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Women in Games Esports Awards stirs controversy with best presenter pick

Women in Games Esports Awards

According to a recent WIGJ report, the entire Esports workforce is only made up of 5% women, while industry trade body UKIE says women make up 31% of the Esports audience. This imbalance should make events that aim to highlight Esports and make it more inclusive more important. But it would seem that this mentality wasn’t the case across the board when it came to the Women in Games Esports Awards.

The Best Presenter reward wound up going to one James Banks. And if he is genuinely the best at the job, fair enough, but other information casts a pretty big shadow over the choice.

For one thing, Banks has made some pretty tone-deaf and misogynistic Tweets in the past. When popular Fortnite streamer Ninja caused controversy by saying he doesn’t stream with women and saying he’s ‘protecting his marriage’, Banks defended it. Even though that argument is paper-thin and relies on viewing women and relationships in a really dim way that treats women like they’re all out to get you, Banks said “He gave a very valid reason why he doesn’t stream with women and the feminists went mental lol.”

“Quality of women just went down by 100% now we are back in the uk,” another Tweet read.

All in all, James Banks seems like a really swell guy that totally doesn’t have some blatant problems with the way he perceives women and feminism.

To his credit he did apologize for the Tweets when asked about them saying, “The language I used was childish, and never intended to be anti-feminist, though I can understand the impression that they have created. I sincerely apologise for any offence I may have caused. . .Esports as a whole is better off being more inclusive.”

Now what really went on behind-the-scenes can’t be completely confirmed, but one anonymous source within WIGJ told Newsbeat that the result of  the controversial choice was “a serious misstep that undermines all the great work everyone does for WIGJ.” The source went on to allege that “there was no discussion”, meaning that the pick wasn’t up for debate. It’s a pretty bad look overall, but it shouldn’t overshadow the importance of these events and their goal.

As reported by the BBC, fellow esports presenter Elle Osilli-Wood labeled the result “a slap in the face,”, going further and saying that “so few women recognised in gaming, let alone Esports.” She also highlighted a potential for improvement in the representation of those involved with Esports in terms of speakers at the event by saying, “I was one of only two female presenters invited by WIGJ to speak at the esports event, and I can think of so many other women who should have been sat beside me.”

WIGJ is a non-profit organization that aims to highlight and celebrate the tireless work women do in the games industry, all while contending with an endless parade of marginalization or even harassment. And the other award picks failed to sour the mood at the event either. We saw Lisa Brightma, Cordelia Chui, and Riot Gaming UK emerge victorious in the Stream, Player, and Team awards categories, respectively.

So what’s your take on this?

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