That’s how long it took for one of Kristen “Kittyplays” Valnicek’s Fortnite squad mates to call her a “p—y” after she first spoke in voice chat.

A full-time streamer since 2013, Kittyplays wasn’t surprised by the harassment as much as its source: an 11-year-old boy. He was reciting by rote a word he was too young to fully understand.

“It’s for the reaction, for the rise,” Kittyplays said. “They don’t even know what it means; they just heard one of their friends who’s coming of age say it. With the internet these days, I don’t think it’s something you can avoid. I just think they have to learn better.”

Where will they learn better, and from whom? The highest level of competitive gaming has always been a boys club whose teachings and cultural norms are set by its insular, monolithic membership. Boys will be boys because there have only ever been boys to learn from. Development of aspiring professionals existed solely through the emulation of older male gamers, who transferred their beliefs and biases to the next generation like hereditary traits.

Breaking open this closed tradition has been a long time coming, and it’s Fortnite swinging the pickax. Epic Games’ purposeful insistence on featuring popular, skilled female players at the highest levels of its esport is unprecedented. No other game of Fortnite’s size has ever integrated top male and female talent to this extent, skirmish after skirmish, LAN after LAN.

The effects are only just beginning to materialize.

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