Published on Sunday, 08 July 2012 23:20 Written by Loserly
As a person who is very active in the game community, I will be posting a lot of stories that revolve around the dynamic of men and women in this subculture. While the news stories linked here are from February, they pertain to a commentator who was invited to participate in the EVO fighting tournament which occurred this weekend. Some gamers, female and male alike, are confused by this as they recall the events of only a few months prior. Are we as officials and a growing, diverse community forgetful, jaded, or just apathetic?
Here is the story that should be read in its entirety, but I am also posting these excerpts to discuss:
During a week long reality show about fighting games, contestants took part in sexual harassment and in fact argued that sexual harassment is an important part of the fighting game community that needs to continue. This happened on camera, across multiple days.
During a stream on day five of the show, Twitch.tv community manager Jared Rea noted that it was hard to return to the often-coarse world of fighting games after spending time in the StarCraftcommunity. He stated that he found much more positivity with StarCraft players, and the blatant sexism and nastiness of the fighting game community had become hard to tolerate.
“This is Aris,” a voice said on the feed. “If you don’t like onions, you get your sandwich without onions on it, man. This is the fighting game community.” He then stated that sexual harassment and the fighting game community are “one and the same thing.”
The voice belonged to Aris Bakhtanians, the coach of the Tekken team.
“The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community… it doesn’t make sense to have that attitude. These things have been established for years,” Aris stated. He then noted that making sexual jokes at StarCraft players would be inappropriate, so it’s unfair for anyone to tell fighting game fans they can’t viciously mock women.
You can also watch the video of the incident below:
Here is another article where Miranda Pakozdi, one of the females involved in the event, responds to the issue.
And a brief excerpt including Miranda speaking out against the behavior:
When I contacted Capcom, I included a transcript of the relevant conversation. The company told me the cast and crew had been informed that “any inappropriate or disrespectful comments will not be tolerated during filming.”
And there is one very important fact about this whole story: Cross Assault is not a male-only event. There are two females: Team Street Fighter’s Sherry “Sherryjenix” Nhan and Team Tekken’s Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakozdi.
During the exchange, as matches raged in the background, Pakozdi chimed in about Bakhtanians’ explanation for the pervasiveness of inappropriate sexual language within fighting game culture.
“It hurts the community,” she said.
Everyone in the stream made reference to Keystone events at the San Jose Bar & Grill in San Jose, California, a spot that’s reportedly known for its more crass comments about during play. Pakozdi acknowledged it was an issue during Keystone events, but that it never went, from her perspective, over the line.
“You don’t know where the line is,” she declared.
Many publications sought to interview Aris after this event reached the media, and he declined. His follow-up statement is posted here and reads as follows:
I understand that I said some controversial statements on the Cross Assault show, and a lot of people are deeply offended with what was said. When I made these statements, I was very heated as I felt that the culture of a scene I have been a part of for over 15 years was being threatened. I unfortunately used extreme examples in the heat of the moment and feel that my statements don’t actually communicate how I feel. This is similar to what people say when they get into an argument with their girlfriend, and they say things that they deeply regret. I sincerely apologise if I have offended anyone. My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself. The last thing I want to do is get them in trouble for giving me and the fighting game community the opportunity to have an amazing show like this.
What I was trying to communicate is that mild hostility has always been a defining characteristic of the fighting game scene. Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn’t like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect. The debate I was in was with a person who supported professional leagues, who have intent to censor the community to make it more accessible. I think the sink or swim mentality is something that defined our culture, and if that succeeds it removes something which has been important to help create some of the best fighting game players of our time. I was unfortunately unable to make this point clearly. Again, I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. This was a combination of the people taking things out of context and my own inability in the heat of the moment to defend myself and the community I have loved for over 15 years.
From the former of the articles above:
But there is a grain of truth to what Aris is saying, because frankly a lot of players use the scene as a cocoon where they can shed the usual social decencies and behave badly. I do believe that the scene can be an unwelcoming environment for women. Some of this is due to the game’s natural, high-strung competitive vibe, but a lot of it is just crass behavior that you would not get away with outside of our male-dominated boy’s club. This is way too big of a topic for this article, but it’s something that I think we need to face and address. It’s not about coddling women or sanitizing the scene. It’s about instilling a common sense decency and calling out the blatantly bad behavior that today often gets a pass.
We also have to embrace opportunity. The world of fighting games is now much bigger than just players and tournament organizers. When others want to be involved with good intentions, we need to be more accepting. This goes for content producers (who may not be top players), journalists, and casuals who enjoy watching the game but will never attend a major tournament. It also means having a little more sensitivity to demographics outside 18-28 year old males, but like I said, that’s a topic for another day.
And finally, a quote from the latter article, written by one of the founders of SRK:
However, Aris was invited by the fighting game community to attend and help commentate on the exciting events that took place this past weekend at EVO, the annual fighting game tournament of impressive scale. While many members of the FGC found issue with Aris’ statements, this is a clear sign from the FGC in general that we will tolerate not only sexual harassment, but we will also allow people with a completely warped mindset (screaming for players to rape female characters is “mild hostility”?) to speak on behalf of millions of players in very public domains. This blog is not about banning Aris or hatred toward anyone, but this incident is still fresh on the minds of people who populate gaming and fighting game communities. And there is very little closure in sight.
My questions from all of this: