Home Games League of Legends – The Garena Servers Problem

League of Legends – The Garena Servers Problem


I’m willing to bet, that if you’re reading this article right now, there’s a high chance that you’ve either played or at least heard of the game League of Legends. The popular MOBA, created by Riot Games, has been around since 2009 and has grown exponentially in those 6 short years and with recent numbers showing that over 27 million players log in every single day, it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. However, even if you’re one of the 27 million, you may not know much about the League of Legends Garena servers.
Garena is an internet platform provider based in South East Asia. They are also, the sole distributors of League of Legends service for the entire region. The company signed a contract with Riot games in early 2010, at which time, Riot blocked any and all South East Asian(SEA) IP addresses from accessing their North American servers as per contractual obligation. As such, Garena operates alongside Riot, and can conduct any alternative esports_logotournaments they wish for SEA, one such tournament being the recently announced Iron Solari League, an all female League of Legends tournament.
As someone who is practically addicted to playing League, I get quite defensive whenever someone brings up the topic of female players. Realistically, and as many of you will agree, there is no difference between a man or woman’s ability to play a video game, and as such, there should be no animosity or special treatment towards either side. However, the reality is much less idealistic than one would believe.
Even that such a league exists is proof that male and female gamers aren’t treated the same, even if the tournament held is exclusive and only advertised to a small portion of the community. Adding to this, the fact that the Iron Solari League recently had to change their rulings to include Lesbian, Gay ,Transgendered Women, but limit their participation to 1 member per team, per game due to “arguments and concerns from other participants who dispute that lesbian, Gay, transgendered women members may probably have some unfair advantage.”
Now, first off, I concede that on a physical level, men and women are different in terms of strength, agility etc. So having, for example, separate categories for men and women in the Olympics is a perfectly acceptable practice. Secondly, I firmly believe and recognise League to be an E-Sport. In the basic definitions of what is a sport, it fits. It has teams, it has spectators and there’s a high degree of skill to it. However, this does not in any way mean that separate categories are required for men or women. You can throw out arguments about hand eye coordination, but lets face it lads, I can move my mouse as quickly as you can. There’s no physical reason to separate the sexes. Even more so, there’s no reason for anyone to be discriminated against or signup_logo2limited simply because of their race, gender identity or orientation. Whether you are a woman, want to be a woman, or just became a woman is entirely irrelevant to how fast you can click.
So at the end of the day, while I’m not happy that the Iron Solari league is excluding transgender and lesbian women from full participation, I can only hope that this leads to more discussion on the topic of discrimination within our community. As much as we’d love to say that League of Legends, and gaming in general is all inclusive and tolerant, this simply isn’t the case as of right now. I know plenty of people who have been verbally harassed by revealing their sex or sexuality in games, myself included. It’s enough to almost make you give up on the hobby entirely. But without discussion, and tolerance and a hell of a lot of perseverance, these issues will only fester. So, to paraphrase Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in your game! If you care about your hobby, and want to one day reach a place where you can play games regardless of your gender, orientation, race, weight or shoe size, then please, start by just being friendly towards the next person who dies 10 times before the game even truly begins. You’ll be glad of it in the long run!
UPDATE: The team have since issued an apology, and retracted the restrictions. Is it enough? Let us know in the comments.