Silly women. You want equality? The ability to play and compete against the big, scary men? What were you thinking? At least that’s what these guys planning a LAN party in Austin, TX think. The LAN party is to celebrate the launch of Battlefield 3 (a game many of us here play). At first they said:
Are there other restrictions? Yes. Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.
Now the text has been updated due to the level of blog coverage. The event is now a “gentleman’s retreat”. Sort of a getaway where men can grunt and pound their chest and feel better about their manhood.
The truth is that the organizers are just plain lazy and think very little of their audience that may attend the LAN. They think so little of their audience, that they fear that male gamers will not be able to handle themselves or behave as adults around women. So rather than confront that and create an environment that is safe for all, the solution is to isolate them.
Most if not all conventions/events (I’ve never been to one that doesn’t have one) have a code of conduct. If you misbehave, you’re out. You don’t get your money back, and you don’t get to play. The organizers of this event are saying that they don’t want to deal with any ground rules. No level of respect for other players. Because while men are allowed, there can still be a decent amount of racism and homophobia. But it’s Men vs Men right? So is bad behavior allowed because men should expect to men to behave that way?
Some may say…well there are women only events (although I can only think of one competitive event that was female only). I believe that it can be okay to have male only or female only events. That’s the organizers’ choice. The problem with this particular LAN is that the organizers are specifically stating that the choice is due to the fact that they are unable to control the unruly men. That they would rather exclude an entire gender, then deal with the fact that they have immature boys that attend their events. That is where the problem lies.
In the end, it comes down to a choice. Organizations like Major League Gaming, have decided that they will take responsibility to make sure they create an environment that is about the competition and the games and is safe for all consumers. The feedback I have received on Twitter is that MLG has made efforts to make sure there is feeling that everyone is welcome there regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
I would love to say that the organizers of this LAN in Austin are alone in their action, but I have heard repeatedly about the gender and sexual bias in competitive fighting games. Today, a twitter friend wrote about her experience at a Magic the Gathering tournament where the male was a complete douchebag when he lost to her. This overall behavior is uncalled for and all organizations have a responsibility to stop encouraging it. By ignoring the issue, or creating a male only space, you contribute to the stereotype of male gamers. I would also say that it comes off as condoning their behavior.
What can we do about it? That’s the question I put out there for all of you to think about. These organizers are obviously not going to change their stance. And really, if all of a sudden they did, I wouldn’t feel comfortable attending. But this attitude, one that men behave the way they do and there is nothing we can do about it, needs to change. Men and women can both act like idiots when they play. It’s not a gender thing. Instead we need to create an environment where unsportsmanlike behavior just isn’t tolerated. If competitive e-sports are going to be taken seriously, it needs to grow up. That means, forcing the attendees to behave like adults. Maybe you don’t have to slap hands and say good game after, but we should be able to end the toleration of slurs and descriptions of rape.
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