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Guest Column: Meet the Smash Sisters

Guest contributor Patrick Miller chats with tournament organizers Emily Sun and Lilian Chen about the origins, goals, and challenges of the women-only Smash Sisters event series.

No Caption Provided

The language of Smash is universal. If the human race were to make contact with sentient alien life, I can think of no better way to initiate diplomatic relations than sending up a couch, a tiny CRT, and a GameCube with Super Smash Bros. Melee. And yet, for whatever reason, attendance at Smash events is mostly male.

Enter Smash Sisters, the new women-only Smash event that debuted with a casual session and a crew battle (a team-based competitive format) at Genesis 3 in January 2016 and most recently showed a crew battle at Pound 2016 in April. I spoke with Smash Sisters organizers and longtime players Emily "emilywaves" Sun and Lilian "Milktea" Chen (yes, the one from The Smash Brothers documentary) about why they decided to start the event and where they'd like it to go.


Patrick Miller: Who are you, where are you, what's your day job, and how'd you get into Smash?

Emily Sun: I’m Emily Sun, AKA emilywaves, and I’m a Senior Sales Analyst for Take-Two Interactive living in Brooklyn, New York. I started playing Smash because someone brought an N64 to debate camp and that’s all we did for the summer. If that sounds nerdy, it’s because it super was. I went to my first Melee tournament a few years later in college because I saw a flyer or something and it just seemed really cool. I’m now one of the head tournament organizers at Nebulous Gaming in NYC.

Lilian Chen: My name is Lil, though some may know me as “Milktea.” I am an Interaction Designer on the YouTube Gaming team, also a former New Yorker now transplanted in the Bay Area. I’ve been playing Smash ever since the first version released. I only started playing competitive after meeting a group of ambitious friends at a local anime convention. I wasn’t planning on entering my first tournament, but thankfully they signed me up without me when I wasn’t paying attention!

PM: What was the catalyst for starting Smash Sisters? What are your respective roles in putting it together?

LC: There’s a bit of a backstory here. I’d been struggling with my thoughts about women’s tournaments for several years. After thinking it through, I released a lengthy blog post detailing why I believe they might have potential to promote inclusivity in competitive gaming spaces. My hopes with this post were to lay down a foundation of understanding for whenever the first event would take place in order to reduce backlash. However, I was still to scared to host one in fear of messing up. Not to mention, I’m not an event organizer!

That’s how Smash Sisters began. Serendipity.

Lilian Chen

On the other end of the spectrum, Emily is one of the core Tournament Organizers for the Nebulous series in NYC. She had already been running small women’s tournaments for fun for some time. Paranoia wasn’t a factor for her because she’s badass like that. Emily was also the one who’s post I spotted in the Genesis 3 event page asking, “Who wants to do women’s crew battles at G3?”

By a sheer stroke of luck, her post and Genesis 3 came right after I released my post. I immediately reached out to offer my help in media, social media and branding. Twitter is my second home (for better or worse), and as a designer who’s spoken frequently about these topics, I knew I could work swiftly with her to garner interest. I stuck to my roles while Emily handled logistics. The fun part of this whole process is that the deeper we go into Smash Sisters, the more our roles actually overlap and blend together.

Within that same evening, over twenty girls had expressed interest. And that’s how Smash Sisters began. Serendipity.

ES: To reach even further back, in Nov 2015, Reno tweeted about an East Coast vs West Coast girls crew battle that originally got everyone excited too.

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What kind of experience do you want your participants to have? How can folks who aren't interested or eligible to compete still support the events?

LC: We want Smash Sisters to be a place where girls can get into competitive Smash Brothers and meet other gals who love Smash just as much! Our attendees range anywhere from brand new Smasher to veteran players who all ultimately wind up playing Smash together. We obviously want these events to be positive experiences and hope they reinforce the fact that yes, girls play Smash and there is a spot for you in our community. Our decisions on Smash Sisters revolve around protecting our participants, promoting camaraderie, and inspiring girls to compete amongst everyone else!

There is definitely space for everyone to be involved, regardless of gender. We’ve had guys volunteer to help us with local recording and work with us at setting up at larger scale events. But there are easier ways to help too; just showing your support whether in person or online does more than you could ever expect. Supporting Smash Sisters online makes new participants feel even more welcomed. Meanwhile at both G3 and Pound 2016, the guys that stopped by to root their friends on brought some serious hype! Both events garnered large crowds with lots of uproar!

