Competitive Gamer's Inflammatory Comments Spark Sexual Harassment Debate

Competitive fighting gamer Aris Bakhtanians has prompted some ire with inflammatory comments he made during a recent episode of Capcom's "Cross Assault". "Cross Assault" is a promotional competitive web-TV series that pits a team of Tekken players against a team of Street Fighter players.

On the show, Bakhtanians made remarks about the entrenched sexism and racism in the fighting game scene, and how it was fine if those things never changed.

Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek has posted a thorough story on the matter. Included in the story is a transcript of Bakhtanians from one one of the episodes. His response when asked, "Can I get my Street Fighter without sexual harassment?":

You can't. You can't because they're one and the same thing. 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 -- it's StarCraft. There's nothing wrong with StarCraft if you enjoy it, and there's nothing wrong with anything about eSports, but why would you want just one flavour of ice cream, you know? There's eSports for people who like eSports, and there's fighting games for people who like spicy food and like to have fun. There's no reason to turn them into the same thing, you know?

Later, when asked about whether shouting "Rape that bitch!" at a match is acceptable behaviour, Bakhtanians replied, "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."

The Giant Bomb story also shares some of the reactions and discussion generated during the program, including responses from one of one of the female competitors on the show, Miranda "Super_Yan" Pakozdi. Pakozdi voiced disappointment about the events of the day on Twitter, though she eventually deleted the tweets.

Capcom has apologized for Bakhtanians' comments in a statement to Giant Bomb, stating, "The views and opinions expressed by cast members in the live internet program 'Cross Assault' do not reflect those of Capcom. As a company, Capcom believes that everyone should be treated with respect. This particular issue was brought to our attention and has been addressed. We sincerely apologise to anyone that was offended by any comments expressed during the show."

When Passions Flare, Lines are Crossed [Giant Bomb]


Comments

    I used to respect Aris for the exposure he granted Tekken. Now I know he's a fraud and a douchebag.

      I'd respect and value your opinion on this more than anyone I know

        Parked them in TAY!

          I read, was awesome.

          Might I suggest a cut and paste job? Would be a worthwhile inclusion.

    In gaming, "rape" doesn't necessarily mean RAPE. I'm sure everyone who has played an online multiplayer game has heard the word be used many times. It's a word that is going the same way as "retarded" and "gay" -- these words, in society, are seldom meant literally. While it is perfectly understandable that people can be offended by these words, the world has turned a blind eye to the casual use of them in conversation.

    If you play an online game and somebody says "raped" you would have to be delusional to take it literally.

      It totes means canola. Duh.

      Well yes, but they're still unacceptable words to use.

      You're right about that in some situations. Eg, "Man I got raped in that game of Halo". (Sorry, "teh haloz" - there.) That's tasteless and careless and unacceptable, but sort of understandable.

      But "rape that bitch"? I don't think any context can save that one.

        There's nothing 'acceptable' about anyone's use of the term 'rape' in a gaming context i.e. "yeah, I got raped in that battleground (WoW)", as it trivialises a (real-world) activity - that is a crime and is highly traumatic for the victim (male or female).

        Some of my friends use that term during "casual" conversation about games - and it makes me cringe. In general, i think anyone who uses that term so 'lightly' is pathetic.

          Yep, my mate uses the word constantly and it's made its way in to general RL discussions as well.

          But it has gotten worse as well "raped" isn't a strong enough word for how much he just owned that person.. it is now becoming "face raped", "arse raped".. etc.

          It rubs off on me sometimes as well, I accidentally drop the word here and I hate it.

            "rape" not acceptable? but "*uck" is and "*unt" and "gay"? Where do we draw the line? Don't get me wrong, I am not for or against, I am just saying at what point do we turn into North Korea?

              You're allowed to f***, you can have a c***, you can be gay, but you can't rape someone. You can say whatever you want, but that's why it's not cool. Simple, yeah?

              We turn into "North Korea" when we take away people's right to express themselves in a non-defamatory manner. Telling these guys to not say "rape", "gay" or any other racially or sexually abusive term is not doing this.

