When she made her debut as the first female eSports player to compete in China’s World Cyber Arena in 2014, Chinese gamer Li Wei said she had to endure sexual harassment and extreme prejudice.
Tournament organizers were quick to discriminate against her just for being a woman, according to SCMP.
When she first joined her team Wei, aka ViVi, was reportedly told by one of the officials, “Nobody will fight a woman.”
And when Wei’s teammate countered with, “But she’s good,” she still received condescending responses like, “She’s good looking, you mean. She’ll turn this whole tournament into a joke.”
From then on, Wei knew that for her to compete, she needed to show that she’s no pushover.
Throughout the competition, Wei had to rely on her knowledge of the game’s rules and regulations to enable her to stand her ground against sexist officials.
She also focused on doing what she does best — kicking major ass in CrossFire.
Wei became a fan favorite for her excellent shooting skills, which greatly contributed to her team’s victory against their Japanese rivals. The win was especially memorable for her because it somehow made her feel accepted in the environment that had been hostile towards her.
Sadly, the challenges she faced in the tournament became a common experience in every tournament she joined. Eventually, she grew tired of it and finally decided to retire from professional gaming.
“I competed in several other tournaments after the WCA, but I always felt there was a bias against women,” Wei said.
Her fellow female gamers also attested to Wei’s woes. Chinese gamer Tang “Eloise” Haiyun stated, “As a woman, my gaming skills are never the focus of people’s attention. To them, hating a female player is much easier than hating a male player.”
While she has left competing as a player, Wei’s love of gaming kept her in the industry. She is now establishing herself as an owner and manager of young gamers, both men and women under the ViVi brand.
Her current team of players also compete in head-to-head games via live-streaming video platforms as well as professional tournaments.
Wei is also working towards building a new future for female professional gamers to protect them from the discrimination she previously faced. That’s why she has twice the number of female players than male gamers in her team lineups.
“Having a few skillful women players is not enough,” Wei said. “We will not be ignored if we come in numbers.”