What's it like being a woman attendee/competitor at a major Smash tournament? What kinds of stories and experiences (yours or others) motivated you to start Smash Sisters?

LC: That’s a tricky question to open with because every woman has very different experiences, and in return, they all handle differently. When I began, there weren’t many other women. At first, I didn’t mind being one of the few. However, eventually I began to notice the unspoken pressure of representing my entire gender as the byproduct. I also dealt with the accusation that I was only playing Smash for the attention, as opposed to my love for the game. Ultimately, I ended up only discussing gameplay with my closest friends, knowing they wouldn’t judge me. I definitely made some of my best friends through the competitive community, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

I don’t actually believe that there was any specific motivation to start Smash Sisters, at least for me. It’s not like a wave of harassment against women surfaced and Smash Sisters sprung up as a knee-jerk response solely to combat it. I think we thought it’d just be cool to create a safe space for women to get into competitive Smash. Of course, such a space wouldn’t be necessary if the landscape and gender balance of women in gaming were different, but Smash Sisters aims to be a positive initiative more than anything. Not all women feel as comfortable being one of the few in a sea of men, and hopefully Smash Sisters can help with that. These events expose new women to aspects of competitive Smash but in more digestible bites. Showing everyone that such a community exists also ideally normalizes the idea that ladies play Smash too!

Not all women feel as comfortable being one of the few in a sea of men, and hopefully Smash Sisters can help with that.

Lilian Chen

ES: Women receive a lot of attention at tournaments and it can be both positive and negative. Good players are more willing to play or give advice, bad players seem more salty when they lose, and some guys will try to show you they got game and you have to combat unwanted attention. But nowadays, I don’t notice much of a difference in NYC/tristate area since I know everyone pretty well and help run events. Or maybe I just don’t notice it anymore.

I was motivated to start Smash Sisters for very positive reasons. I invited Sailor Mercury to my apartment for a fest and we bonded over just being super girly. We saw a creepy insect and both leapt atop my couch, freaking out and refusing to check for it or touch the floor. It was so silly and fun for me to unleash that inner girliness that normally doesn’t get a chance to surface. This may be one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had and simply put, I started Smash Sisters because I wanted more female friends.

Do you think the ideal future Smash community would divide tournaments by gender? What is the end-state that SS is aiming to help build?

Emily Sun
Emily Sun

LC: Absolutely not. No, no, no. In my opinion, I believe women’s events only developed as a concept due to preexisting social constructs. They don’t exist because we believe there is some mythical, inherent difference between each genders’ ability to play games! The ideal for Smash Sisters events is to feed back into the co-ed events in the long run, where competitive women ranging anywhere from low to high levels becomes a normalized phenomenon.

Can you tell me a little bit about the specifics of how you make these events feel good for the attendees? What's the secret sauce in the execution that makes it work?

ES: I think it’s important that we’ve both been in the community for years. We were always about Smash long before being about these kinds of events, which may lend an air of legitimacy to the cause. We are also always looking for feedback from our attendees so that we can improve and continue to evolve with the ‘girl meta’. For Genesis 3, we literally polled all of the attendees who had signed up in advance if they wanted the event streamed, recorded, or neither. And we weren’t just looked for a majority vote - if there were even a few people who didn’t want to participate because of a stream, we wouldn’t do it. In terms of a ‘secret sauce’, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s just our teamwork: I’m amazing at execution and Lil is incredible at exposure.

LC: We put listening to our attendees’ feedback as the number one top priority. This helps us improve our events moving forward. We also went into this recognizing that Smash Sisters is an exploration that will need much reiterating. That gives us some wiggle room to try new things and make mistakes. Branding and design is another aspect that most don’t give enough credit to. The combination of branding and understanding the landscape of the “women in gaming” conversation has been key in how we portray ourselves and communicate to others. Lastly, the fact that Emily and I are able to have mature, open conversations has been invaluable to Smash Sisters! We don’t always see eye to eye, which I am actually thankful of. It allows us to discuss and hit more angles than we would have otherwise.

