Nearly every major enthusiast gaming outlet decided to purposefully craft a gender identity narrative around a story about a female e-sports player going by the name of “Ellie” being “harassed” out of the Overwatch Contenders league. However, that story turned out to be fake news because “Ellie” didn’t exist, and it was actually a profile created by a male gamer as part of a “social experiment”. When media outlets were called out about the fake news, some outlets decided to fire back at the community and dissipate the damage by putting the blame on the e-sports industry instead of apologizing for misreporting the story.
One such outlet that engaged in dishonest deflection is Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Author Jay Castello published a piece on January 5th, 2019, following the revelation that the entire “Ellie” situation was fake news, and attempted to reorient the conversation around the perception of women in e-sports after more than two dozen outlets published fake news surrounding the “Ellie” controversy.
In fact, Castello dismissed the reason why this blew up in the first place: Kotaku ran with a story it couldn’t verify using the Social Justice angle and it turned out to be fake news.
Instead, Castello uses it to complain about the treatment of women in e-sports, writing…
“In the end, though, who Ellie was and what their motivations were are secondary to the damaging effect that they’ve had on women in the esports industry.
“Those who immediately disbelieved Ellie often claimed that it had nothing to do with gender, and yet these same kinds of accusations always seems to come up for top female players, regardless of their veracity.”
This is part of the new narrative that some outlets will likely take after ending up with lots of egg on their face for purposefully publishing misinformation without vetting the skepticism put forward by the community. In fact, the community had said from the start that Ellie was just a concoction by a top male player in Overwatch, and outlets like PC Gamer censured the community by calling them “conspiracy theorists” and “trolls”. Except those “conspiracy theorists” and “trolls” were right.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s article also proceeds to create a strawman, stating that the conservation that this “social experiment” created needs to examine the “systemic barriers” posed to females attempting to get into e-sports, with Castello writing…
“If “Ellie” truly was a social experiment, it was a poor one. If designed to show what women experience, actually listening to women has the same effect without setting us back. And if designed to show that women get easily picked up by teams, perhaps look at the reaction to see what systemic barriers actually exist.”
Castello doesn’t actually discuss what these “systemic barriers” are, because they don’t exist. If you’re good, you’re going to get recruited to a top e-sports team. It’s as simple as that. Competitive electronic gaming doesn’t discriminate on any factor other than skill. If you are not skilled at the game, you likely won’t be recruited. This is called a merit based system, because it means that players who fail to maintain a certain level of play will no longer be valued for their contributions, regardless of age, gender, race, or religion.
However, Castello makes it known that they either don’t understand what the word “meritocracy” means or there’s a blatant attempt to redefine its meaning. Much like either other Leftist website that misreported on the “Ellie” situation, Castello rounds out the article by criticizing the e-sports industry for relying on player skill through a system of meritocracy, writing…
“Many made light of the situation or fell back on old arguments about esports being a meritocracy. “There are no gender limitations in esports, if someone is good they get picked up,” tweeted (currently unsigned) World Cup player Jørgen “Decod” Myrlund, apparently somehow missing literally everything this situation has proved about gender limitations in esports.”
Actually, there is nothing in this situation that proved anything “about gender limitations in e-sports”.
In fact, Castello’s examples of these “limitations” are actually all isolated anecdotes: a few guys allegedly dropped out of games or went AFK because a female player joined their game, but there are also cases where people drop out of games because someone isn’t a high enough rank or someone is too high.
You’ve got players like TimTheTatMan who rage quit some games because people didn’t play the right characters.
There’s also videos from YouTubers like TheRealKenzo who had various high-level players rage-quit because they were winning with Hanzo.
There is literally an entire YouTube culture themed around people rage quitting games for one reason or another.
Anyone can use any isolated anecdotes of someone raging, someone quitting, or someone harassing another player to frame the situation as an “ism”, which is what Castello tried to do by singling out a few cases where someone quit because someone else joined a game.
The only other example Castello relies on to claim that e-sports isn’t meritocratic is a situation involving housing, writing…
“The Outlaws, notably, were one of the teams that once used another barrier to entry, single-gender team houses, to explain why they couldn’t pick up Geguri. This is an excuse that’s also been used to bar other women, like Molly “Avalla” Kim.”
And the minute they let a girl into the house and some incident occurs between the male and female players, Rock, Paper, Shotgun would be one of the first outlets to castigate The Outlaws for the incident occurring. That’s also not a gender barrier issue, it’s a financial issue. Unless, of course, Rock, Paper, Shotgun was going to front the money for The Outlaws to rent a second house for female recruits?
In the end, the media is as corrupt as ever, as outlined by analyst and consultant Rod Breslau, who pointed out how the fake news that originated from Kotaku.
Unintentionally, certain game/culture journalists from sites like Kotaku and Polygon ran with Ellie’s removal without proper due diligence, now a recurring problem for the media’s esports coverage. All to the detriment of the serious issue of women facing harassment in games.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 6, 2019
Games media will continue to deflect culpability for turning this whole story into a giant catastrophe that should highlight the continued failings of media outlets.
As stated in the original article detailing Kotaku’s corruption regarding “Ellie”, this incident has done nothing more than validate every single complaint #GamerGate made about the journalistic malfeasance exercised by games media.
(Main image courtesy of Tumblr)