              You turn into North Korea when you get arrested and shot for saying that. Until then, being told to stop acting like a dick? Deal with it.

        No they're not Bish. Not if the context is right.

        For instance , I know a lot of homosexual people who seem to get offended when you use the word gay as an insult, the equivalent to ''stupid'' not referring to homosexuality, they get offended because they consider it ''their word'' which is ridiculous, back in my day gay was a word used to describe being jovial and happy.

        So although I respect and understand that some people can find this offensive and have so the right, I ask too that they equally respect and understand that the word is not limited to one meaning, and respect those who use such words appropriately.

        Thankyou.

      The world has not turned a blind eye, as you can see by the polemic this story has invoked and campaigns such as http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com

      When people use words like ‘rape’ or whatnot, they are reducing them to their core principles and then rebuilding them into words of their own, with their own connotations and what have you.
      I believe the core idea of ‘rape’ is to impose your will onto another – to dominate - and when someone kills you in a videogame, they have, in a way, dominated you. If someone says “I just got raped” during a game of COD they don’t literally mean that and I’m sure they mean no disrespect to rape victims, they simply mean that someone did something to them they’d rather they didn’t do. Within context, ‘rape’ is an entirely different word with a much more light-hearted meaning. It’s the same as when someone says “You’re killing me, Johnny”, they don’t mean they are being murdered, they are using the word in an abstract way that strongly deviates from the literal meaning to something that only vaguely resembles it, in this case “You’re causing me a slight amount of physical and/or metaphorical pain, Johnny”.
      We have plenty of words that aren’t used literally that could potentially offend – lame, retarded, etc – but they don’t because people understand the difference between a clever deviation from the literal meaning and the literal meaning. It seems it’s only words like ‘rape’ or ‘gay’ that get attention for being insensitive (though gay I can sort of understand why people are offended – it propagates that gay = bad - even if that’s not what people mean by it) because they are politically incorrect buzzwords. Sure ‘rape’ may be insensitive to potential rape victims but most things are offensive to some people yet we remain a fairly uninhibited, uncensored society. People have made holocaust jokes (take it from me that was a terrible tragedy. I’m a Jewish history student and my family was affected by it) without the world ending! 
      I apologize sincerely if I’ve offended anyone at all here (which I’m sure I have – here’s another apology. And a smiley face . ), but if we can’t be creative with language, language will never evolve. If we can’t be flippant and treat serious issues in a light-hearted fashion, what can we do? If we let serious concepts like death defeat us, where will we go in life? Where is our power? The world is a serious, nasty place yet people are happy and hopeful – we can’t let ourselves get bogged down in all that grime. Not that words like ‘rape’ should be turned into a joke but they do say that “tragedy + time = comedy”.
      (again, I think this is the most radical and offensive I’ve ever been on the internet. I’m really sorry but I think this is a message a lot of people need to hear.)
      (and a further disclaimer, I’m young and I don’t know what I’m talking about ;) )

        I don't think anyone looks back on having been raped and finds anything comic about it, no matter how much time has passed. Just saying.

    Can we turn "it's Starcraft" into a meme now?

    "Another 15 people have been beheaded in Mexico during continued violence in the drug trade."

    "It's Starcraft."

      It's only StarCraft if they GG afterwards.

        Unless your names Idra, in which case rage quits are his way of saying GG

    I used to follow the fighting game scene and converted to Starcraft a while ago. I could write up a lengthy piece about the differences between the two but the fact of the matter is that some people are just assholes.

    If you leave those assholes in a community that fosters aggression (which the fighting game scene does in a way), you're going to find people who have been assholes and have had that behaviour reinforced by other assholes.

    There's a difference between sledging and this sort of behaviour and anyone who can't tell the difference needs to take a step back and look at what they're doing.

    When you take words out of context then you will end up with an interpretation that is wrong.

    See the religion for reference of what I mean.

      You're right. "Rape that bitch" is totally acceptable in some contexts

      :\

        Yup, in this context its "Beat the crap out of that female character!"
        Kinda fitting since its a fighting game, don't you think?

