Last year I desperately wanted to showcase girl gaming in South Africa. I had this crazy mad idea that I handed over to Mettlestate. They asked Evetech for a venue, spent a stack of their own cash and made it happen. The Valkyrie Challenge is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. But they decided to not stop there.
While I enjoyed a break in December, Mettlestate did not. They met with ASUS and worked to build on the challenge.
Today they announced the ROG Valkyrie Challenge League
Throughout the year there will be 2 online seasons of CSGO. Each season will have a prize pool of R50 000 with first, second and third taking home some of the money. My understanding is that if the league is a hit they may extend to other titles. Here’s the launch video:
I’m pretty stoked about this. I think it will encourage a host of casual female gamers to take their gaming to the next level. I also think it will really help grow the South African Esports scene and increase the pool of competitive players. However, I’m well aware there is going to be backlash.
Why do we need an all female league?
In short, we don’t. Yes, most would argue that gaming is the one space where we’re all equal and genders shouldn’t be separated. There’s a lot of truth in this. But there is also a giant issue in the community when it comes to equality. The community is toxic and women are very often cyber bullied and made to feel uncomfortable to the point that they stop playing.
I’ve actually gone in to depth about this topic on IGN and explained my own issues with the scene that almost caused me to pack it all in. I’ve recently been made aware that two other competitive female gamers have suffered similar abuse and accusations so this isn’t exclusive to me but rather exclusive to anyone who does well and happens to have breasts (IMO).
I also think that we need to do more to actively kill the E Girl stereotype that seems to have flooded esports recently. There are a barrage of streamers and females that seem to promote a message of sexualising women in gaming. Short skirts, cleavage out and posing with a headset or next to a laptop is suddenly the new “female gamer”. I’ve sat back and watched brands throw money at these ladies and men jump on their content with comments of “great legs” and “sexy”. This tweet summed it up for me rather well:
You’re not the faces of eSports nor the gaming community. You are the reason why girls in the community are not taken seriously anymore. https://t.co/PLPc8Om8XO
— Ideal Misty (@MsTrutatj) February 5, 2018
I’m the first to say that women should be empowered and if this is the direction someone chooses to go for to earn a living so be it. But I also think it causes a huge problem for new young female gamers entering the esports space. They’re fed this content and made to believe that this is how they need to behave to make a difference in esports. I can say this with confidence because I’ve had numerous chats with young girls who have raised this with me and highlighted that they feel like they can’t fit in with women competing. Seriously, they’re not even worried about the abuse from men but rather that they don’t fit some stereotypical mould created by a bunch of 40/50 something year old marketing men who sat in a gaming brand boardroom and still believe sex sells their product. Yuck.
For me, something like the ROG Valkyrie Challenge is going to help change this ridiculously sexist mindset. It is going to create a new bunch of esports faces that rise to popularity because of their skills in game and not how much leg or ass crack they show. It is going to be a great way to define new heroes for female gamers to look up and aspire to.
I don’t think female leagues are a long term solution to increasing female interest in esports. Not by a long shot. But for the short term I think they’ll help grow the group and allow a great new space to encourage more players to gain confidence and improve. I really hope the local community get behind this because I think what Mettlestate and ASUS is doing is awesome. Plus more tournaments are always good. I have no doubt this is going to get a bit of hate as well. I think this is a good thing because it will start conversations and dialogue about a topic that desperately needs more focus.
Who will be setting up a team to enter this?