Let’s discuss the difference between equality and equity here, in the context of this discussion.
Equality indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, irrespective of the inherent biases they may face if they’re a member of an under-represented or under-voiced community. This means people who have inherent societal advantages are usually several steps ahead of folks who may be viewed as other.
Equity indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, however it also takes into account societal disadvantages, and by doing so compensates for said disadvantages through mechanisms that are designed to remove or lessen the likelihood of both conscious and unconscious biases affecting the final outcome.
As it relates to the Empowerment Cup
- As a note, the Empowerment Cup was run by a community organization, and we chose to feature it in the client because it aligns with our values as a team
- Women, LGBTQIA+, and POC players receive more targeted harassment than players who are not part of those communities. This is demonstrable through many, many studies
- Because of that targeted harassment, women especially often forgo in game comms or even mask their gender, just to feel safe in these environments
- Because of inherent biases, statements like “if they’re just as good as the men, they should be competing with them” often neglect the myriad other pressures that are put on women/non-binary folks in a competitive environment that cis-gendered men never face. Those pressures add up, and disincentivizes women/non-binary folks from participating in the competitive space
- Creating spaces that are as free from gender based harassment and discrimination as possible are the logical first step towards building equity in the esports space.
- Here at Blizzard, we have a phrase we often use: crawl, walk, run. In order to cultivate and foster the women’s competitive scene within the Overwatch community, we need to create spaces, develop programs, and foster community efforts towards building that talent pool up and increasing their visibility and stature within the community
I’d also like to quash the fallacy of “lost opportunity” here. Community events like the empowerment cup do not take any opportunity away from any player who identifies as a man. These events likely wouldn’t exist without the clear need to do so from a community standpoint.
I know that many of you, like me, were attracted to Overwatch because of the world it promises: hopeful, optimistic, and inclusive. I would encourage anyone who may have disgruntled feelings about this topic to employ empathy, and understand that the best thing you can do to support equity in our space is to be enthusiastic fans and to take the competition in any future women or non-binary only events as seriously as you would other community tournaments, or even Contenders.
This is how we build towards a future where we see equitable representation at the highest levels of play.