Coaches Corner: Gaming From a Female Perspective
I became hooked on League of Legends and esports in the summer of 2015. There was something wildly enchanting about the way that my favorite players approached the game, and I longed to recreate what they did on the map. I had been playing League casually before that time, mostly with friends, but spending the summer watching Fnatic’s perfect split had me hooked. Every game I watched Yellowstar play, I could feel a near magnetism to the game, to the role, to the play style. I wanted to do exactly as he did.
When I started playing more solo queue, I was playing under the in game name Rose. It was a name lifted from one of my Dungeons and Dragons characters, taking it on as my own. What I didn’t anticipate was the negative reaction I would get, playing in an average elo, with a “girly” name. As I climbed through the ranks in game, I ended up changing my name, seeking out something more gender neutral. I tend to pride myself on not caring what others think of me, but it became every game that someone would make a comment-- “stupid egirl” the least of them. At a certain point, it gets to you.
So I changed my in-game name. The comments became less frequent, but by no means did they stop. I played support champions, characters that the community had a tendency to deem “girly.” That was enough for most people. As I climbed from gold to diamond, I’d say I was harassed based on my gender maybe one in ten games. When I hit diamond, it seemed to double. “Boosted egirl, doesn’t deserve the win.” Making use of the “mute all” function in game was an option, but it shouldn’t be a necessity. It just seemed to be that there would always be players who would intentionally feed the enemy team only because I was a woman.
Playing competitively became a bright light in my playing career. Casual tournaments, playing games on stream, being clipped for highlights-- honestly, I enjoyed it. There were still the comments. Twitch chat can be cruel. But things started feeling a lot better when I was playing with five people who genuinely enjoyed the game for the sake of the game, and enjoyed competition for the joy of competing.
From playing in casual tournaments with friends, I ended up being reached out to by a collegiate recruiter. Collegiate, as an environment, has a long way to go but I was happy to put my gameplay to the test. In hindsight, I would have asked more questions about my teammates, and about the environment as a whole. I wasn’t anticipating resistance, based simply on the fact I was a woman. While at the same skill level as my teammates, they didn’t take me as seriously as our other peers. Collegiate administration wants to see diversity in their programs, and it often comes at the cost of team dynamic. Even with the best efforts of our coach, there was a rift that couldn’t be crossed.
My experience in collegiate was disappointing, but I’m stronger for it. I would love to see the collegiate ecosystem grow and change, and become a more welcoming space for everyone within it. Thankfully, through collegiate, I was able to fall in love with coaching even more than playing. I’m using my experience as a player to create an environment that will hopefully help support female players in the future.
Editor's Note: NASEF's goal is to promote inclusion among esports clubs, creating opportunities for ALL. To read more about our efforts to create a winning environment for everyone, please visit our Esports for Everyone page.