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Aris "Aris" Bakhtanians Releases Statement on Recent Comments

The man at the center of this week's controversial remarks regarding sexual harassment in the fighting game community speaks out and apologizes.

Aris "Aris" Bakhtanians, leader of Team Tekken, was largely silent as events unfolded today.

While reporting yesterday's story about leading members of the fighting game community discussing the issue of sexual harassment in the fighting game scene, I reached out to the parties involved.

Besides Capcom, all silently declined.

The comments took place during Capcom's Cross Assault reality show, a competition acting as a promotion for next week's Street Fighter X Tekken. In the stream, Twitch.tv community manager Jared Rea brought up the issue of sexually inappropriate language alienating potential fans of the fighting scene, and a debate ensued.

It's best if you just read what happened next.

Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakozdi, member of Team Tekken and the female participant at the center of this, chose not to talk to me.

Aris "Aris" Bakhtanians, the male coach of Team Tekken attributed with the questionable commentary, did the same.

A few moments ago, however, Bakhtanians reached out to me over email, and released a brief statement. I asked Bakhtanians if he'd be willing to talk about the situation at length, but he unfortunately declined the opportunity.

His full statement is featured below:

I understand that I said some controversial statements on the Cross Assault show, and a lot of people are deeply offended with what was said. When I made these statements, I was very heated as I felt that the culture of a scene I have been a part of for over 15 years was being threatened. I unfortunately used extreme examples in the heat of the moment and feel that my statements don’t actually communicate how I feel. This is similar to what people say when they get into an argument with their girlfriend, and they say things that they deeply regret. I sincerely apologise if I have offended anyone. My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself. The last thing I want to do is get them in trouble for giving me and the fighting game community the opportunity to have an amazing show like this.

What I was trying to communicate is that mild hostility has always been a defining characteristic of the fighting game scene. Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn’t like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect. The debate I was in was with a person who supported professional leagues, who have intent to censor the community to make it more accessible. I think the sink or swim mentality is something that defined our culture, and if that succeeds it removes something which has been important to help create some of the best fighting game players of our time. I was unfortunately unable to make this point clearly. Again, I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. This was a combination of the people taking things out of context and my own inability in the heat of the moment to defend myself and the community I have loved for over 15 years.

It's unlikely, however, Bakhtanians' statement alone will put this issue to rest.

I've received an enormous amount of feedback since the story ran, and I'm still filtering through the comments from both inside and outside the fighting game community. I'm setting up interviews as we speak. We'll revisit this soon.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
690 Comments
Posted by ttocs

@Little_Socrates said:

Before you quickly defend these guys, I recommend hanging out in chat of a tournament like Cross Assault. Even if you think Bakhtanians isn't so bad (he's terrible) there's 20 in the chat worse than Aris, louder than Aris, and more willing to defend themselves than Aris. I don't mean to say the entire FGC is rotten, and I love fighting games all the same. But there's an underlying issue that's not being touched on here, and it's that the spectator community is too often worse than Bakhtanians.

It really is. And if they plan to get money from Capcom to hold events and what not, they need to reform or GTFO. You can't expect big companies to fund your endeavors while all along you are shoving sexist, racists, and whatever else you can think of down everyone's throat. If you want the fighting game community to remain this way, then keep it in your basement. If you bring it out into public, you need to reform. End of story.

Posted by Junpei

@IndieMax said:

I think one of the better things written after the incident is this http://shoryuken.com/2012/02/29/back-to-basics-getting-beyond-the-drama/

Absolutely worth a read. The FGC is so much more then all the drama.

Thanks for linking this. I was thinking of doing the same but I wanted to at least quote this to keep the link moving down the comment list for others to see. It is obvious that Aris chose his words poorly. He knows this and so does everyone. It is well documented that the FGC wants to stay out of the eSports umbrella because they have built up what they have on their own and the eSports attempts to get into fighting have been laughable for multiple reasons. I knew what he was trying to say but yea, he said some dumb stuff and deserves the flack he gets for it. I can't jump and say it is incumbent in an entire scene though. Every time an athlete says something stupid you blame the athlete, not the sport.

On the whole though, there is a harassment issue with the gaming community in general. That goes for fighters, shooters, sports, whatever. It's not a new topic and it isn't something people aren't aware of. The majority of people who play online and competitively at anything in general need to grow up as a whole.

Posted by PatPandaHat

@langdonx: Unless the fighting game community's context is in regards to grape leavings, I'm pretty secure in saying any probable definition is unacceptable contextually. The primary useage is just the easiest and most likely for a mainstream onlooker to begin mentally associating with the community.

