The Finnish Hearthstone Paradox: Banning Women To Promote Women In E-Sports

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

The Finnish Hearthstone Paradox: Banning Women To Promote Women In E-Sports

We've heard a lot over the last few months about women in gaming, particularly in terms of professional gaming but also in regular gaming as well, and for the most part, quite a few people seem to agree that having women involved in gaming is a good thing. Different perspectives and all like that can't really be a bad thing, and on the off chance women make games that aren't particularly interesting to the male demographic, then the market will respond and those games won't do well. But a strange new development in professional e-sports emerged recently as the Finnish Assembly recently banned women from a Hearthstone tournament, for reasons that were really only clear under a very narrow viewpoint.

This was a staggering development; in an era where women in gaming is being championed on many sides, and even most of the gamers are at least somewhat in favor of such a development. But the Finnish Assembly put out the word that, as far as the Hearthstone tourney went, you needed a Y chromosome to play. “The participation is open only to Finnish male players,” said an official statement, and that rocked a lot of worlds out there. The explanation behind this odd move was seemingly convoluted, but made at least a bit of sense under a very certain viewpoint. The Assembly issued a note of clarification, saying:

“In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation's (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8 [round of eight]) among other things.”

The idea here was that, much like physical sports, there needed to be a certain amount of male / female segregation. Chess, the Assembly noted, was also divided into male and female leagues, as are many common sports. There's a WNBA, after all, and male and female golfers are seldom seen on the same green.

Yet the issue here is somewhat different. Indeed, in physical sports, the physical features of a man can often put a woman at a disadvantage. The differences in upper body strength are frequently cited, and often produce disparate results. But this is not a physical sport, where a man would walk into a golf tournament and have an automatic 40 yard bonus or so per drive. This is a matter strictly of mind and hand-eye coordination. While perhaps, given the nature of the tournament, the segregation does make some sense, perhaps the point here should be that the whole tournament should be engineered appropriately so that no segregation is necessary.

The whole point of this endeavor is to get more women in e-sports. The biggest thrust we can make in that department is to declare women in every way the equal of men, and set up the tournaments accordingly. Women play against and with men at every step on the way. This is a big opportunity for gamers to lead the way in sports by offering up what amounts to the first co-ed sport of its kind. The ground is comparatively level at the start; perhaps there are some small differences in hand-eye coordination or short-range manual dexterity or perhaps even strategic thinking, but surely a woman would not be able to compete. We've seen it happen too many times to believe anything but.

In this case, considering how the tournament is structured, the Finns really didn't have much choice but to ban women. The problem seems to be here that the tournament was never structured properly to begin with, and should have been reconstructed so as to allow full gender integration. Professional gaming may be the best chance to make a full and clean start, and building gender equality right in from the start is a great move to make.

Featured Events