Why Has Esports Struggled to Become Woman Friendly?

Esports has been historically tough for women and girls to navigate. Women that have made it professionally, like Geguri, have found themselves bombarded with scrutiny over their appearance, in addition to hand-wringing over the choice of characters they decide to play. And of course, there’s more than the occasional harassment from both colleagues and fans.

Kotaku spoke with 28 female employees of Riot just late last year. Riot is the developer that published the insanely popular League of Legends, one esport defining hit. Kotaku found that the “bro culture” of the company easily suffocated its female employees to the point they were oftentimes forced to quit.

Though Riot contests the assessment, Kotaku routinely found that working in the company was extremely distressing for its female employees. Oftentimes, they had to contend with the sexism that was rife in the company.

Geguri is Not Alone

Perhaps what’s so frustrating about the makeup of the gaming industry is that it seems to scarcely represent its players. In fact, 45 percent of gamers are female. But you wouldn’t know it waiting around for the validation of esports.

That’s why players like Geguri, aka Kim Se-Yeo, are a beacon to female gamers around the world. She has gone on record as saying that she doesn’t want to be famous merely as a female gamer. Though, she adds that she is grateful for the women who view her this way.

And though it’s unfortunate, can you blame her? There has been a heap of criticism against her for exactly this reason. Perhaps it even influenced motivations behind cheating accusations earlier in her career, when her shooting aim was a little too spot-on for some fans.

It’s certainly led fans to deem her appearance “un-feminine” and seems to have left her grappling with loads of insecurities. She has regularly apologized to her fans for being “ugly” and “fat,” for example.

In this case, she seems to have a supportive coach. Not to mention the fact that she’s also received an outpouring of support from female gamers all over the globe.

But is it enough to counteract the full weight of an industry that makes sport of the insecurities of the girls and women that support it? For, as of now, Geguri isn’t only playing for herself. She is being saddled with the hopes and dreams of female gamers across the world.

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