Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Step in Favor of Inclusion

All women who attend the PowerUp Series will receive free venue entry, courtesy of the TO, for up to 6 events total before being required to pay regular venue fees. Bracket entry fees will remain the same for all participants.

This is a small but important step that PowerUp is willing to take to spur increased involvement of women in the FGC. This decision does not come out of a void. The inspiration for this decision can be found below.

First, please refer to Day's video on this topic. Also, please read Milktea's article, which is linked in the description of Day's video.

The following is a copy/paste of my written response to Day's video. It will explain my reasoning for taking this step toward increasing the involvement of women in the FGC.

"I really enjoyed your video, Day, and would love to work with you on women's involvement in the gaming community, specifically the FGC. I am also looking forward to having you compete in SFV in the PowerUp Series! I would love to hear from you about these matters and more, so please don't hesitate to contact me at: powerupfighters"at"gmail"dotcom"

I have been thinking a lot about this very topic, and for the PowerUp Series I run at Arcade Legacy I would like to offer women discounted or free venue / bracket entry to encourage their participation. I read through Milktea's article, and she makes the strong point that all-women tournaments are rarely done, so the potential benefits and problems associated with them are unknown. It's all "theory fighter", to borrow the phrase.

However, she also points out a lot of the potential logistical issues that come along with running woman-only events at the bottom of her article. 

In my opinion, women-only tournaments create too many logistical problems for them to be viable. Especially in a local community, where a women-only tournament may only draw 4 or 5 players, whereas the "normal" tournament draws 15-20. I would much rather have the normal tournament grown to 20-25 thanks to the inclusion of the women. I see the benefits of women-only tournaments as a safe space, but also see the potential logistical concerns over when to move women to the "normal" bracket, or when to add prizes to one, the other, or both brackets.

The overriding issue, to me, is that tournaments need to be a safer space. I feel like the overall space can be made safer through proper marketing, a publicized code of conduct, and the public acknowledgement that women competitors are wanted as part of the community. Make the issue transparent and important. Partnering with strong female voices in the community such as you, Day, is also a great way to encourage more women to compete. 

I am of the opinion that initial separation of women into a separate tournament, and then slow inclusion into the "main" tournament is not the best course of action. I believe it would be impossible to adequately market such a decision as a good thing, and am thinking constantly about the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education stating that separate is inherently unequal.

Milktea challenges organizers to take action, not play "theory fighter". Experimentation is the name of the game, and I agree. I simply wish to experiment in a different way. I want women to participate side by side with men, but I also want people to recognize that a disenfranchised group deserves assistance and accommodation. Therefore, I will begin offering free venue fee to my events for female competitors, or those who identify as women, out of my own pocket. They will still have to pay their bracket entry fees, and will be in the same bracket as all the men. Even this idea could present problems over time, if the same women attend a certain number of times, should I start charging them venue entry just like everyone else? I believe I should. So, I will limit the free entry to 6 events total, non-consecutive. This would cover one half-year of entry to my monthly event.

I am excited to see where this goes. Existing events should be improved and turned into safe spaces. The inclusion of women competitors should be taken seriously and they should receive special accommodations in order to entice participation. Those accommodations should be limited and eventually women should be treated just as the men are by organizers. The culture of the FGC needs to change in order to welcome women into the fold. I would like to help lead this positive change!"
Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

No comments: