connectVideoControversy for Blizzard after female Overwatch Contenders player turns out to be a man
Second Wind apologises after teammate ‘Ellie’ was a male player with the name ‘the Punisher,’ which claims to be the puppet show was a social experiment.
Was it sexism, or a social experiment? That is the question buzzing around the gaming world this week, after a gender-bending experiment caused great problems for a major studio. It all started when a male player pretending to be a woman, but it was no spark, answer he was hoping for.
“Overwatch Contenders” is a farm system for the popular Overwatch E-Sports league. See it as the minor leagues of professional video game play, with a lot of aspiring professionals on the road to global competitions to show how good they are, in the hopes of being drafted to a pro team. One of the most prominent teams, the “Second Wind” was in a hurry to sign for a new player to their roster, so they gave a non-tested player called Ellie a shot, excited at the chance to be a woman in the team. She was already in fourth place on the Overwatch league ladder, but shortly after the announcement of the signing, the rumors started to stir about the validity of her identity, and questions were asked about if she had earned her rank or the ability to play with the Contenders team. But there was one big problem: they failed to properly vet the player, and eventually creating a large controversy.
“Ellie” turned out to be a man. “She” is created by a male player with the name Punisher, who claimed the puppet show was a social experiment, aimed at starting a conversation about the treatment of female gamers in e-sports. The reaction was swift and predictable – the gaming community turned on the Punisher, but also a lot of criticism of gaming culture, with some claiming the incident never would have happened if “Ellie” was not a woman (apparently missing the point that she is not a woman in the first place). The gaming press has also been criticized for failing to do more to the hoax.
A statement from Blizzard, is the owner of the Overwatch league and team Second Wind was published after it was revealed that Ellie was not who she said she was. Second Wind admits it was desperately looking for a substitute for the deadline, and was under pressure after losing a couple of his players. “As soon as Ellie was announced, many questions arose about the legitimacy of the player,” accoridng to the team. They say that they “reached Blizzard early on to help verify their identity and to quiet the suspicions about our newest player, doing the best we can for the moment. More could be done to support our players, but we had prepared us for the attention Ellie got on their act.” Both the team and the studio is now a promising step in their review of the process, so that another controversy like this doesn’t happen again.