Balancing Gender Identity and Gamer Identity: Gender Issues Faced by Wang ‘BaiZe’ Xinyu at the 2017 Hearthstone Summer Championship

Sam Schelfhout, Matthew T. Bowers, Y. Andrew Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines a terrain in which gender inclusion remains a challenge: competitive esports. In the male-dominated sphere of esports, the underrepresentation of women and nonbinary people often leaves these marginalized groups invisible, with a significant lack of women and nonbinary people competing in top-tier tournaments. We highlight the experience of Wang ‘BaiZe’ Xinyu, a Chinese Hearthstone player who became the first woman to compete in a Hearthstone Championship Tour event in the game’s 3-year history. The narrative surrounding BaiZe’s participation largely focused on her gender and ignored the achievements that led her to qualify for the event. We argue that BaiZe’s entrance to the championship scene was received negatively by both competitors and spectators, reinforcing barriers that exclude women and nonbinary people from entering this male-dominated space. The discrimination faced by these esports competitors reinforces sexism inherent not only in Hearthstone but also in esports in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGames and Culture
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • competitive gaming
  • esports
  • gender
  • gender in games
  • Hearthstone

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