BurnYourBra (above, white shirt) is a very talented Street Fighter player. She's one of the best in the world, placing in big tournaments like the Evo Championship Series. But it's not only other players moves BurnYourBra must contend with, it's their racist and sexist remarks.
BurnYourBra is quick to point out that, of course, players talk trash. "Players get salty when they lose, which is fine," she says. "But there is a difference between trash talking and calling other players disrespectful names." She tells website Dominion Method Gaming she's been called a dyke, a butch, a bitch and a slut. "I was even called a black bitch to my face along with being called a lesbian, a gorilla, and a monkey," she says.
"Now I know people are going to say that as a player in the community, you have to have a thick skin," says BurnYourBra. "I do, but that doesn't mean that I won't speak up about the names I've been called." According to her, "I think some of these people are blurring the lines between trash talk and disrespectful trash talk."
Everyone is a culmination of their experiences. We only know as far as what's happened to us. BurnYourBra's experiences in the fighting game circuit have been fruitful, but there have also been her fair share of unpleasant memories. "I beat this guy 2-0 and instead of a handshake and 'good games' it was, 'black bitch'," she says. "I'm not saying that every player is like this but I think some people need to think before they speak or don't speak at all."
BurnYourBra knows that she will continue to hear rude comments, but just wants people to understand that there's a difference between trash talking and simply being an arse. She isn't saying what she's going through is the norm for every player. "This is just what I experienced and sometimes I leave the venue wondering why I'm even doing this at all," she adds.
"What people don't know about me is that I don't sit in front of my Xbox and play for hours upon hours anymore," BurnYourBra adds. "I have a life outside Street Fighter. I go to school, I write novels, and I have a huge garden in the backyard that I love to maintain. So this isn't a job for me but it is one priority that I have. If that makes sense?"
Perfect sense. Shame others can't be so understanding.
BurnYourBra discusses the difficulties of being a female gamer [EventHubs - Thanks Jon!][Bifuteki]
UpdatE: EVO's founder Tom Cannon responded to an inquiry from Kotaku about BurnYourBra's experience:
EVO has always had a zero tolerance policy toward any kind of harassment at our events: racial, sexual, or otherwise. I personally take this very seriously, which is why I took the time to watch nearly all of our 2010 women's event. What I saw was a lot of gamers cheering on our women competitors in ways that were sometimes heated, but nothing even close to the kinds of behavior that BurnYourBra talks about in the interview.
I have no doubt that everything BurnYourBra says is true. But to my knowledge the name calling and harassment that she talks about did not happen at EVO. If you read the interview, BurnYourBra's only complaint about what happened *at EVO* was that players didn't want to help her out, and expressed a bias for the Asian women players. That's disappointing behavior to be sure, but it clearly isn't harassment. There are dozens of big fighting game tournaments every year, and unfortunately it does not surprise me that there would be bad behavior at some of these events.
To be absolutely clear, to my knowledge there was NO harassment of our women players at EVO, and we do not tolerate any behavior that engenders a hostile environment for any our attendees. If any EVO staff had heard comments like "black bitch" or "gorilla," or if such incidents were reported and confirmed to us, the offending player would be immediately removed from the event. This is not hypothetical. We have enforced this rule in years past after some racist remarks and trash-talking that bordered on threats to players.
But because EVO is just one of many fighting game events that take place every year, it's not enough for us to enforce good behavior at EVO if players are harassed elsewhere. That's why we're working harder than anyone else to stomp out this kind of behavior, in part by promoting women players. EVO 2010 was the first big fighting game tournament to actually feature the women players and put up significant prize money to encourage more women to enter the game.