“A pure meritocracy blind to identity”: Exploring the Online Responses to All-Female Teams in Reddit

Siutila Miia Havaste Ellinoora
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

Despite recent growth and popularity, esports as a scene is struggling with a number of problems ranging from payment problems and cheating to questionable treatment based on various factors such as race and gender. In this paper we seek to uncover how perceptions of women in esports are guided by stereotypes of all-female teams and ‘girl-gamers’. Our data consists of 952 Reddit-comments on two announcements of all-female teams in League of Legends and Counter-Strike:Global Offensive. The nature of esports was seen as a working meritocracy where only player skill matters. Especially all-female teams were perceived to be a threat to this order, since they lack dedication and have ulterior motives for playing the game. Ultimately, getting to visibly exist as a woman in the scene was a reward for compliance in the esports meritocracy: exhibiting skill, playing in mixed teams and tolerating harassment.