Anyone present in the pro Overwatch scene a few months ago heard about the “Ellie” scandal. The team, Second Wind, was considering Ellie for their roster during the Overwatch Contenders. It was later revealed that Ellie was actually a smurf account for a player known as “Punisher.” He was trying to conduct a social experiment. Of course, this experiment inevitably ended up harming more people than it did helping.
What Punisher proved was this: women are an accessory in the gaming industry. They can be used to establish a point, but beyond that, they have no place among the pros. Women wanted Ellie to be real, to have more representation within the pro circuit. It was disappointing to hear that she didn’t exist.
Pro Players Can be Women Too
Women in gaming are harassed, that is an unavoidable fact. You do not need a social experiment to prove that, ask women. What Punisher’s prank did succeed in doing was help alienate women who were already in the industry. It’s difficult to be a woman in the casual gaming scene, and I would assume it is even harder to be one in the pro circuit. He made it worse, not better. He didn’t prove a point. Now, every woman trying to go pro is going to have her validity questioned.
This same circumstance happened when Geguri went pro. Two of her opponents in the Nexus Cup accused her of cheating, and she went on to prove that she was actually just that good. Situations like this discourage women from even attempting a professional gaming career.
What Does This Mean Going Forward?
Now we are plagued with a “boy who cried wolf situation.” People will believe men when they call women out in the industry, regardless of what it is they supposedly did. It shouldn’t be so widely accepted that women aren’t good at games and can’t play at the pro level. Women do play Overwatch, and they play every other game in the industry. You shouldn’t be upset because a woman is better than you. It’s a poor reaction to inclusion. Chances are they aren’t hacking at your rank anyway.
What this means is that we need to vet people who enter the pro leagues. We shouldn’t just accept what players say to be the absolute truth. Otherwise, we’ll end up with more situations like this one. Proving Ellie real would not have been difficult. Now, people think they’re justified in all their opinions on women gamers. Unfortunately, those opinions do not always show women in the brightest light.