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ES: We’ve had some guys attempt to sign up in some 'hilariously' defiant act, and when I’ve privately asked if they are serious about competing, they did not try to take it any further. Also, I’m not sure why someone would do this for easy wins in a competition that has zero effect on rankings.

What would you like Smash Sisters (or any future incarnation) to look like in 2 years? 5? 10?

ES: It’s hard to say since the community in general continues to change in lightning quick ways. I’d like to see Smash Sisters crew battles become a staple side event that you only see sporadically like events with items on, all stages legal, low tier tournies, etc.

LC: This is one of my favorite questions to answer, because the answer is: I don’t know! Due to the controversial and polarizing nature of the topic, people often believe that there are only two sides to women’s tournaments: right or wrong, will work or won’t work, good or bad. Why? Despite being one of the co-founders of Smash Sisters, I try to routinely remind people that I am not married to the idea of women’s tournaments. Although I recognize the potential in promoting inclusivity that women’s events hold, I also recognize that it is a lengthy experiment. Letting others know that this is an exploration gives us more room to explore, iterate, and make mistakes (which is how we make progress). The format could adapt and alter itself, but I have no idea how as of right now. It all depends on what success we see from it and the feedback from participants.

You can find more info on Smash Sisters on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

This interview has been edited for length.

Patrick Miller does a lot of thinking, talking, and writing about fighting games. When he's not managing communities for Radiant Entertainment, he's tweeting inane stuff @pattheflip, teaching fighting games onYouTube and Twitch, and writing on Medium. Make sure to check out his chat with Austin on this past episode of Giant Bomb Presents!

69 Comments

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hassun

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Oh hey Milktea!

I thank Patrick Miller for his FGC contributions on GB!

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studsmckewl

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This is pretty cool.

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AC_Shredder

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It's awesome to see this kind of stuff here (which kind of selfishly means things I wouldn't hear of otherwise). Thanks to the people in the interview and to Austin as well for curating this stuff.

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Notorious_POG

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I don't follow the FGC very much, are women not allowed to enter normal competitions?

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imallinson

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@notorious_pog: Thay are but it is super male dominated so can be kind of daunting to get into if you aren't male.

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Notorious_POG

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@imallinson: It just seems like a weird thing to split tournaments up by sex. Video games are the one thing that put men and women on an equal level of play, yet I keep seeing women only leagues for games like CSGO, Halo, Starcraft and now Smash.

A woman winning a womens only league isn't going to be big news, but imagine a woman taking first in Smash at EVO, she would be a role model that shows it's "normal" for women to compete with men in games.

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FLStyle

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Despite following the goings on in the FGC as many of us on this website do, this is my first time hearing reading of Smash Sisters. I highly approve of this idea and wish it the best of luck going forward.

Great interview, wish it was longer, looking at you, person who "edited it for length."

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conmulligan

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Thanks, Patrick! This is really good stuff.

@imallinson: It just seems like a weird thing to split tournaments up by sex. Video games are the one thing that put men and women on an equal level of play, yet I keep seeing women only leagues for games like CSGO, Halo, Starcraft and now Smash.

A woman winning a womens only league isn't going to be big news, but imagine a woman taking first in Smash at EVO, she would be a role model that shows it's "normal" for women to compete with men in games.

I think that would be the ultimate goal of an organisation like Smash Sisters, but obviously we're not there yet. From the article:

LC: Absolutely not. No, no, no. In my opinion, I believe women’s events only developed as a concept due to preexisting social constructs. They don’t exist because we believe there is some mythical, inherent difference between each genders’ ability to play games! The ideal for Smash Sisters events is to feed back into the co-ed events in the long run, where competitive women ranging anywhere from low to high levels becomes a normalized phenomenon.

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Icemaz

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Edited By Icemaz

@notorious_pog: These are generally side events, with the participants of this also entering the main tournament which is happening at the same time. This is just a stepping stone in representation for female players in Smash (and FGC), and one day (hopefully) things like this won't be needed and everyone will just be equally comfortable.

In the UK Smash scene, I have seen people be accommodating to players from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race etc. But not all scenes are like this, and plus any excuse for people to play more Smash is good enough for me

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NmareBfly

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@imallinson: It just seems like a weird thing to split tournaments up by sex. Video games are the one thing that put men and women on an equal level of play, yet I keep seeing women only leagues for games like CSGO, Halo, Starcraft and now Smash.

