At this year’s European Women In Games Conference set to take place in London, England, SimBin will be hosting a women-only racing tournament called “Women and Wheels”. The event is supposed to celebrate women in the automotive industry, as well as women in e-sports. A percentage of the revenue generated from the event will also go toward female-focused charities.
After receiving some “positive feedback” from top name car manufacturers about focusing on a female-centric e-sports competition, SimBin studio head, Allan Speed, explained that he thought it was a good idea to move forward with trying to pressure more women to get involved with e-sports…
“We’re thrilled to announce Women and Wheels. As a developer, we’re acutely aware of the low female participation in Esports. Around 7% of our race competitors are female. Unbelievably, that’s probably over average. We want to see more women enjoying the thrills and spills of the virtual track, and Esports in general. At SimBin we’ve achieved 50/50 gender balance in our studio workforce, so we thought we’d try to encourage more women to compete in our competitions too.”
SimBin is known for RaceRoom Racing Experience, RACE Pro, GTR Evolution and GT Legends. They’ve made mostly PC-focused racing titles with a few crossovers into home console territory.
They’re hoping to ride the wave of the current gender-focused media campaigns that have been widely broadcast across the entertainment landscape, from television to movies to video games.
The press release indicates that there are pay gaps, misogyny and inequality rife within the gaming industry, and that they need to balance this out by making women-only teams, leagues and competitions. The press release states…
“[E-sports is] where women can compete on an equal playing field with men but currently Esports has numerous gender equality and participation challenges. Approximately 50% of video game players are now female but that number drops dramatically to 15% for Esports viewers and only 5% for Esports players. Professional Esports has major earnings gaps between men and women, plus misogyny and online bullying are considerable problems.”
There are a lot of wide-sweeping assumptions going on there, especially considering that the reason there are earning gaps in pay between men and women in e-sports is because you have to win to earn money. Competitions typically don’t award losers the same as winners.
Nevertheless, Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO of advocacy group Women in Games, believes that by making more women-only groups in the e-sports sector, more women will magically take an interest in motorsports equivalent to men, mentioning in the press release…
“It’s a shame we need women-only teams, leagues and competitions in Esports but until the sector fully matures, becomes more gender balanced and takes steps to eradicate online bullying and misogyny, they represent a great way to get more women involved by building communities, confidence and skills.”
This line of thinking seems to indicate there’s some sort of barrier keeping women out of motorsports altogether. A key element here in the argument that misogyny, pay gaps and harassment have dwindled interest in racing e-sports runs counter to real life interest in real life motorsports. As noted above, they claim only 15% of e-sports viewers are female. However, according to Nielsen Media’s statistics, the percentage is closer to 23% of viewership being females. The thing is, there’s nothing keeping females from watching e-sports.
It’s identical to real life sports. ESPN, FS1 and NBCSN focus mostly on the 18-34 male demographic when it comes to sports, and for the most part that’s who the majority of the audience is who tunes in, according to Awful Announcing and Eurosports’ corporate report.
There’s no patriarchal force field preventing women from watching motorsports on TV or via live-stream, nor is there some energy barrier preventing them from attending motorsports events or even buying racing games. In fact, Quantic Foundry’s report indicated that only 6% of the female gamers that took part in their survey had any interest at all in playing racing games, which seems to fit in line with Simbin’s stats showing that only 7% of their racing audience are females.
Perhaps the low viewership of e-sports racing, and participating in e-sports racing may simply be due to the fact that majority of females just aren’t as interested in virtual motorsports? But that’s likely not going to stop some companies from attempting to drag women into hobbies in order to balance the “gender divide”.