How Can We Strive For More Esports Inclusivity?

How can we make Esports inclusivity better?
Megan Dobson

Esports often have a reputation for being unwelcoming to LGBTQIA+ players. How can we strive for more Esports inclusivity? In this article, we will be taking a look at steps the community can take to welcome LBGTQ+ players.

A Lack of Gender Inclusivity

The Esports community lacks diverse representation. For example, Esports inclusivity is severely lacking, with professional and ranked matches still mostly separated by gender. I find this troubling for several reasons.

Firstly, Esports, unlike traditional sports, is measured by ability instead of physical attributes. It is evident that male esports gamers are favoured over female gamers. Especially as there is a pay gap for male and female players, and female players find this to be off-putting. Why would a female player wish to engage in a community where she is unvalued?

Secondly, it is also clear separate gender categories will force uncomfortable conversations onto people who do not want to be in a category, or transitioning individuals. Trans folk are discriminated against in almost all sports, with many people refusing to accept the person inside who the individual wishes to be.

This, along with strict rules about gender, keeps these people out of Esports. It’s easy to see why people think badly of the esports community. But, if everyone works together to make it more welcoming to all people, no matter their gender, things can get better.

Creating characters in games such as Overwatch (Blizzard entertainment) like Tracer who is openly a part of the LGBTQ+ community encourages individuals to game in a created safe space. Because of this, it is through the creation of characters that normalising LGBTQ+ relationships will show the community that they are represented and actively avoid othering. With this, we will increase Esports inclusivity.

Finally, Esports’ inclusivity can expand if we actively fight against gendered matches. If we include all genders based on their ability and not their physical attributes, women, trans and genderfluid individuals will feel included and represented. And let us remember that everyone deserves to feel seen.

Community Hate and How We Can Moderate It

Esports inclusivity is difficult to moderate because of player behaviour. Without a doubt, with every good person in this world, there is one who will challenge this. In this situation, it is evident that homophobia and sexism used as insults often happen. Because of this, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is seen negatively.

The current method of dealing with hate towards the community is not effective. Currently, Esports inclusivity rules focus on monetary punishment. Banning individuals, and implementing fines and sensors only really punish those in a lower income bracket. If you can pay the fine and pay for a new account, a small grievance is all you receive.

The truth is, I don’t think there is one answer to increasing Esports inclusivity. It is a complex subject that involves challenging societies’ nuclear mindset. We must actively challenge homophobic and transphobic behaviour through the esports community coming together. Facing this with a united front from gamers will show trolls and oppressors that they should know they are not tolerated.

Consequently, there is still hope organisations will do more and show this behaviour is not tolerated. The community deserves more support.

Current Activism for Esports Inclusivity

Although there are current issues with Esports inclusivity, there is help available. Evidently, the LGBTQ+ community has set up several safe spaces and inclusive communities for gamers. You can find several petitions to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in esports which I will link below. Viewing this can definitely inspire hope and show that there are people in your corner.

Several communities encourage LGBTQ+ players to join them in a safe space, such as ‘Gayming Magzine’. As well as this, there is evidence showing that banding together helps. The ‘Stop the UAE Rainbow Six: Siege Major in 2022. This helped move the location to a place that is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, and where their life remain unthreatened.

There is help out there if you are struggling with bullying online and there are people here to support you.

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