The independent Super Smash Bros. Code of Conduct Panel is formally disbanding after a summer that saw the competitive Smash community explode with allegations of sexual misconduct.
“[T]he reality is that at, our current pace of work, we would need five or ten years just to go through all the accusations and possible cases brought up this summer,” project manager Josh Kassel writes in the panel’s official statement. “Thousands of hours would be spent listening to testimonies or getting details of the darkest parts of our community, and that is when you consider only the people from this summer. Any questionable behaviour in the meantime would get added to a waiting list that could be a decade long.”
Previously known as the Harassment Taskforce, the Code of Conduct Panel was established in 2018 to provide competitive Smash with an infrastructure for handling allegations against players and other community members, ranging from destruction of property to physical attacks and sexual abuse. Its panelists developed an extensive code of conduct document that several of the scene’s biggest and most important tournament organisers agreed to abide by.
The panel, while not a perfect solution, had its successes. In late 2018, it worked with Canadian organisers to discipline a local player accused of grooming and assaulting an underage girl, and in the following years helped facilitate indefinite bans for top players and personalities over similar allegations. That said, it’s clear the small group was becoming overwhelmed even before this most recent glut of accusations overshadowed the community.
“From the early parts of the process, we faced disbelief and hostility,” Kassel continues. “We received cease and desists, and heard the intimate details of cases so personal and heartbreaking that it taxed the people managing it to their last threads. Tales of pedophilia and molestation, of death threats or of legitimate mental illness. And in some cases, clear examples of how easily all of us can let one another down. All of this was done because we believed in the cause, and all of it was done with no material reward whatsoever. But the task before us is too big for it to be sustained through faith and strength of will alone.”
With no governing body handling Smash competition, the Code of Conduct Panel was the closest thing the community had to structural discipline for heinous behaviour. To see it dissolved because there were just too many cases for them to handle should be a bitter pill for the scene, especially as it faces an outside assault by Nintendo itself. Moving forward, it would behoove everyone with a fondness for competitive Smash to take a good, hard look at what this says about the toxic environment the community has allowed to fester up to this point.