mixed to avoid discouraging anyone. Once the mixed scene gets a better balance between male/female the female only groups could probably be axed.

      'They're less prevalent in the competitive scene because it's male dominated.'

      No one is stopping you creating a all female team. Stop being a hypocrite.

        What? How am I a hypocrite? I stated that women are less prevalent in the competitive scene because it's dominated by males. Pretty simple concept there, if you keep reading I explain that point further...

        Also I'm male so pretty hard for me to make an all female team unless I'm just their coach or something....and I wouldn't want to anyway because I have a full time job and don't devote my life to a game.

    i love how they posted that they are sorry if peoples feelings are hurt, not for the article itself.

    because a persons right to post articles like this doesn't stop because someone's feelings are hurt, and nor should it.

      So I confess to not actually reading the article in question but I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. By all means apologize that you upset someone with what you said but if your content was accurate don't apologize for it.
      It's like if I were to call a 300kg person a fatty, it would be rude and insensitive to be sure, but not exactly wrong.

      That's not really the point. Apologising if "people's feelings are hurt" is the classic non apology- it's not an apology for the content of the article, which was frankly duuuuuuuuumb as shit.

        i think you miss the point completely, why should they apologise for the content of the article?
        should they apologise when 10% of readers get offended? 20%? 30%?

        should they apologise more to someone who is so offended they have to seek counselling, compared to someone show is mildly peeved?

        Perhaps they should set up an online offended registrar(tm) for all who are offended, that can rate the level of outrage each person feels that they received, and they they can send the right level of apology to each individual.

        what about the people that arent offended? dont they have the right to stand up for the article and the author, and let the authors know they shouldnt apologise?

        You want an apology for reading something that offends you, simply because you are offended?

        do my rights stop where your feelings start?

        I might not agree with what you say, but ill defend your right to say it.

          They can say whatever they like, but that doesn't win you a cookie for speaking. If you make blanket statements like women’s emotional vulnerability is considered to be one of the main problems which obstruct and delay their professional progress. with no justification and qualification you can hardly be surprised when people disagree. If it's their prerogative to publish a dumb, evidence free article full of stupid assertions, surely it's our prerogative to criticise their assertions?

          This is nothing to do with your RIGHTS, as this isn't a rights issue in the slightest- they're not being censored, nor is any government agency agitating for them to be taken down.

          They can't be immune from the backlash of their speech. There's no universal right to consequence free speech, and the fact that they published something stupid and when called out on it said "we're sorry you're offended" and showed no understanding as to why people are calling them out or why just maybe people may be offended at women being characterised as overemotional is why this has gotten the response it has. Again, if they're going to offer only a "sorry if you were offended" without any self reflection or acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, their detractors have a point, they can't be immune to the criticism of their non apology

    Never apologise on the internet. Even if you know you fucked up.

    No matter how good your apology is, no matter how sincere it truly may be, someone is still going to declare it is not enough and demand that you pay in blood until the end of time.

      Nah, just apologise as if you aren't a sullen brat. In this instance something along the lines of:
      "We're sorry we attempted authority on a subject on which we're not properly informed. We will try to do better in the future" or "We unreservedly apologise for pushing evidence-free ideology as a means to entrench our positions in the industry".

      Apologies are all well and good when they are actually apologies.

    “heightened emotional response”

    Take another look at that pic of Scarlett. Does she in ANY WAY convey a sense of someone prone to heightened emotional responses?

    I think she may actually be dead! I'm getting a distinct Weekend at Burnie's vibe.

    This is an example of a bad case study. Obviously not very scientific and affected by gender stereo types as oppose to agnostic observation. I hope however this does not dissuade other studies from being published for fear of backlash. If there is an intrinsic reason why there is still so little representation of females in esports it should be known whether that reason is contentious or not.

    Their frustration can be expressed through impulsive behaviour and anger which hinders them from handling their mistakes well.Wait, are we talking about females or just the average online gamer here?

    lets all forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry icecream

      Or you get vanilla ice cream and put strawberry topping into it and just keep stirring until it looks like super thick strawberry yoghurt

        This is an even worse suggestion than anything in their article.

          It's a cheap way of making trashy vanilla ice cream (like Black Gold-level ice cream) more palatable.

    I follow a lot of the League of Legends scene and I have wondered myself why there aren't women up there. But from what I can understand their just aren't that many women at the challenger level, which unfortunately mean there aren't many women who can qualify to play. It may be a sad reality, but for the same reason men and women don't compete in other sports, there may be some physical limitations when competing at the highest level. People don't question why women don't race men in the 100 meter sprint at the olympics. It is not because the Olympics are sexist, but because there is a decide in abilities when competing at that level. For whatever reason, this may carry over into the world of gaming also, not for any sexist reasons, but for the same reason I am not competing. Let's hope there are some brilliant young women who can change this, but if it is forced equality, it defeats the purpose of equality. As talent should be the defining factor in a contest of ability.

    Argh. Spelling.
    *means not mean
    *decide not decide

    *divide! Bloody phone.

    There are scientific studies that proves on a biological, social and psychological level that women are more affected by emotions and have a tendency to not like or succeed at things males like or succeed at, just like STEM related degrees or careers. Everyone should know this as common sense.

      That's also not talking about self interests, passion or drive for select subjects or activities.

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