Nicholas’ talk involved us looking at men and women in professional play and how they structured themselves on the occasions when they were present, with particular reference to a team of players of Halo 3 in North America who called themselves ‘NerdCorps’. Nicholas described their successes at attending various gaming tournaments across the world, including the World Cyber Games in Germany, which involved more than eight hundred players from various countries, involving fourteen games. This, Nicholas described, was a feeling of ‘making it big’, and a realisation of the sheer globalisation of Halo 3 games. The dreams of professional gaming opportunities, it seems, are rather closer than we might think, to the point that Nicholas described how professional gamer Tom ‘T-Squared’ Taylor has been featured on bottles of Dr. Pepper. It is not just Halo that these major tournaments exist for, either, for Nicholas described a Guitar Hero tournament also being in existence. Gaming, it seems, might be big business.
Whilst Nicholas stated that he was not initially looking at the opportunities for women in the scene, it was noted how limited these opportunities were when he was involved in attending these global tournaments. Furthermore, women who attended such events were often sexualised, branded as ‘Halo hoes’, who would ‘pick up’ men at events. Similarly, ‘Booth Babes’ and such like are there to interact with the players and push the product they are advertising. Nicholas questioned why these women were at such events and put it down to them assuring the safety of a homosocial, heteronormative space in modelling a stereotypically masculine product. Nicholas described how the majority of women who were present at these events were involved in the service industry, not in participating in the events, thus providing a monopoly over the prizes by men. Nicholas also described how only four or five mothers were usually seen at these events, even those involving younger players.
There was, however, one female player that Nicholas saw regularly: a player who called herself Fatal Fantasy. She was described as the only female regular NerdCorps member, and one who was highly involved and skilled, particularly with ‘strategy calling’. Nicholas said she “Represented herself as both a desirable & unattainable heterosexual female, and as a highly-competent player” [taken from slide]. Fatal Fantasy was described as having a good grasp of the codified language required to succeed in playing the game, and also over ‘trash talking’ both her own and opponents’ teams. She was also very vocal about training the team she was on if they made an error.
Nicholas described Fatal Fantasy’s attitude towards her gaming as different from the male gamers. For example, she mentioned to him that she was allowed to play if she got good grades at school: something that none of the male players had ever told him with regards to their own limitations of play. Furthermore, Nicholas noted that Fatal Fantasy dressed in specific ways, informed him that she was there simply to game, and set herself as different from other girls who attended events, specifying that she was not gay or there to ‘pick up’ men.
Nicholas specified that he was describing what was occurring albeit on a far smaller scale, that the eSports industry is very male dominated and that women are marginalised at these events.
Nicholas was asked questions regarding how the players reacted to his presence as cameraman, the difficulty of understanding what is occurring on the screen when at an event unless one already has a good knowledge of the game, and the performative aspect female players must adhere to.