GDQ Suspends Speedrunner With 'Feminazism' In Twitter Profile, Raising Lots Of Questions

Awesome Games Done Quick 2020 (Photo: GDQ)

The tenth annual installation of Awesome Games Done Quick wrapped up yesterday, raising over $US3 ($4) million for charity and bringing in hundreds of thousands of viewers. But as the event gets bigger, so do its controversies. This year, organisation GDQ’s decision to accept a runner who espoused right-wing viewpoints on social media—and then to ban him immediately after his run—has stirred emotions and fiercely divided the community.

The situation came to a head on Tuesday night. Just hours before speedrunners Tojju, Muttski, and Luzbelheim (“Luz”) were scheduled to start a monstrous 9-hour Final Fantasy VIII relay, a screenshot of Luz’s Twitter profile started going viral. It highlighted his bio, which said “I hate feminazism,” claimed that he identified as “deminonbinary,” and stated that he preferred the pronouns “luz/luz.” Speedrunner StebMcDreb, who posted the screenshot, also dug up a tweet in which Luz had endorsed the economic policy of the Spanish ultranationalist party Vox.

“As a disabled queer person, seeing someone with those kinds of beliefs go unchallenged by the community would make me feel discouraged from participating in it,” StebMcDreb told Kotaku this weekend. “I’d be less likely to attend events knowing I’d be sharing a space with people who think my identity is all one big joke.”

That challenge came even more swiftly, and with greater force, than she could have expected. The Twitter spat led to negative media coverage about AGDQ, and the event’s organisers seemed to pick up on the message. Immediately after Luz’s Final Fantasy VIII run was over, he says that GDQ founder Mike Uyama pulled him aside and said, “we have to talk.”

In an interview with Kotaku, Luz said that Uyama said he’d be suspended from participating in the event. “He told me, ‘based on the new policies of GDQ, you are banned from submissions, [but] not from attending,’” Luz said. “I asked him why, and he told me, ‘I can’t talk about it. New policies, we can’t talk about that. If you want more information, you have to send us an email after the event.’”

Luz said he continued to press Uyama until the GDQ founder finally acknowledged that the ban was because of Luz’s Twitter, but that Uyama wouldn’t get into more specifics. Luz said Uyama did not specify the ban’s length, but according to GDQ’s website, 18 months is typical. When asked about this by Kotaku, Uyama confirmed that the organisation spoke to Luz about concerns regarding his social media, but during our interview, a GDQ PR spokesperson prevented Uyama from commenting further.

Within the broader speedrunning community, reactions to Luz’s social media activity, as well as to GDQ’s decision to issue a ban, were sharply divided.

Streamer and former Final Fantasy IV speedrunner Brossentia knows Luz from the speedrunning marathon RPG Limit Break, and has emerged as one of his most prominent critics. “If you look at the bio,” he told Kotaku over the phone this weekend, “it clearly is making fun of feminists, it clearly is making fun of trans people, and people have pointed it out to him multiple times.”

Brossentia suggested that Luz, a non-native-English speaker from Spain, may not have appreciated the full nuance of what he wrote, but emphasised that he’d been given ample opportunities to change or apologise. “That’s my problem with the situation,” said Brossentia. “Not that he had it to begin with, but that he refuses to see how it feeds into discrimination.”

Meanwhile, those close to Luz have largely either gone silent or defended him. “He’s spent a lot of time with trans people and gay people and nonbinary people,” said Kyoslilmonster, a streamer who met Luz through the Final Fantasy speedrunning scene. “I’ve never seen him be aggressive towards anyone. I don’t think Luz is some radical fascist that’s out to hurt anybody.”

For his part, Luz told Kotaku that he is sympathetic to the idea that GDQ likely felt pressured by negative publicity to take action against him, but wishes the organisers had been more direct about what was going on. “I would like to talk to the people that decided to ban me,” he said. “I would like an explanation, or at least I would like to see honesty in their side.”

When asked to elaborate on his views, Luz said he believes he has been mischaracterized, telling Kotaku that he really does consider himself “deminonbinary,” and that he only partially supports Vox. Luz further said that, although he uses male pronouns, he would prefer that people who are unsure of his pronouns use a shortened version of his nickname as a gender-neutral alternative, hence the “luz/luz” in his bio.

