Crowded gaming zones with little boys fighting over coins and computers traditionally formed the bedrock of gaming in Asia. These rooms nourish future “gamers” who dominate the Gaming community. However, these are the same spaces that expose the systemic exclusion of women from gaming.
All over the world, esports is a field of work that is widely dominated by men. Pleasantly enough, more women have come to the fore by showcasing their gaming skills and talent on live broadcasts. However, in Asia, you could count the number of women who actively partake in esports. Why? You might ask.
The systematic exclusion of women from gaming is embedded in the grassroots. Excluded from gaming cafes, and then excluded from the practical field of work; it’s a never-ending vicious cycle. A few who escaped set professions of teaching and nursing emerged as influential figures in gaming despite the setbacks. However, they try twice as hard to beat the odds, learn from negative criticism, turn hate into learning lessons, and fight the thought of quitting.
Consequently, years of exclusion has created an industry where people don’t know how to accommodate women, live streams testify. The prolific field of esports branches into dozens of areas of work and jobs. Streaming is one that disrobes that prejudice against women in gaming blatantly.
Dream job, not a nightmare
Streaming in itself is not an easy job. To an outsider, the profession where you seemingly have control over your life sounds like a lively ride. However, the job is mostly about morphing your content consistently for hordes of netizens, who would immediately replace you if the content’s quality wavers even a bit. It’s all part of the job.
Challenges faced by women in gaming differ widely from regular streaming and viewer issues. Playing a game while dealing with hate might be a recurring challenge for all streamers. However, for women, it’s a part of every single broadcast. Addition of gender discrimination and harassment only makes streaming a nightmare for women. A female gaming streamer’s live chat undresses the reality of a community that doesn’t want to see a woman step into this male-dominated sector. Be it YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch; the hatemongers dig up a female streamer only to troll.
Women breaking down on live broadcast and then forced to quit streams is not a rare occurrence. Numerous streamers on Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube share a similar experience where a broadcast would be reduced to nothing but gender. The stressful part about the whole shebang is that there’s nothing the streamer herself can do. For example, Twitch streamers who share explicit content are pegged as prostitutes. Those who don’t are bullied and harassed. Recently, Jinnytty quit her stream after her chat spammed inappropriate messages, prompting her to show skin.
One may think that streamers who focus primarily on games would have a different tale to tell. Women who fall into the category of “real gamers” confirm that’s not the case. Female streamers aren’t given any leeway to make mistakes in-game. Bad day? Not allowed.
Ayesha “Mythica” Samman has emerged as one of the top esports streamers in Pakistan. It’s challenging to find a male esports streamer with a content that Mythica is pushing through. However, her esports streams are less about the game, but more about her appearance and personal life. Earlier this month, the Valorant streamer burst into tears on live stream because of horrible hate-raid in her chat. A group of people rallied her stream, bullying her for not playing well.
Simply put, if a regular male streamer performs poorly, he’d be held accountable for his own play. However, female streamers aren’t allowed that luxury. If one streamer struggles with a game, it somehow translates to ” all girls are bad at video games.” The unanimous backseat gamers would expect you to play perfectly while dealing with derogatory comments.
“She has it easy”
Apart from demotivating a woman, the public also refuses to give credit to successful streamers, despite the hate. Their progress is mostly attributed to “good looks” or plainly because “she’s a girl.” Félix “xQc” Lengyel earlier commented on how people feel threatened by a female streamer’s success.
“There isn’t a lot of… crazy successful streamer girls because it’s a male-dominant sector. There’s like 2000 successful guys, and when there’s one girl that succeeds, you feel threatened enough to discredit their success,” Said xQc.
It’s hard to deduce how a minority in a male-dominated field could possibly “have it easy”? In an ecosystem that has been designed to suit men, women are working twice as hard. Female streamers are not only keeping ahead of the competition, but they are doing it while furnishing a table for women from scratch. It’s tough to have it easy when your hands are filled with ten tasks and mind with hate comments.
Fortunately, the community is birthing versed leaders who’re trying their level best to rid it of toxicity and sexism. However, the dirty slate won’t be wiped clean unless people start acknowledging the discrimination and deal with it individually.
Step one? Don’t be toxic.