Orlando police arrested competitive gamer Noel Brown Saturday morning, charging him with "domestic violence battery" for allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend and another competitive gamer after catching them in a hotel room together. Brown, who is ranked worldwide as a top player of the fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom 3, was competing in the Community Effort Orlando Tournament in Florida this weekend.
Around 2am on Saturday morning, according to an Orange County Sheriff police report obtained by Kotaku, Brown allegedly entered a suite in the hotel where his ex-girlfriend was engaged in an "intimate encounter" with a second tournament player. We've left out names out of respect for both parties' privacy.
Police say Brown was angered, and attacked the second player, "striking him several times in the face with a closed fist." Brown's ex-girlfriend allegedly tried to break up the fight, and Brown allegedly hit her too, "causing a bloody nose," according to the police report.
Shortly afterwards, Brown's ex-girlfriend called the police. The officer spoke to all involved parties, including Brown, who reportedly told police he believed that "he and [his ex-girlfriend] were still in a relationship." Brown admitted to the officer that he struck both his ex-girlfriend and the second player, although he specified that he had not hit his ex-girlfriend, but pushed her with an open palm.
"Noel was very apologetic and forthcoming with his verbal testimony," the police report says. After taking his testimony, police charged Brown with domestic battery violence and placed him into custody.
As he is still under custody of the Orange County sheriff's department, Brown was not immediately available for comment. We reached out to his sponsor, Stephen Cosentino of Unveil NYC, but he did not respond as of press time. organisers of the Caribbean tournament Video X Games announced this morning that they "have decided to release [Brown] from his obligations for commentating at VXG 2013" for "personal issues."
Several hours before the incident, Brown's team won the 3v3 tournament of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 at CEO, which was held in the same hotel. CEO is the final major tournament in Road to EVO, a set of events that leads up to the world's biggest fighting game tournament, EVO, which will be held in Las Vegas in mid-July.
When contacted about the incident by Kotaku, CEO tournament organiser Alex Jebailey sent over the following email:
I'm still recovering from the crazy weekend running the event so I'm unable to call but the incident at CEO was of a personal nature between 2 individuals and not gaming related or associated with the event since it happened outside of the event and after hours. As such I'm not assisting in it gaining coverage that can only hurt competitive gaming as a whole. I appreciate you reaching out to research this story, but would hope Kotaku, and Kotaku's interest in the 2nd largest fighting game tournament in America, is more positive and expansive than gossip reporting. With over 1800 attendees this year nobody on earth can be responsible for everyone's personal actions.
Jebailey also sent over the following video, asking us to show the positive side of a tournament like this:
The fighting game community, which consists of regular tournaments revolving around games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, has received a lot of press of late. Last year, prominent fighting gamer Aris Bakhtanians triggered controversy when he said that "sexual harassment is part of [the] culture" surrounding fighting games.
There are more positive sides to the scene, too. For example, the fighting game community has also raised over $US225,000 for breast cancer research and handed out a number of student scholarships.