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The gross heckling by a fighting game team captain to a female member of the team isn’t really news anymore. The incident in question, which is probably just a public example of what happens to girls in gaming every day, happened on Capcom’s Cross Assault. Cross Assault is Capcom’s reality show that pits two teams against each other while playing the upcoming Street Fighter X Tekken. The incident does leave me wondering though, where in the hell was Capcom during all of this?
I’m speaking in large part to just the Day 1 video stream (although it was just the beginning) where the team captain repeats comments made by the community on the stream and in front of everyone (including the camera). He even adds in some creepiness of his own (such as his desire to smell the female team member). Are you grossed out already? Do I even need to say anymore? For this whole series of events, where was Capcom?
A lot of people would probably argue that the Day 1 video show the female team member, Miranda “Super Yan” Pakozdi, is giggling at the comments in a way that would lead people to believe that she thought it was all a big joke and that she was comfortable with the comments. It was clear to see that she didn’t want to let the heckling get to her, because she was there to play a fighting game and to do well for her team. If a girl is at work and a customer says something offensive to her, she isn’t going to quit her job, she’s going to try and ignore it and not give them the satisfaction.
This was day 1, and the insults were numerous and really disgusting. Day 5 of the stream just painted Aris Bakhtanians, the coach of the Tekken team, as an ignorant jackass when he proceeded to give the watching world a lesson on how the fighting community really is. He claimed that “if you remove the sexual harassment from the fighting game community, then it’s not the fighting game community anymore; it’s Starcraft.” It seems, from the point of view of a casual onlooker, that being part of the Starcraft community immediately promotes you several levels up on the chain of being civilized.
He digs himself into a larger hole by adding to this statement: “You can’t go to the NBA and say ‘well I really like basketball, but I don’t want them to play with a basketball, I want them to play with a football.’ It just doesn’t make sense to have that attitude, these things have been established for years,” he said. “That would be like someone from the fighting game community going over to Starcraft and saying ‘hey Starcraft, you’re too soft. Let’s start making sexual harassment jokes on Starcraft to each other.’ That’s not cool; Starcraft wouldn’t like that.”
Add in the fact that he thought taking sexual harassment out of the fighting game community was “ethically wrong” and listening to the debate any further is almost unnecessary. I see how he is trying to make the point that the two communities are different, but claiming that sexual harassment is completely normal and acceptable in ANY community is the real absurdity in this debate. Who appointed him authority over the rules of the fighting game community anyway?
Yet the conversation continues. At one point, Miranda (the female team member) speaks up saying that sexual harassment hurts the community, but she is quickly shushed by almost everybody talking. Someone comments that the sexual harassment adds to the intrigue of the community. It is also mentioned that sexual harassment happens less in other communities. Aris replied that if “there was that much money being spent on Street Fighter, there would be security, there would be more rules. It’s not the same thing.”
The bottom line is, there is a fine line between joking and sexual harassment. Trash talk is one thing, but there is a clear distinction between trash talk and sexual harassment. If asked to stop, you should just stop. As a female who plays multiplayer shooters often, this behavior is nothing new to me. Part of the magic of the party system on Xbox Live is the ability to isolate yourself from that. Those playing in competitive, face to face events do not have that luxury. What is the problem here? It shouldn’t be considered a luxury, there should be a certain amount of respect shown between gamers. It’s the difference between acting mature and acting like an ass.
Not surprisingly, the gaming community as well as media outlets have exploded with outrage at this incident. Some folks claim that it’s all just fun and games and that people know it’s all a joke. The other end is populated by the mature gaming community and quite a few media outlets that have caused a stir by painting the immature, sexual harassment praising part of the community as exactly what they are. The amount of constant attack by Miranda’s team captain ultimately ended with her forfeit of the match, and she was eliminated from the competition.
We’re still asking, where was Capcom during all of this? Capcom did issue a statement that doesn’t really answer any questions and just kind of asserts that it wasn’t their fault: “The views and opinions expressed by cast members in the live internet program ‘Cross Assault’ do not reflect those of Capcom. As a company, Capcom believes that everyone should be treated with respect,” a Capcom representative said. “This particular issue was brought to our attention and has been addressed. We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by any comments expressed during the show.”
[Image via The PA Report]