GIRLS SUPPORT GIRLS: Women should fight sexism in gaming

When I entered the first eSports meeting in September 2022, I was appalled at the underwhelming amount of girls present in that room — about three, including myself. 

Following several monthly meetings this school year, that number dwindled to one — me.  

Some girls in the eSports scene would have seen this as a sign to turn tail and run. 

Part of me wanted to. 

eSports and gaming have always been male-dominated fields. Everything I hear from other women in gaming through friends or social media are like horror stories about their experiences with sexist men telling them to stop playing games just because of their gender.

According to an October 2022 article, only 5% of professional eSports players consisted of women.  I am honored to represent my minority, however, it’s also frightening to be so heavily outnumbered. 

As someone who has enjoyed playing online games like Overwatch and Valorant since I was 8 years old, I’ve had experiences of my own before I was even 10 in which men asked me creepy questions or straight-up told me I was worse because of my gender over in-game chat.

A common suggestion for other female gamers out there like me: simply mute sexist gamers online or leave the voice chat. 

However, this doesn’t stop the actual problem at hand.   

Women should not be barred from voice chat while men use it hassle-free. 

A lot of girls, including myself, follow those suggestions because they don’t know how to stand up for themselves out of shyness or fear of backlash.

When I first joined the Sunny Hills Overwatch team this school year, I was extremely concerned about how the other players would treat me. 

Because of my past experiences, I expected toxicity to persist even in high school teams, so I was pleasantly surprised at the SH Overwatch team’s welcoming and forgiving atmosphere.
When I made a mistake or bad play, instead of yelling criticisms at me like, “This is why girls can’t play games,” my teammates simply said, “That’s unlucky,” or “It’s fine, just go with it.” 

It was such a refreshing break from all the widespread hate that’s unfortunately so common in the game

This didn’t stop the sexists in my personal games.

But instead of standing on the sidelines and ignoring them, I shot them down. 

The positive atmosphere from my team helped me realize that “normal gaming culture” shouldn’t include sexism, and I stopped absorbing people’s sexist comments.

I always knew that it was better to do something rather than nothing, and after joining eSports, I found the confidence to take my advice.

Of course, toxicity will always be prevalent in competitive games; that’s how it’s always been. But when people start directing that behavior to something uncontrollable like gender, then it becomes a problem. 

That’s why we, as women, must stand united and find the confidence to stand up for ourselves. 

To the other girls afraid of criticism like I was, it’s better to take your chances than to miss an opportunity.