Unless you want your synonym for "beat" to carry connotations of violation?

Posted by ABK_92

I don't see whats wrong here. Of course I'm the guy who plays with a couple of female gamers that say the same exact thing when their playing competitive games (get raped bitch and stuff like that is something I hear on an average night of XBL from my female friends.)

Posted by nohthink

It is basically an old man trying to hold on to what he has irrationally and sadly, even though it is not to that extent, we are all guilty of that. With that said, I do not consider someone who cannot control his emotion and his mouth as an adult. I treat them as same as xbox live 14 years old kids. Solution is simple; turn the microphone off and don't play with them. But I guess that is not an option when Aris is representing a community...

Posted by Junpei

@ttocs said:

@Little_Socrates said:

Before you quickly defend these guys, I recommend hanging out in chat of a tournament like Cross Assault. Even if you think Bakhtanians isn't so bad (he's terrible) there's 20 in the chat worse than Aris, louder than Aris, and more willing to defend themselves than Aris. I don't mean to say the entire FGC is rotten, and I love fighting games all the same. But there's an underlying issue that's not being touched on here, and it's that the spectator community is too often worse than Bakhtanians.

It really is. And if they plan to get money from Capcom to hold events and what not, they need to reform or GTFO. You can't expect big companies to fund your endeavors while all along you are shoving sexist, racists, and whatever else you can think of down everyone's throat. If you want the fighting game community to remain this way, then keep it in your basement. If you bring it out into public, you need to reform. End of story.

Yes and no. There should definitely be some sort of code of conduct, especially in the instance such as there where Capcom is actively producing and releasing this content under their name, but you can't control the fan base. That's like trying to control what is commented on YouTube. What they can do is during live events where people are able to show up and watch have security or tournament staff be in the crowd and available for complaints and taking care of issues that arise, very much like a sporting event. Saying that people in chat or comment threads denote an entire community is just not accurate. How many people on CoD are racist, sexist bigots who get off on yelling at people half their age? It isn't a problem with the fighting community itself, but rather a large part of the gaming community as a whole. People need to grow up.

Posted by Dolphin_Butter

Honestly, I don't give a shit if he apologizes for his COMMENTS because, if you articulate and contextualize it enough, his previous statements are a bit understandable. It's his ACTIONS he needs to be held accountable for, and nowhere in this manufactured reply did I see an apology directly addressed to Super Yan nor was there even an acknowledgement for the actual harassment happening live on the stream. Personally, I feel as though and real issue has been buried, and this whole story has now become about some petty internal squabble about legitimacy.

Posted by Hailinel
@Junpei Yes, the athlete is to blame, but when athletes do something heinous, if reflects poorly on those associated with them. It's why the NBA came down hard on Ron Artest for going into the stands in Detroit and fighting spectators. They didn't want his stupidity to reflect poorly on the entire league.
Posted by MrCranch

Wow.

Herewith, the Lesson of the Aris Event: Do not cross the prevailing orthodoxy. Oh, wait: That's how it's always been. The mob-fueled intolerance and bullying conformity on display here is downright amusing. Impose your morality much, my friends?

Funny thing is, this is how it's *supposed* to work: Society has it rules and bounds and society enforces them. But it is tiresome when "tolerance" and "non-conformity" are worshipped and prattled on about by those most quick to clamp down...

Posted by Little_Socrates

@Junpei: Fair point, but I don't play online games with a mic on either. And I specifically said it does not denote an entire community, but that members of that community are too often out of line. Also, our chat definitely has actual moderators that will ban people for saying the wrong things, and we only need one or two mods on for any individual live event to make that happen. I'd actually argue that our numbers are similar a shocking amount of the time, so to guess that they could do to hire a couple chat mods to at least slow the tide would do a lot. There's no self-moderation like there is when you play Call of Duty online (where it's very easy to report another player for using offensive language) and so that responsibility falls on the stream hosts.

Posted by langdonx

@Little_Socrates said:

Before you quickly defend these guys, I recommend hanging out in chat of a tournament like Cross Assault. Even if you think Bakhtanians isn't so bad (he's terrible) there's 20 in the chat worse than Aris, louder than Aris, and more willing to defend themselves than Aris. I don't mean to say the entire FGC is rotten, and I love fighting games all the same. But there's an underlying issue that's not being touched on here, and it's that the spectator community is too often worse than Bakhtanians.

