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Smashing gamer stereotypes

Girls try to find their place in esports community.

On+campus%2C+girl+gamers+can+be+seen+as+a+rarity+with+very+few+females+in+the+Esports+Club.+Defying+stereotypes%2C+junior+Ankita+Kerpal+plays+videgames+in+her+pass+time.
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Smashing gamer stereotypes

On campus, girl gamers can be seen as a rarity with very few females in the Esports Club. Defying stereotypes, junior Ankita Kerpal plays videgames in her pass time.

On campus, girl gamers can be seen as a rarity with very few females in the Esports Club. Defying stereotypes, junior Ankita Kerpal plays videgames in her pass time.

Vihaan Gupta

On campus, girl gamers can be seen as a rarity with very few females in the Esports Club. Defying stereotypes, junior Ankita Kerpal plays videgames in her pass time.

Vihaan Gupta

Vihaan Gupta

On campus, girl gamers can be seen as a rarity with very few females in the Esports Club. Defying stereotypes, junior Ankita Kerpal plays videgames in her pass time.

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Dozens of students filed into the science lab room of AP Biology teacher Chris Ham during Wednesday’s advisory period.

But they weren’t there for tutorials.

They were there for the school’s new Esports Club.

However, in a school full of diversity, there was a noticeable lack of it amongst the 40 or so students in the room.

“From what I saw, in terms of gender diversity, we could really use more females,” Ham said. “But really, [the diversity] wasn’t too shocking, it’s just the general demographic of the esports community.”

From what I saw, in terms of gender diversity, we could really use more females,”

— AP Biology Teacher Chris Ham

That’s what many people mistakenly believe, but the numbers don’t support such claims as a 2012 study by Entertainment Software Association showed that 53 percent of gamers were male and 47 percent female.

But on campus, perception can be reality.

“I was considering trying out for one of the teams, but then I saw the horde of guys that filled up the room,” junior Shin Lee said. “While I don’t want to be stereotypical or sexist, it’s true that a lot more guys take interest in video games than girls. I didn’t want to be the only girl out of tons of guys, mainly because I don’t want my reputation to be “she’s not even good but she joined to be a feminist or be one of the guys” or something dumb like that.”

Most video games still seem geared highly towards male audiences, even though nearly half of American gamers are, in fact, female. Despite these circumstances, an increasing number of girls have chosen to adapt to the violence and action present in these games in order to enjoy the experience of games like League of Legends, Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and more.

“I have no problem playing games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Skyrim, stuff like that,” senior Bailey Johnston said. “I enjoy a lot of their aspects, like the combat, or the open-world exploration, but what is definitely more bothersome is the portrayal of female characters in those type of games. There aren’t a lot of popular, well-designed action games with female leads. I mean, sure, there’s Tomb Raider, but what else? Developers could do so much more if they included more female characters, and that would broaden the appeal of their games a lot. I think that would also encourage a lot of other young girls to play these kind of games for the experience too.”

Developers could do so much more if they included more female characters, and that would broaden the appeal of their games a lot,”

— senior Bailey Johnston

However, in many action games, the only female characters present are of minimal significance to the storyline when there is one, oftentimes solely serving as sex appeal to the audience, thus shifting the interest of the game heavily towards male players.

“I feel like sex appeal definitely has had an effect on the gaming culture and those who are a part of it,” junior Stone Webber said via text. “It kind of changes how people see a game. I play action games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, but compared to [Grand Theft Auto], the audience isn’t as mature or as specific.”

Especially in games that are designed with an abundance of male players in mind, female gamers can feel unwanted or entirely unwelcome.

“There’s really no way a girl can join in something like [esports] without feeling judged,” Lee said. “If she plays badly at tryouts, she’ll get the judgement because she’s bad and only wanted to join for the attention, which really continues to contribute to the stereotype that girls are bad at games. It’s a lot of pressure to take on.”

The gaming community of the modern era has become infinitely more diverse and inclusive, however, female players still often feel isolated online due to the harassment they can be subjected to. Almost 70 percent of female gamers, at one point or another, have chosen to play as a male character in order to avoid the possibility of sexual harassment.

“There’s a lot of drama [in online games] so I usually play by myself, with friends, or with my dad,” freshman Amanda Meng said. “Especially for girls who play action games like shooters or MMOs, a lot of players online can be really sexist in the things they say. Usually I just mute the chat so I can avoid that kind of harassment, but then sometimes it does get to me because it’s just so rude.”

Especially for girls who play action games like shooters or MMOs, a lot of players online can be really sexist in the things they say,”

— freshman Amanda Meng

Many developers, such as those at Blizzard Entertainment, specifically for their game Overwatch, continue to refine the chat system present in-game in order to combat toxic players and harassment, thus encouraging a wider audience to get involved in the gaming community.

“Games like Overwatch and Fortnite I feel like are geared towards everyone, not specifically male or female,” Webber said. “That being said, a lot of developers have a long way to go to balance out the gaming community and the culture surrounding it. Different games are making strides to change this, and hopefully that encourages women to get more involved.”

Especially for women hoping to join the community of game developers like Ally McLean, the fight is just beginning.

When you’re not represented in the leaders, innovators and creators being celebrated in an industry, it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong,” McLean said in an article from The Guardian. “I lost count of the number of male executives or established developers who behaved excruciatingly sexist either towards me or in my presence. I had to fight every instinct to keep pushing and working until I was taken seriously.”

Males have always dominated the gaming community, so I don’t think there’s any one club can do to miraculously balance the playing field,”

— junior Shin Lee

Ultimately, both guys and girls will have to fight to overcome the stereotypes surrounding video games in order to see a more equal representation in the future.

“Males have always dominated the gaming community, so I don’t think there’s any one club can do to miraculously balance the playing field,” Lee said. “Technically, guys and girls have the same opportunities to play the same games, There’s nothing that gives guys an advantage over girls; it’s just stigma, and if females feel there’s a problem with male domination in gaming, they have the option to play games themselves and convince their female friends to play as well.”

Part of the battle to level the gaming playing field is find girls to take the opportunity to expose themselves to some of the male-dominated gaming environments surrounding them, much like the school’s esports club.

“At Liberty, we would still like to have more diversity [in the club],” Ham said. “One of the things that we are planning on doing is having casual tournaments such as Mario Kart and Mario Tennis. This can be a way to encourage more people, especially females, to be involved in gaming without the pressure of serious competition. Really, I just want the members to meet new people, but also to build teamwork, to have competitiveness and fun, and really just enjoy themselves.”

About the Writers
Ava Peinhardt, Staff Reporter

Ava Peinhardt is a junior who is new to the Wingspan staff. While writing has always been a passion of hers, journalism is a new experience that Ava hopes...

Dea-Mallika Divi, Assignment Editor


Dea is a senior who has been doing journalism since her freshman year. She loves movies, reading and listening to music. Her favorite book series is...

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