This is addressed directly in the article, several times. :)

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jadegl

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jadegl  Moderator

I hope that seeing women participate in a tournament environment will acclimate the viewers to seeing women and perhaps make the overall environment more welcoming. Mainly, it would be nice to see a big tournament chat not devolve into "OH MY GOD A GRRRRRRL" or other nonsense, when a women shows up on the stream. Seeing women, even in an all women side tournament, could help with this and make it less of a novelty and more of a regular and perfectly normal occurrence, at least to the people watching. I know that I love fighting games and playing specific ones, and seeing more women involved is really great.

I also agree with building confidence. I know that I definitely feel like I have more eyes on me in an environment where mostly men seem to congregate (comic and video game shops, conventions) and that can lead to being self conscious and varying levels of discomfort or just general raised awareness of how I'm looking, speaking, what I am saying, how I am carrying myself, etc. Even here, online, I can be more guarded with my writing and discussions, since I feel like I need to almost be a representative instead of just a normal participant. Being able to be part of a tournament atmosphere while not having that added dimension of feeling like you're the only woman in the room and what that can mean for other people watching and playing would be very beneficial. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for some people.

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TheHT

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@imallinson: It just seems like a weird thing to split tournaments up by sex. Video games are the one thing that put men and women on an equal level of play, yet I keep seeing women only leagues for games like CSGO, Halo, Starcraft and now Smash.

A woman winning a womens only league isn't going to be big news, but imagine a woman taking first in Smash at EVO, she would be a role model that shows it's "normal" for women to compete with men in games.

They bring up some of the reasons some women feel uncomfortable in regular tournaments in the article. It's gross to have single-sex tournaments, but if some people can use it as a means towards getting more comfortable in a tournament environment, I guess that's cool. Because like Lilian said--and this speaks to what you're getting at--the end goal shouldn't be to have tournaments divided by sex. To that end, at some point the discomfort and its causes would themselves need to be digested by the community at large.

As to the actual tournament here, I wouldn't expect it to be overly different on the basis of excluding one sex alone, since that means diddly-squat as to whether or not you're fun to be around. But there are certain preconceptions that some people hold and bring towards video gaming that can easily summon an additional level of social muck. Nevermind that merely being around the opposite sex can make some boys and girls particularly dumb. If until everyone can grow up, tournaments like this one could instil the joy and camaraderie that one should, that could be a decent stopgap. But a stopgap it is, and should be regarded as. A negative consequence to an unaddressed problem. One that if unequivocally embraced would likely lead to greater division.

In addition to all that, I'm interested in the "for whatever reason" that attendance in Smash tournaments is mostly male, and whatever moral judgements would be made about that.

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ExK4

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Kind of upset by the fact that they're talking to Super Smash Bros. Melee players about Super Smash Bros. Melee and they use pictures of Smash 4.

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todomachi

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Edited By todomachi

Oh interesting.

I wonder what would be the reaction to a dude only tournament?

I'm sure there would be no problems promoting something like that.

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Corvidus

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It's competitive (e) sport. The mental side of performing is as if not more important than your skills. If you get freaked out by sexist behaviour and show that you do by competing in a environment that is free from it, the first thing people will do when you step up is be sexist towards you to gain a competitive advantage. Watch any sport where one person knows their opponent can be wound up!

Also by segregating yourself you'll probably attract all the attention you don't want because scumbags will be scumbags.

I don't like segregation. I don't feel this will help the competitors in the long term as it highlights a mental "weakness" in their game.

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Viqor

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@theht said:
In addition to all that, I'm interested in the "for whatever reason" that attendance in Smash tournaments is mostly male, and whatever moral judgements would be made about that.

I think that the "whatever reason" that's being referred to is simply a byproduct of decades of perception of videogames, and especially "hardcore" videogames as a male pastime and the subsequent marketing of it as such over the years. Of course I can't speak its intention (if any), but I definitely didn't read it as judgmental.

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bigmess

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This is awesome. I'd love to see more interviews like this on giant bomb!

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austin_walker

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@exk4: That's on me! You're dead on, but I was rushing to add photos to the piece after we'd edited it but before we were going to do a live stream!

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GaspoweR

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Edited By GaspoweR

If you get freaked out by sexist behaviour and show that you do by competing in a environment that is free from it, the first thing people will do when you step up is be sexist towards you to gain a competitive advantage. Watch any sport where one person knows their opponent can be wound up!