You're not kidding, but I doubt that any of the "stream monsters" would say any of the things that they say in the stream chat IRL. This sums up what the folks in any stream chat say. So maybe Aris is just as bad as they are, but dialed it back in a non-anonymous social settings. Don't get me wrong, I though the show was super entertaining, in part due to Aris. He's not a bad guy at all... but he did get a little creepy w/ the smelling comments. I feel like Miranda could've nipped the whole thing in the bud on day 1 by simply telling him to stop bothering her. It didn't require effectively quitting the show or (what I assume happen) complaining to the shows producer about Aris' behavior (AGAIN, TOTAL ASSUMPTION, but it's often times how things work because people can't stand up for themselves).

Posted by PatPandaHat

@MrCranch:I believe that was the sound of your privilege just being stamped on. Don't worry though, I'm sure you'll have more to be stamped on the next time the "prevailing orthodoxy" tries to make you do something you don't wanna.

Edited by apackofnewports
Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn’t like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect.

What a crock of shit. I pretty much grew up in arcades and this was hardly the case. yeah of course we would always eye any newcomers, but would gladly accept them if they could game. even if they couldn't we would teach and show the beginners stuff, but never made them feel uncomfortable. mind you gaming hasn't always been a part of mainstream culture. we weren't the typical popular crowd, so ostracizing people was generally frowned upon.

And can someone please explain the following statement.

My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself.

Wut?

This guy was obviously contacted by Capcom to make good on this. I highly doubt he actually feels this way, considering the diarrhea that came out of his mouth.

edit: spelling

Posted by apackofnewports

@langdonx: she did ask him to knock it off on multiple occasions.

Posted by zacharai

Way to cover this, Patrick. The more transparency into these insular communities, the more they grow up from pre-teen insults and casual misogyny and racism. I know people want something a little stronger than "you suck", but "rape that bitch" ain't it.

Posted by tyxja

This whole thing is so silly. Hateful comments about women from a man who no doubt has never been with one.

Posted by mrfluke
@zacharai said:

Way to cover this, Patrick. The more transparency into these insular communities, the more they grow up from pre-teen insults and casual misogyny and racism. I know people want something a little stronger than "you suck", but "rape that bitch" ain't it.

this, all the way 
Posted by cikame

People are taking this too seriously.

Posted by JoshyLee

Fuck that guy.

Posted by darkdragonmage99
@Gaspar:  Bitch is no more sexist them calling someone a dick . And yelling rape in video game terms is rather common example when I sneak up on a guy and assassinate him in halo I just ass raped that bitch. Surprise butt sex has been a internet meme for years.  
Posted by mfpantst
@ABK_92: Sure I'll grant you that, but are you harping on their bra size?  Are you talking about putting a camera in the bathroom so you can watch them while they go?  Are you sniffing them?  Are you constantly drawing attention to their thighs and butts?  Do you consider that normal part of your banter?  Because for me, that's the problem here.  That's what he's doing that's so bad.
Posted by Bravestar

that statement doesn't explain why he sexually harassed a girl for days. or anything he said.

Posted by darkdragonmage99
@ThePilgrums:  You clearly don't understand the meaning behind rape in that connotation .  
 

 To utterly defeat another person in any form of competitive activies.
Dude, I totally raped your ass during that last game of Age of Empires. 
  
language evolves the meaning of words or not stagnant. 
Posted by Hailinel
@Bravestar

that statement doesn't explain why he sexually harassed a girl for days. or anything he said.

I don't think he's capable of any such explanation. I get the feeling that it's intellectually and emotionally beyond his comprehension.
Posted by FateOfNever

And nothing at all about his sexual harassment of Super_Yan. For some reason I'm not surprised and I think that reason is that very few people seem to have even acknowledged that he did it. That's the real disgusting story here if you ask me. Not that he wants the FGC to remain hostile but that no one, not even Capcom, seems to care that he sexually harassed a person for days.

Posted by MrMazz

Really this was a matter of time and place and a lack of common sense. Really yelling Rape that Bitch or any thing like that on a CAPCOM SPONSORED STREAM!!! is smart?? Sure maybe at like WNF or some smaller scene horseing around and tomfoolery is ok but on the level they were not so much.

Good job Patrick

Posted by MrCranch

@PatPandaHat: My "privilege"? Have we met? Or are you operating under some bigoted stereotype? Are you making some presumption based on my name, perhaps? The ethnic context of us Cranches has nothing to do with our philosophical points.

And to be clear, I like orthodoxy. I think society *should* chastise and shun transgressors. I just have a distaste for mobs.