One friend of Luz, a speedrunner who goes by the name Bread, speculated that the line “I hate feminazis” in Luz’s bio refers to trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). “He does not hate feminists as a whole, just TERFs,” Bread said. “He can certainly do a better job of communicating that.”

Regardless, to people who followed or knew Luzbelheim, his stances were old news. Those interviewed pointed out that observers had already publicly brought up Luz’s Twitter bio when the schedule was announced in October—and that GDQ did not take action at the time.

When asked by Kotaku, GDQ representatives declined to comment on whether they had learned about Luz’s Twitter bio before the convention. Kasumi Yogi, GDQ’s director of marketing and business development, said the event’s organisers look at speedrunners’ social media presences before accepting their submissions, but that some things are occasionally overlooked. “We execute as much fairness as possible, given that we are human,” she said. “If we find things that are in violation our rules, we try to be very consistent, and that is regardless of how high-profile it is.”

Another spokesperson, Lizzie Killian, said that the organisation tries to be responsive when situations come up that are not addressed in the existing rules. “Every GDQ is different, so sometimes there might be situations that we may have never encountered before, and that’s where we have to adapt and figure out, you know, is this a problem for future events?”

GDQ representatives declined to comment on the details of Luz’s ban or to specify which rule he had broken, citing concerns for his privacy. Instead they directed Kotaku to GDQ’s event rules page, where a section on “unacceptable behaviour while off-stream” was recently added.

This isn’t the first time that GDQ’s hazy punishment policies have caused controversy. In 2018, speedrunner BubblesDelFuego said he was banned for sharing his medical marijuana with a friend. Other controversies occurred in 2017 and 2016. Kyoslilmonster put it well: “For the love of god, make fucking clear and precise rules. There’s drama like this every year.”


Evan Malmgren is a freelance writer and a researcher at Type Media Centre. He’s been trying to sell out for years, but can’t seem to find any buyers.


Comments

    “As a disabled queer person, seeing someone with those kinds of beliefs go unchallenged by the community would make me feel discouraged from participating in it,” StebMcDreb told Kotaku this weekend. “I’d be less likely to attend events knowing I’d be sharing a space with people who think my identity is all one big joke.”

    ...and yet he felt quite OK about attacking someone else's identity. Thought police indeed.

      I like how you call 'being exposed as a bigot' as having your 'identity attacked'.

      I mean I GUESS that's kind of true, if your identity is a bigot?

      But it's sort of like you lack the capacity to grasp the difference between being a bigoted straight white male and a disabled queer person in terms of being 'attacked'.

      Bonus points for 'thought police' though, nice touch.

      they felt comfortable calling out somebody for what they perceived as bigoted views.

      no thought police involved. besides, i think the term you meant to use was 'doublethink'.

      That's the somewhat hilarious paradoxical nature of it all. People say they want to promote
      "safe spaces" where they can feel free of oppression and hate and to feel included and accepted. Yet in doing so they are saying to other groups of people "We don't want you here, we dislike your views and will only accept you if you change them to what we want."

        I should clarify in case someone takes it the wrong way. I am not saying intolerance is ok, just that there is a paradox in saying you want people to support and accept your views while at the same time saying you don't support or accept theirs.

          I don't buy that at all. On the one hand you have bigots spreading hate, making people feel less safe by their outspoken "views" (read: bigotry). On the other hand you have people whose identities are questioned / attacked by said bigots throughout their lives and in all sort of contexts... and they just want to feel comfortable to be who they are at an event. There's no paradox here.

          It's called the paradox of intolerance. Tolerant societies cannot tolerate intolerant ideologies. It's an idea that's been around as long as tolerance has, and it's not particularly controversial.

          Are you saying that both being a member of a minority and discriminating against minorities are "views" that are equally valid and valuable, thus need to be respected?

        I don't think it's really a paradox. Ultimately it's about trying to create an environment where people treat each other like people because it's the right thing to do rather than because of a set of HR style rules about interactions. A genuine empathetic environment rather than forced neutrality. However at it's core it can be simplified as being about rejecting intolerance rather than blind tolerance. So if someone jumps in and starts talking about white power that's not appropriate and it's not hypocritical to ask them to leave that stuff at the door.