While trash talking is fine being a sexist (or homophobic, etc.) asshole is something that the community is trying to stamp down. Trolling and trash talking still exist but especially in recent years people have been trying to be less tolerant of stuff that involves anything that is particularly hateful towards orientation, gender, etc. especially during events. If someone wants to trash talk that's fine but people aren't gonna tolerate hateful, denigrating shit that crosses the line and that's not a problem on the competitors who are being subjected to that, that's a problem on the person showing that kind of behavior and its up to the community to not let that kind of shit slide.

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thatpinguino

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Edited By thatpinguino

Oh interesting.

I wonder what would be the reaction to a dude only tournament?

I'm sure there would be no problems promoting something like that.

Most FGC tournaments are de facto dude only tournaments. If the environment is off-putting enough, you don't need to legislate gender based exclusion.

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Alucitary

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@todomachi said:

Oh interesting.

I wonder what would be the reaction to a dude only tournament?

I'm sure there would be no problems promoting something like that.

Most FGC tournaments are de facto dude only tournaments. If the environment is off-putting enough, you don't need to legislate gender based exclusion.

Then perhaps the answer is an affirmative action-esq scenario where you only invite as many men as you have women. It is impossible to see this as anything other than exacerbating the segregation because that is exactly what it is.

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todomachi

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Edited By todomachi
@thatpinguino said:
@todomachi said:

Oh interesting.

I wonder what would be the reaction to a dude only tournament?

I'm sure there would be no problems promoting something like that.

Most FGC tournaments are de facto dude only tournaments. If the environment is off-putting enough, you don't need to legislate gender based exclusion.

Then perhaps the answer is an affirmative action-esq scenario where you only invite as many men as you have women. It is impossible to see this as anything other than exacerbating the segregation because that is exactly what it is.

My main argument is if women can have tournament why not men too? Why can they "segregate" freely. (I don't like the term segregation but it was used in some responses.) All I see that some group have the rights to chose but not others. Why promote that kind of inequality. For me it would be simple to accept that some women prefer to play together and maybe some men too and others would surely prefer mixed tournament.

About affirmative action-esq scenario, when did it ever work? It's a nice sentiment but when something is forced it's usually more easily rejected.

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Shaanyboi

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Solid read. Thanks Patrick!

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TheHT

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@viqor: I didn't read into it and take any offense or anything. I just think that's actually a worthwhile topic to re-explore from a wide and narrow lens, especially in a time when some folks are so smitten by superficial and simplistic expectations and attitudes towards diversity and representation.

But I understand that's not the main thrust of this article, even if it is a large part of the issue.

@corvidus said:

It's competitive (e) sport. The mental side of performing is as if not more important than your skills. If you get freaked out by sexist behaviour and show that you do by competing in a environment that is free from it, the first thing people will do when you step up is be sexist towards you to gain a competitive advantage. Watch any sport where one person knows their opponent can be wound up!

Also by segregating yourself you'll probably attract all the attention you don't want because scumbags will be scumbags.

I don't like segregation. I don't feel this will help the competitors in the long term as it highlights a mental "weakness" in their game.

There are standards to behaviour in pretty much any sport. Being in competition doesn't grant someone carte blanche to do whatever it takes to get an advantage.

Obviously not everything can be policed against, and there's certainly a degree to which an individual bears the responsibility to steel themselves. Everyone you meet is a roll of the dice whether they're an asshole or not. You can't control them, only yourself. That's living.

That also isn't always simple to figure out how to, or immediately viable. If some place can exist apart from that environment that might help someone build themselves up to handle it, then why not? But if that space becomes an end of its own, it stands to do more harm than good.

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Lv4Monk

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Edited By Lv4Monk

@todomachi: They aren't promoting that kind of inequality, that inequality already exists and this is a response. Having equal promotion across the board clearly hasn't solved the problem so why double down on the wrong answer?

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todomachi

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In conclusion I wanted to say that initiatives like that are great I'm all for bringing more people in our dumb/great hobby.

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leoaucar

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Mhm... the ideia of a gender exclusive tournemant definitly has its downsides and sometimes reading about this sort of event rubs me in the wrong way, but after putting some thought into it I guess it's probably the best we can get right now.

