New publication: Gender and Toxic Meritocracy in Competitive Overwatch: Case “Ellie”

I am extremely happy to share my newest publication with you! This study is a collaboration with Maria Ruotsalainen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) and it’s published as a book chapter titled Gender and Toxic Meritocracy in Competitive Overwatch: Case “Ellie” (click the title for open access publication!).

In our chapter, we examine toxic meritocracy in relation to gender in competitive Overwatch, asking how gender affects a player’s opportunities for engagement in that scene. We analyze online news stories and community discussions concerning “Ellie” – a fabricated competitive woman gamer created as a “social experiment” by a man player. The confluences between gender and toxic meritocracy become visible in the assumption there must be an experienced man gamer behind the battletag, the gender-based harassment targeted at Ellie, and the reflections on the importance of setting an example as the first team taking a woman player for Contenders. Our analysis shows that despite a strong belief in meritocracy upheld within the community, there are many barriers limiting the participation of those entering competitive Overwatch as women. As we know from earlier research and experiences shared by women involved in competitive gaming and esports, our reading of this individual case also has wider applicability far beyond a single game and its community.

Our chapter is a contribution to the wonderful, fully open access book titled Modes of Esports Engagement in Overwatch (Palgrave Macmillan 2022), edited by Maria Ruotsalainen, Maria Törhönen, and Veli-Matti Karhulahti.

M. Ruotsalainen, M. Törhönen, & V. Karhulahti (Eds., 2022) Modes of Esports Engagement in Overwatch. Palgrave Macmillan.

The book is filled with interesting perspectives into Overwatch esports, and it’s fully open access, so please take a look at the other contributions as well! The entire book is openly available here: