International e-Sports Federation Now Allowing Women to Play Hearthstone – PC Magazine

South Korea’s International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) has updated its stance on gender division for the organization’s video gaming World Championships. Here’s the short version: After an emergency meeting by the IeSF board, the organization decided that women will now be allowed to compete in Blizzard’s Hearthstone game, as well as all the other tournaments at its November World Championship event, which was previously a men-only affair.

If that sounds a bit silly, we’d have to agree with you. However, we need to go all the way back to the beginning in order to fully address the gender controversy in the e-sports world from the last few days.

The issue first flared up when a Reddit user posted an image of a tournament announcement from the Finnish eSports Federation for its Assembly Summer 2014 event. The notice stipulated that the Hearthstone tournament, a qualifier for the IeSF World Championship Tournament, would only be open to “Finnish male players.” As you might expect, the listing (rightfully) drew a number of raised eyebrows among the e-sports community.

That wasn’t designed to be a sexist move, however — at least, not according to what representatives from Assembly Summer 2014 were 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) among other things,” said the event’s head admin, Markus Koskivirta, in a statement provided to PC Gamer.

The IeSF, in an effort to “promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports” — according to a Facebook comment the organization posted — divided up the various tournaments of its November World Championship into male and female divisions. According to a second comment, the move was designed to promote female players by hosting female-only competitions. It was also an attempt to bring e-sports closer in line with “international sports regulations,” and the organization pointed to the existence of male and female divisions for high-level chess tournaments as one such example.

At said November World Championship, female gamers were limited to just two titles: Starcraft 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Men, however, would be allowed to compete in tournaments for Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, and Ultra Street Fighter IV.

IeSF’s removal of gender restrictions on gaming now opens up all of the aforementioned games to players of all genders. In addition, a separate female-only competition will exist at the November event, which will still consist of Starcraft 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

“The IeSF Board addressed its reason for maintaining events for women, citing the importance of providing female gamers with ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports—currently a male-dominated industry. Female gamers make up half of the world’s gaming population, but only a small percentage of e-Sports competitors are women. The IeSF’s female-only competitions aim to bring more diversity to competitive play by improving the representation of women at these events. Without efforts to improve representation, e-Sports can’t achieve true gender equality,” reads iESF’s statement.

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