Sexual Harassment And The Fighting Game Community

March 1, 2012, By Christian Davis

When it comes to jokes, I am someone who practically has no restrictions. I’ve said racist jokes at the expense of everyone, I curse and say profane phrases, and far too often have I said something without any concern for another person’s feeling. Yes, these are all said in a joking manner and tone, but I have the responsibility, to know when to hold back and –most importantly— know when to keep my mouth shut. I’m relatively new to the Fighting Game Community (FGC) and their culture is very raw so overbearingly competitive that is feels hostile. It can be intimidating at first but once you accept it, there’s nothing else like it. The crowd’s loud roar caused by some incredible feat –See Bionic Arm — or the unique and equally hilarious slang used for beating someone makes them a wild and vastly enjoyable group of people to be around. They welcomed me with open arms and I’ve had the privilege to meet people who have so much character and are so personable that I felt as though we’d been friends for years.

Though a fun and somewhat underground community, they’re still relatively rough around the edges and that was apparent just a few shot days ago during Capcom’s first attempt at a reality show called Cross Assault.

If you haven’t heard about this, the coach of Team Tekken (Aris Bakhanians) on Cross Assault said some very crude and inappropriate things on the live stream to one of the female contestants (Miranda Pakozdi) — which in turn– brought up a sexual harassment debate. The comments that were said by Aris to Miranda were not acceptable and the fact that he said them on such a large and public forum is inexcusable. Saying that in the privacy of your friends is fine. Saying those statements on a live stream with thousands of people watching is not; Plain and simple.

All over Twitter and in various comments on articles regarding the situation, people have been trying to defend what Aris was saying. “It’s just a joke” is one of the most popular reasons that people are willing to brush this issue under the rug.  The very next day, two respected members of the community, Martin “Marn” Phan and Christian “ETR” Cain were joking about the incident that just occurred between Aris and Miranda on a weekly fighting game tournament known as Wednesday Night Fights; Displaying that the whole situation is just a joke to them.

That’s not okay.

As a result of that the stream host, Level |Up, have put out a statement stating that they don’t condone what both Martin and Chris have said and they’re opinions do not reflect that of the company’s. As a punishment for this both Martin and Christian are not allowed to commentate at Wednesday Night Fights or any of Level | Up’s future broadcasts. Everyone else is also affected by the statements made by Christian and Martin and now the weekly tournament has their EVO seed points removed from their first season and is no longer sponsored by Shoryuken.com, the largest fighting game based website. Both Marn and Christian have apologized for what they have said and neither meant to offend anyone. The apology can be read here along with Level | Up’s full statement. If the community that you belong to is punishing you and everyone else for your action, you know you made a vast mistake.

The Fighting Game Community (FGC) is in a transition of being put into the public eye and mistakes like this cannot happen. The rules of “it’s too soon” are in full force here and they were not followed. This is really one of the few times that the main stream gaming media has covered the FGC and it’s just so unfortunate that this situation has to be the one that’s getting the most attention.  That’s also an issue however.

We’re not just about jokes tough.

Aside from the mandatory EVO coverage, what about the fighting game community does the general public really know?  For some, the jokes made by Marn and Christian can be funny. In general, that’s not really accepted. All that is being discussed is a sexual harassment incident and to some that may be all they see. The community is much more than that. What about the time when the fighting game community raised over $30,000 for their Fight For Relief Charity to aide in Japan’s relief from the devastating hurricanes in 2010? A Google search for those events only show it mentioned on two of the bigger sites briefly, and then it was never brought up again.  How about when Chris Hu’s (FGC commentator and player) house burned down and the community helped Hu and his family through that unfortunate event through countless donations? It was mentioned on the community driven sites, but never saw real exposure.

There’s way more good than bad in this community and the longer we dwell on the negative and overlook anything positive, that’s all people will end up seeing. The main stream media needs to highlight all aspects of the community, not just the negative ones.

As a community that was on its last legs, that worst thing to be recognized for is an incident that occurred with only a handful of members. What’s even worse is to have that incident be the face of the entire FGC.

The camaraderie that is heavily seeded in the fighting game culture cannot be overshadowed by one bad occurrence and this is something that the community and the fighting game scene can learn from and should learn from. No, this doesn’t mean you have to censor or sugar coat yourself. The community in itself isn’t sugar coated. You can still be just as loud and still get just as hype. When you’re being watched by the public eye though, the best thing to do is to think about what you’re going to say especially if it’s a topic as sensitive as sexual harassment. It shows that you don’t care about it and the community accepts it.

“That’s not a good look.”

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