I have certainly taken my sweet time putting together this response. I debated putting together one that would include the entire story of the adventure that was Team Siren and leave you fully versed in what has gone down. Such an article has already been written, many times, and I recommend you check out the one that I posted previously. What I decided to do, instead, is get myself nice and riled up and talk about whose reaction to Team Siren really disappointed me the most – the professional shout casters.
I expected a lot of blow back from the community over the nature of Team Siren and the fact that they were girls. I mean, this is the same community where one pro player once joked upon hearing that there was a girl player on a Thai team, “well how do you even know she’s a girl, I mean ‘she’s’ from Thailand.” I expected this kind of junk from most of the community, but not from the people that Riot chose to be the faces of the franchise. Yet there they were, on twitter and on stream, mocking Siren and cracking jokes about how quickly they would be gone.
Ok, I know what you’re going to say. They weren’t making fun of Siren for being a girls team. They were making fun of Siren for hyping itself up and not being nearly as good as they tried to make themselves look. Yes, there is no denying that the way Siren introduced themselves was poorly handled, except maybe in the eyes of their sponsors who seemed to care more about views than the situation they were placing their team into. If myself and a bunch of my friends introduced ourselves to the community in the same way I would fully expect the casters to make fun of us – if they even noticed us.
What the Riot Casters seemed to not want to take into account was the fact that Team Siren was getting noticed not simply because of their promotional mishaps but because they were an all girls team that was, at least ostensibly, presenting themselves as a unified effort to advance feminism in the game. I think we can all agree this wasn’t their only motive, but it was the flag they were choosing to fly, and the Riot casters still dumped all over them.
Perhaps the casters were just trying to treat them like any other team, but the problem with this is that Siren was not just another team. If they were just another hyped up male team no one would have cared. At its most basic level this is what the situation looked like to me: Riot sanctioned casters were making fun of and putting down a new all girls team.
I don’t care what the real motives were behind Team Siren. I don’t care if they were a gimmick, and I don’t care if everyone knew it. Riot sanctioned casters had no business joining the community in making fun of that team. I expected this from the community. I even expected that kind of behavior from the pro players. The community and the pros are largely young, immature and I didn’t expect them to really think about what they were doing and saying (sadly).
With the casters, who I mention again are Riot’s representatives, these are all highly respected individuals who I was convinced were capable of taking a look at the situation and seeing beyond the gimmick. Instead, all I saw were people who are supposed to stand for promoting a fair and harassment free game putting down a team of girls.
Would it have been so difficult for even one caster to post or blog about the fact that, regardless of what Siren’s sponsors wanted, Siren was attempting something that had never been done on such a formal level before? Instead of talking about being “baited and outsmarted” could the casters maybe have talked about the fact that there really is nothing wrong with trying to start a new team, and if that team happens to be made of girls than power to them? The way Siren was presented by their sponsors was horrible but even their very existence is clear evidence that the community continues to grow and expand. That isn’t horrible. Even a year ago I doubt anyone would have tried such a venture in a mainstream LoL community like NA or EU (I know there were some Asian all girl teams), and not a single person with any kind of reputation in the caster community bothered to even try to make that point.
There are some positives to be taken from the Team Siren situation, positives that might encourage the future growth of the game. Who’s to say what kind of team we might see introduced next. One thing I will say, after seeing such a negative reaction from the people who are Riot’s representatives, I imagine there are a few teams out there who were thinking about going public who now might be holding off and keeping their inspirational stories to themselves for fear of all the fall out, for fear that they would be unable to find support from any sources.
For all the damage that Siren and the way they were handled did to advancing the cause of women gamers in League of Legends the reaction of the casters was the nail in the coffin. These were the people with the power to bring forth some of the positives from the whole fiasco and instead they joined the rest of the community in hammering away at Team Siren.
Next time someone tries to introduce something new, no matter how gimmicky, odd, or frustrating it may seem, I hope at least some of the casters consider standing apart from the community and not getting involved with any of the inevitable ridiculing. It would be nice if some of them went above and beyond and actually objectively examined the new phenomena, but I would even settle for them simply acting like the representatives of an open, inclusive and harassment free community that they are supposed to be.
Thankfully a few of the pro players are actually true professionals and took the time to offer insight that those mentioned above would not. While the casters were making fun of Siren, Yellowpete had this to say about gender in League of Legends:
“Well, I strongly think whether or not being female will affect others perception of you as a player is mostly about how you present yourself. As long as you focus your image around being a player instead of being a woman, and if you are as good and as dedicated as other players, I honestly don’t think serious teams would discriminate against you.”
Thank you, yellowpete. I am glad someone took the time to actually bring forth something constructive, from this situation, that aspiring LoL players can actually build on.