I really wish that gaming as a whole felt more inclusive for everybody, but that is just not a reality right now. I hope for a day when something like a Smash Sisters becomes a anachronism and we can say "wait? What is the point in making a smash tournament for girls? just enter in any regular one".

Until then, good job making gaming world a little bigger.

All that said, I will never, ever get why people like to play smash on a competitive level. Its the best game to play drunk after Mario Kart!!! =P

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Chillicothe

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"I also dealt with the accusation that I was only playing Smash for the attention, as opposed to my love for the game."

AKA: "one of the times when it is ok to knee a stranger in the balls"

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mrthee

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whoa. competitive smash content on giant bomb. yeah it's a guest-column, but hey it's somethin'.

I was at G3 but sadly didn't see the crew battle there. I think i'll stop by at EVO tho.

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FinalDasa

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FinalDasa  Moderator

My main argument is if women can have tournament why not men too? Why can they "segregate" freely. (I don't like the term segregation but it was used in some responses.) All I see that some group have the rights to chose but not others. Why promote that kind of inequality. For me it would be simple to accept that some women prefer to play together and maybe some men too and others would surely prefer mixed tournament.

About affirmative action-esq scenario, when did it ever work? It's a nice sentiment but when something is forced it's usually more easily rejected.

The women are forming their own tournament because they aren't accepted or welcome in normal, male oriented tournaments. This isn't a place where they prefer to play, it's out of necessity.

Your frustration is correctly place, there should be no need for a separate, segregated, tournament. But the frustration should be pointed toward the toxic, sexist, communities and tournaments that allow and sometimes approve that behavior.

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AMyggen

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Edited By AMyggen

Great article, really interesting stuff.

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PillClinton

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I understand why they feel the need to do this, but it's a bummer that e-sports are being gender-segregated too. There's a valid reason why men and women don't compete against each other in physical sports like football, MMA, etc. But e-sports seems like it should be a gender neutral competition, since there doesn't seem to be an appreciable difference between the genders when it comes to coordination and finger movements in video games. There could be a real level playing field there.

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President_Barackbar

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The women are forming their own tournament because they aren't accepted or welcome in normal, male oriented tournaments. This isn't a place where they prefer to play, it's out of necessity.

Your frustration is correctly place, there should be no need for a separate, segregated, tournament. But the frustration should be pointed toward the toxic, sexist, communities and tournaments that allow and sometimes approve that behavior.

But I think the problem these days is that people never try to change things from within, only by breaking off and starting a new thing. What if as a guy I was a pro fighting game player who was uncomfortable with the atmosphere of EVO or something like that? I wouldn't still support EVO, but I'd be barred from a female exclusive tournament...but I couldn't start my own co-ed tournament since that would quickly become male dominated, and I couldn't start my own male only tournament separate from EVO because that would be labeled as sexist...it just doesn't seem like there is a lot of positive benefit to splitting off. What if a female-only tournament becomes like the WNBA where it exists but not many people care about it and it never leads to more female acceptance at a main tournament like EVO?

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Volt

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Glad to see Patrick back on the site, always nice to see positive aspects of the fgc promoted, especially when its in an effort to grow the scene.

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FinalDasa  Moderator

@president_barackbar: But why would you want an all male tournament?

And you totally could create your own tournament and organize it in a way to ensure the safety of the entrants and participants.

Strange to see so many people against a women only tournament but not against the basic, disgusting, behavior that forces so many women out.

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TheManiacsGnome

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@finaldasa: I don't think he's against anything, it's a legit question. You should be able to create your own tourney with whatever participants you want. The shit show something like that would create in social media is fucking crazy.

You talk about the toxic behaviour and make it seem like "Oh yeah this is a video game issue and a men vs women issues" Do you have any idea (I'm a white male) how many times I've had something derogatory thrown at me on the soccer field? On the rink? We aren't even playing real competition, they're house leagues. I'm not saying it's not abhorrent and shows a lack of class on the offending parties end, but if I complained? No ones coming to my defense, no ones going to rub my back and say "There there, it's okay the bad men are gone"

Scarlett played pro Starcraft 2, she was trans and it didn't become an element in how she played, how she carried herself or how she won. It was simply her orientation/gender nothing more. Maybe I'm an asshole, but I respected her for it and her excellent play far more knowing she had likely dealt with some nasty shit and let her Zerglings do the talking. Again, maybe I'm an asshole. But it's a nasty world out there, it's got sharp edges, you're going to get cut.