Posted by DeviTiffany

I apologize beforehand for generalizing, but as someone who's a lot more casual fighting game fan and likes watching tournaments from time to time I feel fighting games have the worst community I've seen in video games and stuff like this does nothing but continue to prove me right. I know not everyone is like this and I'm glad people like Ricky Ortiz and Kayopolice seem to get along fine, but still it's never felt welcoming to me. A lot of it just always seemed like constant hostile elitism or whining about something.

Posted by Nurabsal

That was an apology?

Posted by Edtheclaw55

@chaosnovaxz: Well he just didn't say "rape" and "bitch" he talked about smelling her, and her bra size.

Posted by BisonHero

@joshrholloway said:

I get the feeling that Aris doesn't really understand why people are upset at him.

I get that feeling too. He is aware people suddenly got mad at him, but I get the sense he is just blindly apologizing without really reconsidering his views. I imagine him just thinking that he has to rephrase his position to explain it better, but it sounds like an intrinsic part of his position is "EVERY part of the current FGC is important, even off-hand sexist remarks and people at tournaments yelling awful things at female players".

Sorry, Aris, but no girlfriend or basketball analogy in the world is going to justify that.

Posted by depecheload

@MrCranch said:

@PatPandaHat: My "privilege"? Have we met? Or are you operating under some bigoted stereotype? Are you making some presumption based on my name, perhaps? The ethnic context of us Cranches has nothing to do with our philosophical points.

And to be clear, I like orthodoxy. I think society *should* chastise and shun transgressors. I just have a distaste for mobs.

If you're a man you have privilege that women do not, more so if you are white/straight.

Posted by PatPandaHat

@MrCranch said:

@PatPandaHat: My "privilege"? Have we met?

Of course not. Merely expressing my view that the people most likely to complain about the encroaching mobs acting in the name of tolerance and non-conformity, typically placing scare quotes around those two words, worrying themselves over the imposition of orthodoxy upon those few rebellious few who think for themselves are typically people deep into some manner of societal privilege.

Or narrowing that down some, that there's a tendency for Internet contrariness to side with the other mob out there, the one genuinely on the side of intolerence and conformity to The Majority, typically represented by a bunch of old straight white dudes, because those gosh-darned liberal white knight whozits are making problems out of things that don't bother them (Internet contrarians) any.

Posted by mrfievel

I think all the people saying that people should never say offensive jokes publicly are forgetting what site they're on. Out of context the Bombcast could get Jeff and Ryan in a heap of trouble with all sorts of different races, not to mention child advocacy groups. There is however two distinctions between Aris's commentary and the way the Bombcast handles these jokes that I'd like to make clear.

First off Aris's comments are lust filled and directed. If they were in a bar together he'd basically be flirting with her. The problem with this is obvious: they aren't in a bar. He's the leader of a team and she's in a position where she'd be ostracized for rejecting his advances. She's forced to take his advances with none of the outs a normal bar room setting gives. This is the same reason that work place sexual harassment is wrong.

Second off Aris just isn't good at making these sort of jokes. Jokes like these, in the modern day, require an undertone of ridiculousness. When Jeff or Ryan jokes about Swedes the real joke isn't that Swedes are crazy or weird but that their views on Swedes are crazy or weird. Aris's joke here is basically "you have boobs lol," which just doesn't fly in this day and age.

tl;dr These sorts of jokes are ok but require a deft hand. Aris does not have that deft hand.

Posted by ImperiousRix

I will accept Aris' apology, but his assertions that this is what the culture of the FGC is based around is still ludicrous. I understand and sincerely feel for the fact that, when he talked to Jared, he probably was a bit heated and wanted to defend the thing that he loved, but just because something has been a way for '15 years' does not mean that some element of change or evolution is not recommended.

It's funny he should also mention the arcade scene, too, as Greg Kasavin weighed in on Twitter yesterday saying that he felt that 'back in the day', because internet anonymity and all that wasn't part of the 'scene', you had to be a bit more polite and respectful to everyone because (SURPRISINGLY) you didn't want to be ostracized from the local arcade for being a complete dick.

And if I may just riff for one last second, I hope against hope that fighting games do receive a bit more mainstream love, even if that means enforcement of a code of conduct. I feel the, as I said in the last post, that there's such a great opportunity to foster this huge community and following, and one that's based on the actual mechanics of the game. I want 'HYPE' to have as positive a connotation as anything else in games. I want people to think that they can learn to play the games with feeling only the required minimum of hostile resistance, and not an overwhelming sense of it.

Posted by PulledaBrad

Anyone saying that this type of behavior is tradition and "part of our community" should be fucking ashamed. Barbarians.

Posted by TiE23

@cikame said:

People are taking this too seriously.

