Being a woman in the game industry in a player-facing role can be absolutely terrifying. The second players realize what you look like, you’re overwhelmed with comments from people criticizing you for your looks or complimenting you on how sexy you are. I’ve certainly been there.
The former Community Manager in me thinks that Riot Games does an excellent job with all of their community engagement features outside of League of Legends. They do regular videos for patch previews and champion previews, and they highlight fanart and other news with regular Summoner Showcases like this latest one. Riot’s Community Coordinator Nika “Nikasaur” Harper is the main star of most of these videos, and every time a new one is released I dread what the commenters will say about her. Here’s just a small taste of the comments for her latest video on either YouTube or Facebook:
I’m a straight man. I would fuck Nikasaur. – Neardrage
I want to see nikasaur cosplay all the lol champs.. id offer to help her get dressed.. im not selfish.. -force021
does this girl wash her hair? lol just saying? – GMProOG
she’s not even that good looking. nerds. – SexualFruiit
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to represent my company in a promotional video and have the comments actually be focused on the content of what I’m saying rather than the outfit I’m wearing or whether I am skinny or fat. Nikasaur even has a fan page with over 10,000 likes, on which many of the comments are focused on her looks. It might not get to her personally, she might never read those comments or she might have an immensely thick skin. But all of this contributes to the systemic problem of the video game industry being dominated by men, because it’s not the most welcoming and comfortable space for a woman to be in. It becomes tiresome to have to defend your skill or existence as a gamer — another common comment asks if Nikasaur even plays League of Legends, since she’s a GIRL and all. We don’t play that game.
It’s this kind of thing that makes me not want to stream League of Legends videos and join the e-sports “scene” more wholeheartedly. You don’t see these types of comments on videos that men or star in. Maybe I’ll be able to stream on sites like Twitch.TV once women aren’t seen as commodities for the gaming community to critique and devour. For now, I just want to tell Nikasaur that there are people who enjoy the videos because we love the game, we like the content and the production quality, and find the videos funny and entertaining.
In other League of Legends news, there is a new female Yordle support character named Lulu, and she is awesome.