        Additionally, saying all that to be politically correct is gay, not nearly as catchy and likely to distract/interrupt the player you're trying to cheer on.

        Before you have a big gay cry over the word gay being used here, you should stop living your sheltered life and learn that the meanings of words change over time.
        Gay: "has a derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in "That's so gay."). In this use, the word does not mean "homosexual"".

          Yes, but you're quite obviously using the word "gay" in order to rile people up. And considering the connotations, it's an unsuitable word. Just because a word exists doesn't mean you should say it. The N word, for example.

          "likely to distract/interrupt the player"
          Firstly, that's the /entire point trash talk/.
          Secondly, yelling obscenities like the F word or even the C word isn't what is being criticized here, it's the words that cause offense to a group of people.

          "Kinda fitting since its a fighting game, don’t you think?"
          It's a fighting game, based on things like street fights and professional MMA, wrestling and boxing. If you go to a live fighting event with a woman competing and call for her molestation, you must realise that that is a despicable thing to do. You can call for her to be beaten, sure: that's the point of fighting. But rape is out of the question.

    It's all about the context and audience. If your playing friends you are going to trash-talk, let them know how you 'raped' them if you are dominating. If you are playing your kid brother/sister, you aren't going to use the same language (well I'd hope not).

    The same should hold if you are playing competitively against another professional - you are in the public eye and should behave as such. This guy is a professional e-sports player, essentially a professional sportsman, and as such should be held to to same standards.

      I definitely agree with your overall point, but for me it's pretty unacceptable language in any context.

      If you're dominating, why not just shout 'DOMINATING!'

      The word 'rape' is a violent and hateful word with violent and hateful connotations, and if a video game is calling up those feelings in you with regards to an opponent... check the game, check yourself, there might just be something going wrong.

        Kill, behead, rob, bash ect. are all 'hateful word with violent and hateful connotations'. All are acts that forbidden.

        Yet i'm sure people wouldn't mind them even though you don't do any of those actions in street fighter.

    ...did he just friggin say Street Fighter is nothing but sexual harassmant!?

      No, he said that sexual harassment is a PART of fighting game community culture.

        No, wait, apologies, you were right Neo. In the transcript on the Giant Bomb site, he literally states it.

        "Rea: Can I get my Street Fighter without sexual harassment?

        Bakhtanians: You can’t. You can’t because they’re one and the same thing."

        Teach me to post before reading the whole thing :P

    I'm normally pretty quick to call out offensive/sexist comments for being overblown and so on, but this is pretty bad. You can't just call sexual harassment part of a culture and tell people to deal with it.

      Apparently, you can in 'Merica!

      Can just hear the dude-bro's chanting "U.S.A.!! U.S.A.!!"

    Of course you can have street fighter without sexual harassment, what a dumbass thing to say. Whatever happened to good ol' fashioned PLAYING THE GAME AND HAVING FUN? Why does all this gender/sexual orientation bashing have to come into it, and more to the point - why do some people feel that it's so intrenched within the 'culture' (i use the term extremely loosely) that it's impossible to have the same experience without it? That just sounds ridiculous. Ultimately street fighter is about testing your skills against other players, if you have to resort to name calling or sledging or anything else other than playing the game then you are a cheap little coward and deserve to be hadouken'd in the face.

      "Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned PLAYING THE GAME AND HAVING FUN?"
      When games get competitive, fun dies (and noone notices)

    Seriously... using the excuse of a supposed culture in the game you play in order to justify your own offensive antisocial behaviour?

    Pathetic.

    Having a quick look at him I would bet that he would get offended if someone called him a 'terrorist' or shouted slurs in a match about obese, homeless people. People don't have to use slurs like that whilst playing a game, but if he says it's ok and 'part of the culture' (again very loosely) to degrade others because of their gender/orientation or use prejudiced language then surely it's the same thing to use someone's background or appearance to insult them and make them feel inferior or at the very least uncomfortable enough to put them off their game. Same shit different smell.

