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For the Greater Good
I don’t often “report” on the news. To be honest with you I get most of my info second or third hand anyways, so my reporting is typically a report of the report and my reaction to the report. But as someone who enjoys competitive gaming, this week’s news has focused my gaze.
Capcom recently started a reality show as a means to show off their upcoming title Street Fighter X Tekken. It’s a game I’m quite excited about seeing as it will be the first clash of heroes from two of my favorite fighting franchises. The reality show itself, Cross Assault, pits two teams of five against each other for fame and fortune. Actually, I’m not sure about the fame and fortune part. I don’t watch the show. Probably for good reason as I would have been quite uncomfortable sitting through a recent episode wherein members of the teams got into a discussion involving some pretty hateful subject matter.
The story was well encapsulated by Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepeck, which you can read here. The quote making the rounds was made by Aris Bakhtanians, fighting game aficionado and head of “Team Tekken” on the show. What started as a somewhat crude discussion involving a female contestant on the show, Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakozdi, later evolved into a debate between Aris and Jared Rea (who represents Twitch.tv as their community manager) on what’s acceptable to say in the fighting game community. Here’s an excerpt (again, via Giant Bomb):
Jared Rea: “When I go to SoCal regionals and I see a Phoenix [from Marvel vs. Capcom 3] on main stage getting blown up and there’s some dude in the audience just yelling “Bitch! Bitch!” every time she gets hit and then she killed and goes “Yeah, rape that bitch!” Yeah, that’s totally acceptable! Really? Really? You’re going to tell me that’s acceptable?”
Aris Bakhtanians: “Look, man. What is unacceptable about that? There’s nothing unacceptable about that. These are people, we’re in America, man, this isn’t North Korea. We can say what we want. People get emotional can say what we want. People get emotional.”
He later went on to say,
“This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20-years-old and the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community.”
As you can guess, Aris was taken to task by members of the media and gaming community at large over this and has issued an apology in response via Giant Bomb, here.
I’m not bringing this up in hope that more people become aware of this man’s comments so that his persecution can be continued. I’m writing this as a person who enjoys competitive online gaming a great deal and understands that this sort of mentality does exist. His point of view on derogatory comments is shared by far too many people and not always just the perpetrators. So many people just brush it off as “part of the community” and ignore the possible side effects. It’s really too bad it hasn’t been addressed sooner, but what’s really bothersome is that this negative blip on the radar will most likely be all but forgotten in a month’s time. Take this comment by Shoryuken.com writer Inkblot for example:
Inkblot: “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.”
Overall it’s a great write up but unfortunately Inkblot didn’t delve deeper into this area of discussion, instead saying, “This is way too big of a topic for this article, but it’s something that I think we need to face and address.”
When I first read that I thought, “Why not address it now? You’re writing on a very well known fighting game website for crying out loud! Use your position to be a champion for better community ideals. Put your flag in the ground and express how you think the community should be reacting to this.” Truth is though, how DO you attack something like this? Better yet, how do you prevent it in the first place? It’s all nice to say that we should all be less like bags with which one douches, but it’s hard to make people be less like themselves.
As a lover of fighting games, I really hope that the increased attention the eSport has been getting eventually cleanses the negativity by simply having more people involved that don’t stand for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, I think that’s a long road.