Sexual Harassment Is A Joke To These Fighting Game Fans [Update]

Apparently, it's OK to make fun of sexual harassment in the fighting games community. That's what happened last night, as one of the biggest fighting game streaming broadcasts mocked the controversy that followed an episode of Capcom's "Cross Assault" web series.

Wednesday Night Fights, produced by Level|Up and sponsored by fighting game mecca Shoryuken, aired an episode where you can hear the commentators start referencing harassment at 0:24 in the video above. At 1:24, you hear "Giant Bomb can write an article", an allusion to journalist Patrick Klepek's coverage of comments made by Aris Bakhtanians. The clip above comes from last night's Wednesday Night Fights broadcast that can be seen here.

The defensiveness on display doesn't do much to quiet criticism of the hostile environment that many say exists in the fighting game scene.

The genre's enthusiasts say they deserve respect. It's their passion for video games' various martial arts franchises that keeps the entire category viable. Devotees of Street Fighter, SoulCalibur and Tekken go deep into their games of choice, learning movesets, teaching each other strategies and meticulously cataloguing changes from iteration of a release to another. And when they feel like they're getting nickel-and-dimed with incomplete games that get filled out with paid DLC, they'll hold a publisher's feet to the fire.

But they haven't learned to take criticism.

Adherents talk about The Scene or The Community with reverence, citing their devotion and years of dedication. Here's what the mission statement says on the Level|Up website:

Level|Up actively works to improve the cohesion, collaboration, and awareness of local and worldwide communities by focusing on elements that are socially accepted; gaming and entertainment.

Level|Up brings a positive recreational atmosphere in gaming with others at events such as Wednesday Night Fights, Specialists, and premier tournaments. These events help defeat society's video game pessimisms through infallible community appreciation, acceptance, and encouragement to any generation of gamers.

Wednesday Nights Fights is a gathering where friends, new comers, and veterans grind out the highest quality fighting game competition Southern California has to offer.

You can't use the "just having fun" excuse when you want to be taken seriously. And with tournaments, prize money and recognition, partcipants do want to be taken seriously. Sexist macho posturing doesn't deserve respect. Skills get you respect.

Denouncements from on high, like the one Capcom issued yesterday, work on a symbolic level but there's very little trickle-down to the actual individuals. The meet-ups and tourneys fighting game players organise feed into a larger ecosystem that goes all the way up to the genre's biggest stage, the EVO Championships.

When harassment gets mocked and excuses get made that sexually and racially demeaning trash talk are just part of a scene, acolytes are really showing that they're not as inclusive as they say they are. Some may be come here to a gathering to blow off steam or shed social norms and other people of differing genders and races may be showing up to find a welcoming community. If that's not what they find, then ultimately The Scene or Community will wither or, worse, become solely the domain of a surly few. There's nothing positive or infallible about that.


Level|Up's released the following statement following last night's Wednesday Night Fights stream. In it, they indicate that the commentators who made the controversial remarks won't be back on WNF:

Last night on Wednesday Night Fights (2/29/2012), remarks were said by community commentators that alluded to recent events involving the Fighting Game Community (FGC) and the sexual harassment controversy that surrounds it. From time to time, members of the community will come onto our broadcast to provide match analysis and commentary. These remarks do not reflect the views and opinions of Level | Up or our affiliates, partners, and/or sponsors. It is not Level | Up's intention to make light of sexual harassment nor do we condone it. Level | Up and its staff feel harassment of any form is wrong and that everyone should be treated respectfully.

The community commentators involved express their sincerest apologies for anything they may have said including releasing a statement themselves about the matter:

"I just wanted to say, my views and personal opinions of do not reflect Level | Up, EVO, SRK or the fighting game community and any company in any way. A lot of people know me as the nice but joking guy who doesn't have any bad intentions. I love this community with all my heart, and I've poured a lot of what I could into this community. I understand now that is it a very heavy topic that should not be lightly talked about. I misjudged a lot of things yesterday and said things I definitely should not have. I have no excuses and I hope everyone looks past this and onto a bright future." - Martin "Marn" Phan

"I want to personally apologize for any comments made during last night's WNF session that may have offended anyone. These were not my intentions. Please understand that any and all things that I say are not at all the views of Level | Up, SRK, EVO, or any other Fighting Game organization. The FGC is the most professional, courteous, and open gaming organization I have ever been involved in, and I apologize if any of my comments have shown an outstanding community in any negative light. I am simply someone who offers my views and commentary on an occasional basis, and if anything I may have said was considered in bad taste, unprofessional, or offensive, I take full personal responsibility for what was said. Again, I sincerely apologize for anything that may have offended anyone; I was simply influenced by the moment, and it should not have happened." - Christian "ETR" Cain

Marn and Christian will not be invited to speak on future Level | Up broadcasts, and are reviewing our selection process for guest commentators. Again, we sincerely apologize if anyone was offended by the remarks said on our recent broadcast. As a company founded by Fighting Game Community members, it is not our intention to paint the scene in this manner; instead we stand by our mission statement and will continue to focus on showcasing the scene in a positive manner - a scene that can be professional, inviting, and competitive.

- Level | Up


    its always ok to make fun of sexual harassment women wont here because there in the kitchen.

      It's guys like you that this article refers to, and you've just provided People's Exhibit A.

      Can't tell if satire or stupidity...

        You're ruling out stupid satire?

        Any sufficiently advanced satire is indistinguishable from extremism.

