Multiple People Accuse Skullgirls Developer Of Making Inappropriate Sexual Comments

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Image: Lab Zero Games
Image: Lab Zero Games

Two people have accused Mike Zaimont, a lead designer on Skullgirls and Indivisible, of making them uncomfortable with demeaning and sexually suggestive comments. One incident allegedly occurred recently via private messages, while the other accuser claimed they happened in person over the course of years.

Bunny is a popular Twitch personality with over 1.5 million followers across her various social media pages. While she generally focuses on playing more popular games, Bunny recently took an interest in fighting games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Skullgirls. She garnered a ton of attention from the fighting game community, with many praising her willingness to learn as a complete beginner, so last week it came as a surprise when Bunny announced she would be stepping away from the genre.

“A big reason I am taking a break from the fighting game community is sexual harassment I received from a big creator,” Bunny explained on Twitter. “It was out of nowhere and really mortified me. I don’t feel comfortable sharing their identity yet. It really shocked me how intrusive they were.”

This morning, Bunny came forward to shed some light on the situation, saying that her previous tweets were about Mike Zaimont, a veteran fighting game competitor and developer on Skullgirls and Indivisible. She described private messages from Zaimont as “incredibly disrespectful” before eventually sharing an Imgur gallery of screencaps she said depicted her full conversation with Zaimont.

The screenshots appear to show Bunny initiating contact with Zaimont in May to thank him for the Skullgirls story mode’s portrayal of woman-on-woman BDSM. The other party quickly begins asking personal questions about her career on Twitch, specifically what they saw as her embrace of “thirst culture” in terms of the way she speaks and presents herself. What could at first be interpreted as cringey flirting soon transitions into straight up asking Bunny if she gets validation from the attention and what her family thinks of her profession, which Bunny described as “uncomfortable” and “demeaning.”

“His responses are creepy and I really don’t think he would talk to a man this way,” Bunny captioned the screenshot.

As Zaimont had already been widely called out for making a racially insensitive “I can’t breathe” joke during a recent Skullgirls tournament, some saw this as the final straw for someone already on thin ice. Various members of the fighting game community offered support for Bunny, including cosplayer, tournament organiser, and writer Carbon Grey, who shared a video describing what they said were their own uncomfortable encounters with Zaimont.

“I don’t know what Mike said to [Bunny], but I’m sure it was shitty and I know that because Mike’s been making weird, sexual comments at me in and out of cosplay at fighting game events for actual years,” Grey said. “I’ve been writing a lot of it off because when I tell people, they’re just like, ‘Oh, he’s kinda like that, I’m sorry.’ And like, yeah, he is kinda like that and he’s kinda not changing for the past five years y’all. Neither is anyone else in the fighting game community. And I think a lot of it is because when I tell my male friends or other tournament organisers what’s happening, they don’t do anything with that information.”

Kotaku contacted Zaimont and Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games for comment but didn’t receive a reply before publication.

Skullgirls is one of a handful of games being featured at Evo this year thanks to its impeccable implementation of the GGPO rollback netcode, which facilitates a smooth, responsive online fighting experience. Zaimont has long been the face of the game thanks to his work designing its gameplay systems, and often competes in and commentates Skullgirls tournaments. Since the above allegations were made, however, several Skullgirls players have come forward to disavow Zaimont and any involvement they may have had with him in the past.

“His actions don’t speak on behalf of the Skullgirls community as a whole,” prominent fighting game competitor Dominique “SonicFox” McLean said on Twitter. “Nobody likes what he did here. His actions do not reflect the integrity of the Skullgirls community at all and we will be sure consequences are carried out appropriately.”

Comments

  • I imagine the segment of the Skullgirls community that review bombed the game earlier this year when they added SonicFox to the training stage, and still moan about the game being censored when they removed a few upskirt frames back in 2015, are really going to love this news.

    • I think it’s a really unhealthy mindset if your first response to seeing news is “I bet those guys I hate are really going to love this!”
      You see it in these comments all the time, whether it be “left” or “right” or whatever.
      If that’s you’re immediate response to something then I think you really need to take a step back. Reassess yourself. You’d be a lot happier if you’re not always thinking of the amorphous group of people that you don’t like and what they think of things.

          • If a game with a history of weird inappropriate shit coming from the audience suddenly turns out to also have weird inappropriate shit coming from the creator and your first response is BOTH SIDES! YOU ARE POISONED IN YOUR MIND! maybe there’s some introspection you need to get started on, yourself.

  • Weird for sure, but hardly far enough to be harrasment or anything. is being a weird unit a crime?
    That said, he’d be a person to watch out for as its not too far a stretch to imagine him doing/saying similar or worse things and perhaps in more worrisome settings (as in a few weird messages aren’t so bad, but constant asking in person making the other feel uncomfortable/scared is far worse).
    Perhaps if an example of what he apparently says in person was shared, one could know if he is just a bit weird as the messages might suggest or genuinely being troublesome.

    These sorts of things just seem so weird to report to me. He hasn’t actually done anything other than be a bit too forward in asking about personal details, do all creatives who have ever been involved in any project have to be 100% perfect angels or the masses are obligated to do something about them?

    • His language and articulation of the questions he wants to ask are very odd (which seems to be the worst thing about this). If after chatting for a bit and this other person appears to be extremely open minded and answers questions about thirst culture, his other questions which were creepily polite were nothing more than weird.

      Yes he might not speak to a man that same way but I don’t speak to my mates the same way I speak to my partner.

  • LOL, is this lady for real? She brings up yuri BDSM, says she is used to thirst culture and Hentai artist stuff, and then gets all precious when Mike Z (in a very roundabout way, I might add) tries to chat her up?? This is the problem that a lot of women have (probably men too, but I don’t have experience there) – if Bunny had been sexually interested in Mike, she would have enjoyed these comments, but because she wasn’t, she thinks they were ‘creepy and demeaning’. The trouble is, Mike was trying to find out if she was interested. It was a Catch-22 for him. /end rant

    • yeah the dude seems like just some socially awkward type as opposed to a chad. there is nothing wrong with anything he said apart from that. this is just another case of oh he looked at me a few milliseconds too long so its harassment. the media really needs to stop making big news out of these things else no one cares when actual harassment occurs.

  • Just because you’re into horny art doesn’t mean you’re open to be harassed by someone.

    Not to defend Bunny, because she has some pretty shit takes on certain things, but Mike Z was out of line regardless.

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