Yesterday the internet was alive with discussion about the fact the IeSF had chosen to exclude females from ESports competition specifically for Hearthstone. I was proud to see the discussion come alive and many sites write articles calling for removal of any gender discrimination in competition.
ESports is different in that physical strength is not a factor in competition. There is no real “need” for separating out gender in competition. Today IeSF has responded swiftly by recognizing their mistake publicly. In a statement sent to GamingAngels.com, IeSF General Manager Alex Lim, recognized that the gender separation was part of an old policy that did need to be updated. The organization did not think that they could get female gamers to compete in Hearthstone. Yes, it’s an old way of thinking, but it is definitely promising that the organization acted swiftly and responded. Plus I think it’s great that Alex actually sent us a statement versus ignoring the issue.
They released this public statement where they have created an Open competition so that genders can compete. Again, it’s a start in the right direction.
Here is the statement from Alex:
“My name is Alex Lim, currently in charge of international affairs at IeSF.
For the official stance and decision about this issue as answering to the opinions of gaming communities, please see attached official press release.
To answer your additional question about the rationale of our initial policy to separate the gender division, I hope the following may answer your question:
It could be mistaken in selecting the actual measure to promote women in e-sports, but please note that we tried for good. IeSF did not mean any sexism or gender discrimination, but originally tried to make the scene good for females.
It is important to note the rationale for IeSF’s efforts to join the international sports society, and why IeSF initial created a gender division policy. From the very beginning of its establishment, IeSF had noticed that the life cycle of the preferred games and the gamers who are playing competitively is quite short. With this in mind, the structure of a sports society, which is able to support the athletes to live their life related to the sports or even out of the sports, is vital for the long term success of the players. By providing opportunities to continue school through scholarship IeSF can insure the athlete’s life, even after their retirement from the competition scene, will continue to be successful. For those reasons IeSF has been putting so much efforts to join the international sports society, or to convince international sports authorities to add e-sports in their multi sports events such as 4th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games hosted by Olympic Council of Asia.
To achieve this goal, IeSF has been preparing to apply for Sport Accord membership. While applying IeSF found out that it is one of the requirements to have active women promotion to join. Applying such women promotion project to the structure of its event, IeSF approached this matter by following traditional sports. From the tradition sports scene, men were dominating, and international sports society decided to install women division to increase the involvement of women in more easy and efficient way.
Of course in traditional sports there has been the physiological difference between genders that make it necessary to separate the genders in sports. However, it was hard to apply to e-Sports since there has not been any evidence that can be applied to e-Sports. Though some says there is no physiological factor which may affect the performance of men and women, there are others who believe that dynamic visual acuity and precise control may differ by the gender, which may affect the performance.
It is the third year testing women promotion events, and we truly believe that has grown the women player pool in competitive events. We have been testing Starcraft II and Tekken for Female Event for past 2 years. That is why we set those games as the games for women this year, and for other titles such as Hearthstone is the one that we even try for male division for the first time. So, we could not be sure if we could have the female player pool for such game title. IeSF hopes that both men and women will continue to enjoy and compete in e-Sports and e-Sports can be a unique sport that men and women can both compete at an equal level.
IeSF also want to apologize to anyone that got offended by the initial announcement. As we strive to do the best we can to promote e-Sports as a true sports beyond any barriers,
mistakes might happen along the way, but it is our duty as a community of e-Sports fans and enthusiasts to learn from those mistakes and to make sure they remain in the past.”