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Cathadan

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I'm simultaneously disappointed that competitive video game culture creates a need for this event and excited that it seems to be going well and is getting coverage here on Giant Bomb. Keep up the good work, Sisters!

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IVDAMKE

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Edited By IVDAMKE
@finaldasa said:

The women are forming their own tournament because they aren't accepted or welcome in normal, male oriented tournaments. This isn't a place where they prefer to play, it's out of

I think that's a stretch, the FGC is one of if not the most diverse community that gathers together for game tournaments. Women aren't outright rejected, they're just in a male dominated competitive environment which can get hostile at times. It's an intimidation factor.

Certain women are prominent names in the FGC and there are several trans people that are well known and respected as well. I'm sure they've all had struggles integrating into the community just like most people all at varying degrees but the people who give them these issues are the ones that are rejected.

When the figureheads of these communities (the big names, the organizers etc) are encouraging inclusion saying that women aren't accepted and are unwelcome is kind of untrue.

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WrathOfGod

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Edited By WrathOfGod

Rad.

I remember Milktea from my brief stint on this crazy, weird social media site for SSB players. I, uhhh, I think she had the most followers.

Anyway, yeah, all esports struggle is power esports struggle and all that. This is a Cool Thing to be doing.

Thanks Emily, Lil, and Pat.

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Darth_Navster

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@themaniacsgnome: I'm not trying to diminish the hate you got playing soccer, or other competitive sports for that matter, but how much of that abuse was due to you being a white male? Maybe you're a minority where you live and play, so maybe you really understand, I don't know. I just know my experience, as the only brown kid in a sea of white faces, being called "Paki" and "sand-n****r" on the pitch and none of my other peers experiencing nearly the same amount of abuse.

I can't speak for a female's experience in the FGC, but I can imagine the level of abuse would be somewhat comparable to what I experienced back in my soccer days. Add to that the real possibility of sexual assault (maybe not rape, but I've absolutely seen idiots grab women's asses at Magic tournaments), and I can see the need for a safe space.

Look, I'm not trying to lessen your experience. It was probably a shitty time for you. But just because competitive sports and gaming can be toxic doesn't mean shrugging our collective shoulders is an acceptable response. We can and should do better, and the Smash Sisters is just one of the ways people are trying to improve things. Let's not tear stuff like this down, but instead consider what all of us can do to make things better for everyone.

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When the figureheads of these communities (the big names, the organizers etc) are encouraging inclusion saying that women aren't accepted and are unwelcome is kind of untrue.

They're not saying that though. They're saying there are very real, very true issues that only female players have to deal with, and even if they come from a small pocket of the community, they are big enough issues that it's more than reasonable for any female player feel uncomfortable about entering the FGC gen pop.

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IVDAMKE

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@starvinggamer:I'm not saying those issues don't exist, I think this female only tournament thing is totally cool if people want to do it. I was merely stating that saying women are unwelcome and aren't accepted isn't true.

A portion of a community being douche bags doesn't mean that an entire gender is not accepted or actively rejected.

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President_Barackbar

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@president_barackbar: But why would you want an all male tournament?

And you totally could create your own tournament and organize it in a way to ensure the safety of the entrants and participants.

Strange to see so many people against a women only tournament but not against the basic, disgusting, behavior that forces so many women out.

I was just proposing a hypothetical situation to point out that if a male felt like the mainstream FGC events were too hostile an environment and tried to create a male version of the Smash Sisters, it would be decried as sexism. To your second point, I think stuff like this hinges on the assumption that tournament organizers either don't care about not creating a toxic environment or actively encourage it, neither of which seems to be the case to me. To your last point, the point a lot of us who disagree are making is that rather than splitting off and making a separate female only tournament, it would be better for the people involved with Smash Sisters to advocate for a less toxic FGC environment rather than "giving up" on it and going it alone.

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StarvingGamer

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@finaldasa said:

@president_barackbar: But why would you want an all male tournament?

And you totally could create your own tournament and organize it in a way to ensure the safety of the entrants and participants.

Strange to see so many people against a women only tournament but not against the basic, disgusting, behavior that forces so many women out.