    So what you're saying is that a group of adults and teens that has the age range of 16 to 28 has to be professional during commentary that the stream monsters doesn't even do themselves? Do I need to say anymore?

    Does sexual harassment need this much attention or the article writer, Evan Narcisse, trying to gain some attention for kotaku?

      Some people need to align their social parameters - you obviously think that what they did is okay.

      That was awkward as hell to WATCH let alone imagine how the girl felt.

        I understand how it's not right to do it. However, think about when they're around their friends, that and the situation. They're enjoying themselves, hyped even-- I'm sure in fact. Like, the idea that I get out of it is that we can't have fun and say something small as a dirty joke around a female because they're around. Not even trying to come off with the point that a female shouldn't be around a community where there's majority guys, but she should be expecting on a daily basis that she should be getting sexually harassed. That she shouldn't let it bother her because she can go home today and say that I'm better than that.

          "..but she should be expecting on a daily basis that she should be getting sexually harassed"
          Oh dude...just, just stop.

            So what you're saying is that a female is able to walk out the house and not expect to get harassed every day? You missed my point on where I said a women shouldn't be offended by something that guys say to another every day. And if it's meant to be sexual then she could either wait till the contest is over or a moment where she could POLITELY pull the guy to the side and then tell him that she doesn't like the things that are said about her.

            And yes, I do mean she needs to walk out of that house and expect rude things to be said about her gender and her race-- well as others. If she can't deal with then she should stay shelter with her friends.

            All I know is that if I go to a public place where there's an arcade machine of CVSII and a crowd of people are watching. Someone who so happen to be a streamer start to stream a gameplay of mine and says that "he's getting in that ass", or even my opponent would say "I'm going to get in that ass", I wouldn't be mad cause I expect it. I'm not saying "You should expect it every minute, by the minute, in every building you go" but have a mindset where you say to yourself that 1 out of every xx, or even x, men in here are pigs. You've blown my entire comment out of proportion.

   -- perfect response to this argument.

          I think you've misread the situation - she's been put in a situation where she feels like she has to escape yet she also has the committment to carry out the tournament she's probably worked hard for and signed up for and put effort.

          The second part of your post also bothers me where 'she should be expecting on a daily basis' - this is precisely the point, the culture has to change.

          I am part of and was part of many communities that don't do this kind of behavior. From WoW guilds to FPS clans, i've never seen anything like that as far as treatment of women goes. You can't just write this off to 'i'm better than that' - i'm sure she would initially shurug it off as that, but for that period of time man? As I said, it was awkward for me to watch.

            I read it, I completely disregarded that because of how high school should've been for her. Not only that but screw the racism. Everyone needs to grow up, I call my friends niggas, I seen my friends call their friends the smartest 'chinks' in school, and I even see a group of my Mexican friends prevent me from going to to the bathroom-- you get what I'm saying if I say. The culture doesn't need to change, people need to actually look in the mirror and look at reality. You blown my comment far out of proportion.

            Also, last time I check there's only one state called Perfect. She's not from there and neither am I. Maybe she needs to join perfect to feel that self-conform of not being harassed over a video game.

              My point exactly - your writing dictates that you can't distinguish between the 'professional' world and the 'schoolyard' world.

              This is a professional tournament, it shouldn't be there as it is 'unprofessional'.

    Lol, the irony of the genre's enthusiasts say they deserve respect... whilst they disrespect females. Then the irony within the irony in that the group of people they're disrespecting has said the same thing for ages.
    YO DAWG!/need to go deeper

    You keep making a big deal out of nothing. They're not being disrespectful about sexual harassment, they're joking about it. You're being disrespectful about sexual harassment by putting their actions on the same levels of genuinely traumatic experiences.

      This isn't necessarily a case of saying the were committing sexual harassment (which I believe they were) it's the fact that they were ridiculing the very notion that they could be. There was racism in there as well.

    What a waste of virtual space this whole article is.

    Aris is actually a funny guy, if you seen some of the fighting game videos on youtube. The Evo2k11 is the most infamous one. What boggles my mind is, why didn't she say anything in the beginning about it? Clearly she was taking it as joke in the beginning of the video, but if it was too much, or too offensive, she should've said something like um...stop it!. Now if he would've kept going, then Capcom should of kick him off, but again, she didn't say anything until now. It would also help her case, if she did, because looking at now makes it seems like she just wimp out, because she was the weakest on the team. And that's not because she was women, it's a fact, if you watch the videos.

    Kotaku have had alot of these preacy, moralistic articles latetly. Then all the moralistic tossers get into a circle jerk together.

      I can't help but always think when they (Kotaku US) push these articles, they're specifically trying to pander to the BorderHouse group because of the award Kotaku US received and the bad press they were getting from readers about how the site wasn't catering to their minority group.

      I'd like to be proven wrong and be shown it truly is out of a desire to change and become a better blog, catering to all people from all walks of life but when they keep pushing the issues, it seems a little suss.

    i think the initial "get in that ass" comment was because anytime Floe gets screwed over in something he says " common, why you fucking my ass" and that kinda just led on the the harassment jokes

    I feel like we should treat women like you treat guys because if you treat them too little you get chit like this "harassment" thing. If you make them more bigger than any dude you get fighting mmo like rumble fighters (bad game don't go on it) where you get white knights who make the game only fun to girls and never making any other new guy player want to come on again. i feel like those guys really shouldn't of loss their job but you know w/e

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now