    Now we just wait for a female writer to post an essay about why this is so wrong and how society has failed her. The problem is, this guy knows he can get away with it, it's not exactly a punishable crime to be sexist unless you cross a line or target an individual. I think the ladies should start fighting fire with fire, bring on the sexism towards men!

      NOT a good idea, if women do that, douchebags will use it to justify their bigotry.

      Notice I used the word "douchebag" and not "men". Because people who have those kinds of attitudes are not, indeed, men.

    hmmm I use to think he was a down to earth guy...
    what he said definitely hurts the reputation of the fighting community.

    Its sad too as that community has the most hyped up casters and audience members. Would have been good to see more positive rather than negative exposure

    Honestly capcom shouldn't have chosen him, from what I had heard he was already a bit controversial and eccentric before.

    But I agree with a lot of people here, saying "rape that bitch" is not acceptable, especially on a show with thousands of viewers, some of which would get offended.

    Can you imagine a Sports Commentator rather than an eSports Commentator keeping their job after statements like that on, or even off the air?

    I watched Season's Beatings Velocity matches that Cross Counter released awhile back. Now for about 30 - 40 minutes of this, every couple of seconds, you have Yipes sitting right near the mic and he is screaming "fuck that bitch" "dump that slut" and "put a dick in her". Oh also when someone tells him that there are probably kids around he says something to the effect of "i'm sorry if there are kids around but they will just have to cover their ears". That's not an acceptable answer I feel when being told in a subtle way your swearing too much. Some players just get way, way to into it and forget what's generally considered ok to be said.

    I'll occasionally say i got raped when playing competitive cs (or smashed, or destroyed, or whatever) in my team ventrilo, and you know what...

    it doesn't fucking matter.

    Time, place and context.

      of course it doesn't matter!

      that is, when you are talking to your friends or team mates, of whom which you know that they will not find it offensive.

      the problem with this was that it was on a public livestream with a lot of popularity, funded by a video game company, and having a guy hand picked by the company to be a captain of a team say "rape that bitch" is not acceptable.

    Give it ten years and our pro gamers will be subjected to the same scruitny and 'education' that footballers are going through now.

    I'd rather we not get to that point and instead deal with this now before some poor girl gets locked up in a room with a pack of nerds.

    Freedom of speech... simple.

    His allowed to say things like that, but guess what? your allowed not to like it. If community stops coming/request a new announcer. Then soon he will find himself out of a job/role because announcers only get their place when people want to listen to them.

    Freedom of speech incoming.

    Have at it guys.

    http://memegenerator.net/Aris-Bakhtanians

    Haha love when people use that whole OMG FREEEEEEDUMB OF SPEEEECH!!!11! any time they make a ridiculous statement. It only applies in the US, and if you've actually read the first amendment, it does NOT give you the right to mouth off like a jerk.
    People who think their fundamental rights as a human being are being undermined because they cannot express bigoted sentiment without being called on it seriously need to wipe the cheetoh dust off their fingers and get themselves some perspective.

    That aside, what a *charming* fellow. Wonder if he's single?
    /sarcasm.

      Freedom of speech should protect all forms of speech, special ones that differ from the mainstream. It enables us the chance to listen and to question if our own opinions are wrong or to reconfirm how right we are.

      And it actually does give you the right to be a jerk and mouth off. However, the people who do need to understand the natural consequences of acting in such away. If people don't like what you are saying or how you are saying it then they have the right not to listen, they have the right to remove you from private property (or in Kotaku case, ban comments).

      If a government could use force to punish someone for simply being a 'jerk'. Then they could lock you up for the statements you just made.

    There's a particular line in Weasel Stomping Day that comes to mind:
    "It's tradition, that makes it ok."

    I heard this kind of thing at the Sydney OzHadou. Really put me off, I don't know why... It never used to bother me, but I guess it's just the fact that I realise how degrading it actually is to say something like that.

    I really don't see the difference in saying "Rape that bitch" to "curbstomp that nigger."

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