I was just proposing a hypothetical situation to point out that if a male felt like the mainstream FGC events were too hostile an environment and tried to create a male version of the Smash Sisters, it would be decried as sexism. To your second point, I think stuff like this hinges on the assumption that tournament organizers either don't care about not creating a toxic environment or actively encourage it, neither of which seems to be the case to me. To your last point, the point a lot of us who disagree are making is that rather than splitting off and making a separate female only tournament, it would be better for the people involved with Smash Sisters to advocate for a less toxic FGC environment rather than "giving up" on it and going it alone.

But... if the predominantly male FGC is too hostile for a player... how would creating a men-only tournament in any way fix that? How does excluding female players suddenly negate that hostility? "I'm in a room with 1000 bees and 5 butterflies and the bees keep stinging me so my solution is to get rid of the butterflies."

The reason they made Smash Sisters was to guarantee (or get closer to guaranteeing) a safe space for female players to enjoy the game without having to worry about sexist behavior from the bad seeds in the FGC.

Of course no TO wants a toxic environment, but there is literally zero ways for them to monitor every attendee of their events, let alone police them. Even if a female player was able to summon up the courage to report a player for behaving inappropriately (and there are about a billions sad truths about society that pressure a woman not to report harassment), what TO has the time/bandwidth to actually investigate the situation and take action? There is no easy solution.

Which is kinda the whole point of this article that you seem to be missing. No one is "giving up" on anything. Smash Sisters is not the end-game. All it is is an experiment to try and get more women, who might not have had the courage to enter a regular tournament, into trying competitive Smash, and to increase awareness of the issues that are tied to being a female competitor in the FGC. It has been 100% successful in both regards.

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President_Barackbar

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@starvinggamer said:

Which is kinda the whole point of this article that you seem to be missing. No one is "giving up" on anything. Smash Sisters is not the end-game. All it is is an experiment to try and get more women, who might not have had the courage to enter a regular tournament, into trying competitive Smash, and to increase awareness of the issues that are tied to being a female competitor in the FGC. It has been 100% successful in both regards.

If the message they are sending out with this is "females are not welcome or in a safe space at mainstream FGC tournaments" how does that further the goal of getting more women into the mainstream FGC? Wouldn't you think that the shitty elements of the FGC who make it an uncomfortable place for women to be around would be happier that they decided to segregate themselves to their own thing and be less open to more integration?

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@president_barackbar: You're right that it's not a situation where women weren't accepted or welcome. The stated inception of Smash Sisters wasn't due to some horribly toxic and oppressive circumstance.

Though part of its inception was the different sort of attention some people would give female attendees--attention and judgements that detracted from the whole point of the event--their reasons read like they lean more towards wanting a place for women to get together in a tournament environment and be comfortable being themselves, while also meeting other women who play video games.

It sounds relatively benign, and it can be, depending on the mindset surrounding the event. As a means towards reintegration with non-single-sex tournaments and essentially the larger scene, it could be useful. A gross thing from which good can arise. Because make no mistake, it's a shitty thing to have a single-sex video game tournament, explicitly or implicitly. It's also a shitty thing that there are discomforting elements within normal tournaments; both that they exist, and that they're affective.

But yeah, if the take-away from this ends up being "we should all stay in our separate little worlds," everbody fails.

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@president_barackbar: Except that's not the message at all. Smash Sisters isn't about how bad the FGC is, it's about how amazing it can be when you separate out the bad seeds. They're not trying to remove the women already active in the FGC, they're trying to bridge the gap so that newer female players dont have to jump right into the shark tank before they can even figure out if competitive Smash is a thing for them.

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President_Barackbar

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@president_barackbar: Except that's not the message at all. Smash Sisters isn't about how bad the FGC is, it's about how amazing it can be when you separate out the bad seeds. They're not trying to remove the women already active in the FGC, they're trying to bridge the gap so that newer female players dont have to jump right into the shark tank before they can even figure out if competitive Smash is a thing for them.

So what if I, as a male, also didn't want to jump right into the shark tank? Am I just out of luck?

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Edited By StarvingGamer

@president_barackbar: I'm not sure what you're asking here. Are you worried about intentional and unintentional sexist behavior being directed at you?

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Emily Sun, beautiful name and woman.