Gaming

Here’s A Gaming Dress For Gamer Girls, Courtesy Of Men

Esports Dress

Over the weekend, a clothing company decided to release its first garment specifically targeted at women. Unfortunately, it forgot to involve any of them in the clothes’ design, creation or marketing.

In an emoji-filled tweet on Sunday, Indian esports clothing company Cranium Apparel shared that it wanted to “do something for the female gamers”. Something that said “Stay Strong… We Respect You”. Something that would give these hardworking women “a new identity”, and show the company’s support for them.

So, apparently in pursuit of that goal, it announced a new product. Behold: The esports dress.

Loose esports jerseys have been the industry standard uniform for competitive video gaming teams for years. The few women in the scene, such as Overwatch player Geguri, tend to wear the same jerseys as their male peers. Though some have expressed desire for a more fitted jersey so it can accommodate their breasts without being oversized, a gaming dress was not something most people contemplated.

But it’s here now, so I guess we have to deal with it.

The gaming community’s response to Cranium Apparel’s esports dress has been swift and incredulous, most finding the offering condescending. Even those who thought the dress looked cute were put off by the company’s patronising messaging, which they felt demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the concerns held by women in gaming.

Other opinions weren’t softened by a favourable view of the dress. To many, it looked less like a flattering outfit you’d want to wear to an esports tournament and more like the stripped upholstery of a garish gaming chair. Also, it has a boob zip.

Overall, the overwhelming consensus has been “yikes”.

Women face significant barriers when trying to enter the world of competitive gaming. Both overt and covert sexism permeate the male-dominated industry, creating a hostile environment for women who dream of becoming the next big esports star. Undue emphasis is placed upon their appearance, and their abilities are constantly called into question.

It’s a difficult and often demoralising battle, and responding to these struggles with a dress is remarkably tone-deaf.

Questions quickly arose online regarding the creation of the esports dress. In a widely screenshotted exchange, Twitch streamer msShadowfax asked Cranium Apparel whether any women were actually involved in the process. The answer was disappointing, but unsurprising.

Since the announcement, Cranium Apparel has been busy tweeting responses to the widespread criticism. It has stated that the company did conduct research with women during development of the dress, and has “a bunch of women” working on future products. It also stated that it’s working on jerseys fitted for female bodies.

“In the midst of all the chaos caused by our most recent addition to the esports apparel scene, we appreciate each and every one of you giving us feedback on how we can get better!” said Cranium Apparel on Twitter. “We are striving to be different and unique! This was our first try hence there were some roadblocks.”

It’s a good thing Cranium Apparel is open to learning, because it has a lot to do.