An Opinion Piece #4
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
In our community there are probably one or two blogs made a day asking for help with women. That's not what this is about. Not really, but maybe a little. A lot of people are probably not going to agree with what I have to say, but it's something I wonder about often and it seems it's finally time to put it all into a notepad file.
Allow me to tell you a story about my grandma. When I was a little kid, along with my cousins and brothers, sometimes we would visit my grandma's house and play a game called Gin Rummy. It's a card game of sorts, that involves a great deal of luck, but also a fair amount of skill which usually determines the winner in the long run. My grandma used to say 'I don't let people win, I don't care if they're kids or not.' Since you can get lucky in Gin Rummy it's possible to win a single hand even if you have no idea what you're doing, but since the game is played over many hands, the variance (to use a poker term) usually evens out and leaves the skilled player ahead in the end. That's a good formula for a kid to feel elated about a hand or two he or she gets lucky in, while not demeaning the kid by letting him or her win.
And it is demeaning to let someone win a game. Victory becomes meaningless and so does the game. I think most people know when they've won just because someone let them. That's not the same as giving yourself a handicap, or not trying your very hardest to win. It's not the same as playing in a way that teaches your beginner opponents, or making suggestions that might help them (which you would keep to yourself if you were desperate to win). Giving someone the game means they won because of who they are, not how they played. I think that's a poor lesson to teach children, and I'm glad my grandma had her attitude.
As you grow older and gender becomes a more defining part of your personality, you realise that girls and boys are supposed to treat each other in special ways. A man is supposed to let a woman win. It's apparently called chivalry.
I don't think you do favours for kids when you let them win, and I don't think you do favours for a woman (even a woman you're interested in) when you let her win. It's unattractive to be super competitive and stomp her into the ground, but when you are playing a game you're skilled at and you let her win, you're showing you don't take her seriously at all. This is a strong part of many cultures and it's what we've been lead to believe our roles as men and women are, but I think that this is a core factor to why women have less presence than men in eSports and other fields of mental competition.
I'm about as far from being a Biology major as one can get, but I know a thing or two from my personal studies and what I remember from high school. It's a pretty obvious fact that men have greater (in terms of mass) bones and muscles, especially on the upper half of the body. This makes contact sports like Hockey and American Football necessarily divided into leagues based on gender, and necessarily more entertaining to watch those whose bodies suggest success in a sport. However, I don't believe the same is true about women and men's brains.
It is popular pseudo-science (I dare call it) that women and men's actions are greatly determined by testosterone and estrogen levels. That testosterone is the competitive hormone and without as much of it women are unable to achieve the same drive to succeed as men have.
It is also possible to conclude that because of women's menstrual cycles, they necessarily are impaired once a month for a few days and thus have less time than men to devote to their competitive aspiration.
I don't really know the truth of either, to be honest. I'm inclined to say it's bullshit. I'm inclined to think that everyone who decides men are naturally dominant and women are naturally submissive is a chauvinistic moron. We're always trying to define people by gender. We're always trying to say why women are not succeeding here where men are. I think the reason is the very fact that we are so obsessed with gender and asking those questions.
A hundred years ago Joseph Conrad wrote in Heart of Darkness:
It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.
I hope that everyone reading this blog can see how blatantly awful the character Marlow is being when he makes this statement. "The fairer sex," as women are sometimes called, is putting women up on a pedestal, and then putting that pedestal some place where it can never achieve anything. If you let a girl win, you don't allow her to be competitive. You pretend women are above competition. You deny the opportunity for a woman to decide for herself.
It's not that it's men's fault. It's the way our culture works. In the same way that women can hardly be blamed for not telling men to play seriously. They adopt the role that is being pushed on them, that of thinking themselves above competition. It takes huge social movements for women to be taken seriously as writers, for women to be allowed to work as skilled labourers, and indeed, it'll take another grand social movement for women to break into mental games for which their bodies are at no significant disadvantage.
Women in Progaming
Obviously I've been leading this toward StarCraft this whole time. Why aren't female players successful in pro StarCraft? I mean their records and level of competition, of course, not popularity or monetary value. If you agree with the premises I've laid out, the conclusion is obvious: The reason women suck on the pro level of StarCraft is because women are told in our cultures not to compete. I don't know how bad it is in Korea, this is my guess.
So why does TossGirl play on the B team? The answer is why wouldn't she? She's just one girl. The reason Canada and Russia have many hockey players in the NHL is because they both are countries with a huge pool of interested players to draw from. How many girls, compared to boys, are trying to become progamers? About as many Brazilians that are trying to play Hockey? Even if her team takes her seriously, TossGirl was a girl with determination to overcome the role she's supposed to fill as a woman. That goes a long way, but it doesn't make her a genius. There needs to be a greater pool of women trying to become progamers (and people taking them seriously) for one genius to emerge. Besides, at this point she's as old as Boxer (in terms of her career), and he sucks at SC1 now too (comparatively).
The fact that there even were women leagues (as opposed to letting women just compete with the guys) already segregated the competition and left them falling behind. Why do we feel it necessary to say women aren't good enough to compete with guys in StarCraft? If you tell a lie often enough it becomes true. If you're told your whole life you aren't as good as someone else, you will start to believe it. It's really rare for someone to deny that and fight against it, admirable and desirable as such a trait may be, and even rarer for that same person to be talented enough to prove it to the rest of the world.
If you take anything from this...
Don't let someone win just because of their age or gender. Go easy if they are new, but respect them and allow them to compete.
There are many girls who play games because their older brother does and as siblings their identity as female is not threatened by playing together. This is where I predict women gamers will begin to emerge from if they are taken seriously. If they are taken seriously, then one day they won’t need an older brother to want to play games