In the interest of gender diversity the Evolution Championship Series decided to include a woman's only Street Fighter IV competition. As a result some discontent has surfaced as to the fairness of such a move.
On one hand it can undoubtedly draw much needed attention to the ladies of the gaming world. Though denied by corporations, the question pops up as to if a female participant is at a disadvantage in terms of sponsorship and support. If a female and a male competitor are in competition for sponsorship, does the male have a more promising outlook in the eyes of the sponsor. If you separate the two into distinct divisions then that theoretical issue is eliminated to a certain extent.
Also, as we are striving to include gaming among the ranks of other American pastimes such as basketball, it can be gathered that keeping with that pattern will further authenticate it as a sport. All sports leagues on the local and national level have woman's teams. The question comes to life as to if this is needed in the absence of a physical disadvantage . Video Games are in essence void the need for physical skill, this is replaced with metal attributes and dexterity, both of which women are in most ways on an equal plane.
The positives in favor of integration is the fact that women can be held to the same level as their male counterparts. Should women by default be viewed as having a handicap where as in truth they are on par with the best male participants if not better. Should they be penalized simply for lack of numbers. However it must be pointed out that the separation does not come with a handicap as far as game difficulty, that has been some of the spontaneous reaction to this announcement. Participants in truth will be playing a regular SFIV. The EVO is keeping it's standard high. The only differential is that they will not be playing with men.
As a lady gamer myself and editor for Fairchild VI, this has left me very torn. I want to wear my big girl pants and be part of the guys. I want to show them what I am made of . In competition you don't have to worry about your opponent performing his best as you do in online play. Despite the individual's acceptance of you, he will play to win. At that point if you beat him, you have succeeded in proving yourself not as a good girl gamer, but as a good gamer.
On the the other hand I see the benefit to a separation.I see the positive influence it could have on the female demographic. Suddenly we are no longer viewed as stubborn girls trying to play in a man's world, but talented individuals unique in our own way.
Socially it will benefit the demographic by bringing together like minded individuals. Rather then sifting through a flood of testosterone, competitors will be meeting and competing against women like them. It can also bring to the table new talent, maybe previously untapped. If girls see "professional female gamers" like they do professional basketball or baseball players then they have something to aspire to. They may be more apt to pursue gaming past a casual hobby.
In my mind's eye a balance of both separated and integrated competitions seems best. You win the prize from both sides. Women get to prove the point and receive due recognition.
In the end the most important thing is that we do what is best for the gender in terms of maximizing potential. Individuals like myself may hold on to their Joan of Arc persona, and hold tight to the fight for acceptance they have fought for these past decades. Ultimately however, if a degree of separation can further that acceptance and grow our numbers we should accept it as a change for the better.