According to Ruberg, academicians may not be aware of their own biases. Most modern works about eSports speak of these as an educational tool or as a business instrument. However, they do not delve into their dimension as space and dynamics that foster diversity, a sense of community, fair play, or emotional intelligence, among others.
This approach is practical if the intention is only to grow eSports’ economic potential and exploit their usefulness in increasing university enrollment. However, it does not do much for diversity and equity in the spaces that the discipline creates. “I think it’s worth thinking about who you loop in when you want to make more people feel safe and welcome. Business isn’t the opposite of diversity, right? It can be part of the equation if you bring it into consideration.” Professor Ruberg commented. He emphasized that a system focused on business growth can also make room for racial and sexual diversity and gender equality.
When it is not just about skill
When faced with the argument of a low presence of women in varsity and professional eSports leagues, both professional organizations and educational institutions respond that selection and consequent training are based on the level of skills and not on factors such as gender or ethnicity.
This criterion and communication strategy make it clear that, as Ruberg suggested, the structure on which the sport is built is entirely devoid of mechanisms to factor social aspects that could affect both the presence and the performance of social minorities. Ideally, they would have the potential to develop the same skills as players in the dominant social group. However, they face obstacles outside of the game that negatively impact the opportunities they have in comparison.
Under this mostly uniform structure composed of male players with similar social profiles, a player who does not belong to the social majority is an anomaly. He or she is not part of the system, and their integration must take into account aspects and peripheries that would not be considered in an athlete fitting the profile of the majority player. Put simply, being inclusive and striving for a more diverse environment while ensuring quality standards in a class causes more work than just concentrating on operational quality.
To add elements such as diversity, community, and gender perspective to the model upon which eSports programs are built, it is necessary to consider aspects such as the role of socialization when choosing and cultivating fans. Video games are a field of entertainment that, despite having a female presence of almost half of the players, is still seen as a predominantly masculine pastime, especially in its competitive side. The male players are not only motivated to play beginning in childhood; they are also used to the idea that most of the people they will be playing with will be other men. The idea of a woman in this space that has been socialized mostly for males is not just unusual; it also generates resistance and instances of both gender-based bullying and sexual harassment.
It is one thing to say that cyberbullying within online games generally is a severe and under-studied problem that needs urgent attention. However, beyond this, there are bases to argue that gender-based harassment and sexual harassment in these spaces are not only hostile and systemic but that they help maintain an airtight dynamic that limits the discipline of eSports by excluding a significant percentage of players, who are women.
Jonathan McIntosh, a recognized cultural critic, media producer, and co-writer of Tropes vs. Women in Videogames and Anita Sarkeesian, described concisely and determinedly the difference between cyberbullying and gender-based harassment within the world of video games.