Hearthstone is probably the most successful online card game at the moment. It’s wide appeal has managed to capture the attention of people who don’t usually play card games. However, the game has recently been the backdrop for a very large controversy. A post in Reddit pointed out that a Hearthstone qualifier being held in Finland was only open to male competitors.
This stipulation is not the fault of the Finnish organisers, or even that of Hearthstone’s developer Blizzard, instead it would appear to be an issue with the International eSports Federation (IeSF). The qualifier in question is leading up to the IeSF World Championship, which has separate divisions for men and women. Oddly enough, the separate divisions will not be playing the same games. In fact, Hearthstone is scheduled as mens event; While women will only be competing in Starcraft II and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Even stranger still is the fact that Tekken is being held as a women only event, with the men competing in Ultra Street Fighter IV instead.
PC Gamer followed up with the Korean based IeSF to discover why this division is happening in an event that has traditionally allowed men and women to compete against each other without discrimination. The IeSF responded with this statement:
“The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.”
Nobody is sure why events would need to be segregated to be considered as a legitimate sport and the backlash against the news has spread across multiple gaming communities. The argument is that there is no reason for men and women to play in the same event as physical differences have little effect in the digital space. Especially for one as cerebral as Hearthstone.
While it is admirable that the efforts to get eSports recognised as a legitimate sport have been gaining momentum, this kind of archaic division to provide artificial equality is a massive step back. The IeSF has been trying to justify its decisions on its Facebook page, although that has done nothing to actually solve the problem.
[Update @ July 3, 5:03pm]: The IeSF has since revised it’s plans and has changed the men’s events into “open for all” events.
[Source: PC Gamer]