UPDATE: Garena e-Sports has issued a statement, apologizing to the community, thanking it for providing “good feedback” and dropping the restrictions they had previously placed on transgender players.
In the statement, which was issued on their official website and which has since come in for ridicule by a large number of gamers, Garena had this to say:
Our initial ruling on LGBT player restrictions within the Iron Solari League has created a lot of good discussion and debate over the past 24 hours. After discussing the ruling with our partners and re-examining our approach, we have decided to remove these restrictions completely. This means that any player who self-identifies as female will be allowed to participate. We sincerely apologize for any offense we caused to the LGBT and gaming communities.
Our original intent when we put together this tournament was to promote diversity in the competitive gaming community. Hence, we are grateful to our players who have consistently provided their feedback to help us learn and improve as we strive to develop an inclusive gaming environment for all. We’ll also be keeping our promise of having an open dialogue with all parties as we plan this and future events.
We hope you will tune in to support these awesome teams and players in this upcoming tournament.
This is welcome news, though it still doesn’t explain what the company meant in its original justification that transgender players might have an unfair advantage, a claim which led to no small amount of outrage from all sectors of the gaming community and press.
ORIGINAL STORY: A Southeast Asian e-sports competitive gaming league, deemed an official League of Legends partner by Riot themselves, has created a restriction regarding the number of gay and transgender women that could participate in a tournament.
Garena eSports, based in the Phillipines, had previously created a female-only tournament for League of Legends, an extremely popular MOBA game that has gained a massive following the world-over. Titled the Iron Solari tournament after a popular legendary in-game item, the company have stated that they’re currently having open discussions with the LGBTQ community about whether or not gay or transgendered women should be allowed to compete.
Why you ask? Over fears that the team may gain an unfair advantage. Yes, really.
In an official post made on Garena’s website, they wrote “For any events we do, we always want to make sure we are able to have an inclusive environment where no one feels left out, and of course for everybody to enjoy. On this angle, we believed that allowing more to be eligible to join is obviously the answer and as many of our female teams have expressed – lesbian, gay, transgendered women members are their friends too.”
They then went on to add that “on the other hand, for any competitions, we seriously look at ensuring there’s a fair level playing field for all participants. And there are arguments and concerns from other participants who disputes that lesbian, gay, transgendered women members may probably have some unfair advantage.”
They then went on to highlight the decisions they had made for future rulings within their tournaments, which include that “each team will be allowed to have a maximum of one gay/transgendered woman for the entirety of the tournament day. Therefore, teams cannot do the following: Team_A’s first game will be 4 female members and 1 gay, then on Team_A’s second game, they will have 4 female members and replace with another gay or transgender member” and “any team who has violated the above provision, regardless if intentional or otherwise, whether discovered during the day of the event or some time after, will have all their team members (the female members as well as the lesbian, gay, transgendered women member) sanctioned with a 1-year ban on all Garena-organized events, including subsequent Iron Solari Tournament.”
It’s a bizarre move, and one that seems incredibly prehistoric given the situation. Something I simply don’t understand is the fact that Garena seem to give more of a shit about who you sleep with than if you can actually play the game. It’s not an aspect which is limited in physical sports – women’s football teams are never limited to just a single gay player, for example – and surely, somebody’s sexuality gives no indication of how well they play. If they play well, they play well, regardless of who you go to bed with.
Luckily, it doesn’t seem like Riot have taken too kindly to the news. In a post to their official Twitter page, 140 characters seemed to be enough to express their thoughts on the news.
LGBT players are welcome at official LoL tourneys. We're working with partners to ensure consistency with our values across all regions.
— Riot Games (@riotgames) February 3, 2015
Here’s hoping that Garena will see the error of their ways and reverse the decision made sooner rather than later.