        While I'm not against people giving it a go I don't particularly support the idea of safe spaces, for a bunch of boring reasons, but at worst they're naive and it's ok for that to be the end of the discussion. Yet I always see people working really hard to find an excuse to link them to something negative. Not you since obviously you're just talking about a subject that came up, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people who are eager to pounce.
        Something they can point at and justify why they they're right to think safe spaces are stupid but at the end of the day it's not necessary. It doesn't have to be a bad idea that needs to be torn down. So I find it really strange that people seem to feel the need to find the high ground here.

      ...not their identity so much as they were actively discriminating against others, yes? Discriminating against discrimination is not inappropriate.

    I also hate Feminazism. Lets not pretend it doesnt exist..

    These days I've pretty much settled on hating absolutely everybody. It's just easier to keep track of it all that way.

      Hate knows no race, religion or creed and is easier than loving each other. it's great

      Man, how far we have come from "loving others as thyself".

    GDQ seems to be run very immaturely. There is always controversy.

    Why do they need to ban people who share different social or political views from competing or taking part. That sounds like Francos Spain. Its not like he was using GDQ as a platform to spread them or even mentioning them in his run.

    People can be wrong, people can disagree. Its not the end of the world. The way to overcome bad ideas is with better ideas. There is a big difference between securing and protecting equality in society, and forcing people to think how you do.

    Oh well.

    Well, good on him for holding on to the 'feminazism' schtick.

    You may have all noticed that it's a term we used to see every day but now is pretty rare.

    The reason for that is, of course, that the people who use it are a lot more comfortable admitting their own attraction to Nazism these days.

    Good times!

    The key take away from this is to delete all your social media interactions, ever. Just in case it comes back to bite you later

    Event can ban whoever they want for all I care, look how much good it did them.

    However, I also question the legitimacy of people who claim they're threatened or made uncomfortable by certain things, yet they intentionally dig through social media post history, etc, looking precisely for something that offends them.

    That's professional victim level bullshit no matter what way you slice it.

    Another GDQ, another stupid drama.

    As mentioned above, it seems it's all good to have whatever view you want, just as long as it falls between whatever GDQ deems appropriate... or whoever wants to whinge the loudest on Twitter until GDQ does something.

    When's the next event? Because the clock has re-started until the next silly drama.

    If the person is that upset about attending because of this, how do they exist when heading to the shops or other events? Drama for the sake of drama.

    Last edited 14/01/20 2:21 pm

    Modern feminism is toxic and has nothing to do with equality. That is a fact, as an Equalist who believes in real equality and has marched in the streets for it, I can only be against such feminism. We need to be able to openly question and criticise it.

    Unless he was spouting his political views on the GDQ stream he should not have been banned. They are literally banning him for wrongthink. GDQ is going down the drain.

    I do wonder if GDQ would ban a person that for example said things like "kill all men" or "all conservatives are neo Nazis" ? Somehow I doubt it.

    you know what it's not worth it nvm

    Last edited 14/01/20 3:55 pm

    I wonder if he would have been banned if his Twitter profile read "Free Hong Kong"? Is this not an attack on free speech?

    I remember when playing games was just a hobby and fun. It should never have become a career.

    Gotta love all the 'FREE SPEECH DEFENDERS' here who are downvoting to silence people.

    I mean let's face it though, it's not like anyone is surprised, is it?

    This is the exactly the kind of thing that has turned me away from GDQ now. Their willingness to hand out bans for misunderstandings has caused the entire show to stop feeling fun. Years ago I used to watch GDQ all the time. It was funny, entertaining, and had the feel of a group of friends showing off. When I tried to watch it this week it didn't have that same feel. It was like people were on edge and the show just seemed clinical.

    I'm going to call down the thunder. There's a lot of casual right-wingers in this comments section who think they should be able to say whatever and never be called on it. If they haven't done so already, GDQ should clearly define what bigotry they won't accept and rule that those involved with their events are not allowed to spout discriminatory views on social media. Bans should be handed to those who can't manage that. This is very similar to the Israel Folau case: he said bigoted things and got banned, Luz doesn't seem much different. Bring your downvotes, it speaks a lot to who you are.

      Hmm - Folau also got an apology from Rugby Australia and an unspecified (but almost certainly multi-million dollar) settlement. Don't get me wrong, I think Folau is a bigoted moron, but if you go around sanctioning people based on poorly explained (or completely unexplained) rules there are likely to be consequences.

      "EVERYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THIS IS RIGHT WING"

      Sound logic skippy.

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