@JoshyLee said:

Fuck that guy.

Yeah, I'm kind of between those two. He has a point about being upset about the taming that "eSports" may bring to a rough and tumble scene, Jeff and Patrick made that argument very clear on yesterday's podcast.

But on the other hand he is being a total pig about not apologizing for the sexual comments he made, which in any context are just wrong.

And lastly, yet, the word "rape" has been adopted to have an additional meaning. The term "base rape" has been a part of server messages in Battlefield games for years now, for instance, and words are just used like that over time. Saying "I murdered you bad" shouldn't offend murdered people (or rather their relatives). "I beat your ass" shouldn't offend victims of bullying or domestic abuse. "I own you" isn't an allusion to slavery. And when you say "I'm raping your ass" in a competitive game, you're not actually raping the person. It's a turn of phrase.

You walk the line when you bring the victim's sex being female into mind in the example of "yeah, rape that bitch!", That should only be incidental... we ought to practice sexual equality when it comes to "raping" people in video games. Then it's okay...

I hate "arguing" about P.C. bullshit.

Posted by Delta_Ass

Thanks Patrick "Patrick" Klepek.

Posted by JJRage

This guy looks and sounds like a Grade A douchebag.

This isn't an apology, this is damage control.

Posted by Napalm
@TiE23: At the end of the day, don't be a fucking creepy creep-o. That's the most baseline thing to take away from this. This guy seems to have no idea about social cues and what's acceptable, so he has no reference for common sense.
Posted by Alex_Carrillo

@chaosnovaxz: The implications of your uneducated, idiotic comment made that very clear.

Posted by PatPandaHat

@TiE23 said:

And lastly, yet, the word "rape" has been adopted to have an additional meaning.

See, this is the part that still hasn't been defined well enough. Why? It has a meaning already, which means that when it was first adopted by various video game communities, that original meaning was relevant to its use. And that original meaning is ugly and abhorrent and probably shouldn't be regarded as acceptable as just another goddamn synonym for "capture" or "defeat" or whatever, anymore than if it'd been "base lynching" or whatever.

Maybe the problem isn't so much that you've been using "rape" as some in-crowd code word and nobody understands that, but that no one defending the in-crowd code word use seems to grasp that you didn't need to use the fucking word to begin with.

Posted by Alex_Carrillo

@Doomshine: No, this is fairly straight forward. He's a repulsive piece of shit, the people who defend him and his actions are just as bad, male or female.

Posted by Milkman

So, how does "what's your bra size?" keep the sanctity of fighting game trash talk alive exactly? 

Online
Posted by Sauson
Edited by TeflonBilly

NSFW language, but it'd be nice to see the tables turned on Aris, cause you know he'd just fall apart if a girl talked back at him

Posted by scottygrayskull

Backpedal any further there Aris and you'll fall back into that hole of shit you dug yourself into. Your comments do reflect the opinions of yourself, which is that you'd rather the fighting game scene be your own private boys club. Keep it up and fighting games will go back to being as irrelevant as they have been for most of the last 15 years. Yes, arcades didn't welcome newcomers and look where they are at now.

As a goodwill gesture it'd be nice if he dropped out of the show, and maybe gave any gains from it to charity.

Posted by High_Nunez

This whole story got really boring really fast. Anyway, I've always found it weird that it's taboo to insult people if they're gay, female, and non-white, but it's totally okay to insult them for any other reason. Always seemed inconsistent to me.

Posted by Treadstone

That was barely an apology.

Also, I don't buy this guy's claim that institutionalized sexism and hate is an integral part of the competitive fighter scene. I've seen plenty of gaming tournaments where the only two elements are the quality of the games being played and the skill of the players involved. That's all they need to be a fun experience for those playing and for those watching.

Now that the vitriol and harassment that run rampant in this community has come to the attention of the outside world, hopefully some positive change can occur. Those who are in the FGC for the fighting games will likely stay. Those who leave because they can no longer be sexist or hateful toward their peers will find themselves without a protective little bubble in which they can be assholes without consequence.

Posted by abbie

I don't see how saying "my quotes were taken out of context" without citing examples is an apology. While it is correct that quotes are often pulled "out of context" for an article (that is the inherent core of writing an article vs not having media and only first hand sources) I don't think any amount of context makes what Aris said more palatable. Even in the original statements, his defense of this attitude is a logical fallacy. "If you were a REAL member of the fighting game community, you would understand". But you can't really apologize for something you don't really feel bad about, can you? My guess is that he only feels bad that this is a problem for him right now.