Below is a short, anonymous essay written by a GSE player:
Growing up in New Jersey, I have never felt like much of an outcast. As an Asian-American female, I have always fit in and felt a sense of belonging, similar to many of my other fellow Asian American students in my multicultural community. Even as I entered high school, I have never struggled with issues regarding my race or my gender identity. This all changed when the pandemic, Covid-19 hit. Like many other people, I ended up picking up a couple of new hobbies, of which included playing games. And to my surprise, it turned out that I was pretty good at them! These games would lighten my dark days up, and they became a safe haven for me. Whenever I felt down or stressed about schoolwork, I would just turn on my computer and play a couple League of Legends and/or Valorant games. I was able to hone my skills and ended up going up through the ranks. The following year, when I became a senior in high school, I learned about my school’s Esports team. I brought up the idea of joining the team with a couple of my male friends who were already on the Esports team. Rather than my friends being supportive, they simply ridiculed and dismissed me. I was told horrific things along the lines of “females don’t belong in games” and “females are all bad at games; you’d only bring the team down.”
This was the first time I had ever felt like I truly did not belong and was not accepted, due to my gender. Of course when playing games, I may run into the occasional player who is surprised at my gaming abilities due to me being a female. However, I was never judged solely due to my gender. The words that my friends shared with me hurt, especially since they were coming from people who I cared for and thought of as my friends. Their opinions of me mattered because I thought they truly valued me as a person. And ironically, they all knew of my gaming abilities and told me earlier that I was good. We had all played together during the pandemic, and I was providing them with strategies so that they could excel. Despite the opposition of my friends, I joined the team because I could not let their words bring me down. Maybe they were jealous of my gaming abilities or felt that they would lose me as a friend if I joined the team. I don’t quite know the reasons, and I have never asked for them. That being said, my friendships with them have changed.
Trying to do anything in a male-dominated field is extremely hard, but from my experience encountering opposition in joining a team due to my gender, I learned how to turn my adversities into my strengths. I have become mentally and emotionally stronger, and contrary to my friends’ beliefs, I have done fairly well on my team, often rescuing fellow teammates when they are in trouble and helping my team gain victory in numerous games. Immature comments do sting, but I have learned that I do not need to believe in the words that are meant to bring me down. This applies not only to my gaming, but also in every area of my life.