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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 patrickklepek
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.

Staff
Posted by pants

Oh boy, this story blew up

Posted by selbie

Much ado about nothing IMO

Posted by Barrock

Thank you for covering this Patrick. Talking shit is one thing. And if you want to talk about raping one another in private, fine. But there's no appropriate public situation where yelling the phrase "Rape that bitch!" is socially acceptable.

Posted by Hot_Karl

We shall revisit this soon.

Honestly can't believe how huge this thing got in less than 24 hours. I would love to read the responses from folks all over the scene. Looking forward to it.

Posted by Eribuster

Nice of him to respond. Still, it's a shame he didn't check himself while he was playing in the competition show, difficult as it may be.

Edited by IndieMax
Posted by Gaspar

Maybe if "fighting game players like to smack-talk" was in any way similar to "calling women 'bitch' and cheering for them to get 'raped' is a cornerstone of our community" people would accept that apology a little more willingly...

(i.e. What @Barrock said.)

Posted by shodan2020

From yesterday's article:

Rea: "When I go to SoCal regionals and I see a Phoenix [from Marvel vs. Capcom 3] on main stage getting blown up and there’s some dude in the audience just yelling “Bitch! Bitch!” every time she gets hit and then she killed and goes “Yeah, rape that bitch!” Yeah, that’s totally acceptable! Really? Really? You’re going to tell me that’s acceptable?"

I don't know if I would classify some dude shouting "Rape that bitch!" as "mild" hostility. That seems pretty fucking hostile and disgusting to me.

Posted by AtomicEdge

Do you think when arguing with his girlfriend he says "YEAH, I'M GONNA RAPE YOU BITCH!?". Then deeply regrets it?

What am I saying. Girlfriend! Ha!

Online
Posted by Wunder_

I don't understand the need to release an article or update every single time something happens. Prior to this, most articles published were well researched and featured both sides of the story. Just because someone declined to be interviewed, doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't speak with you after, for example, the reality show they were contracted to be filming ended?

I don't quite get why there was such a need to publish this story as fast as possible, I thought the whole point of Giantbomb was to get filtered and well researched articles, rather than a flood of knee-jerk articles based around twitter posts or what was said on a stream.

Posted by NathHaw

So can we at least say he's not Satan now?

Posted by Vague_Optimism

It's cool, guys: His statements don't reflect his statements. DIVIDING BY ZERO OH SHIII--

Edited by ReyGitano

This is great though. Really, I feel like so many things that blow up like this online, such as the Bioware employee issue, could just be avoided if people recognized that they went a little too far with their comments. The internet thrives on these kinds of issues, and giving them more fuel is just dumb. At least Aris is trying to pour some water on the fire by admitting he went too far instead of breathing more life into it by trying to further defend those comments.

edit: Great work Patrick following this story. It's one of just cultural pieces that's actually prevalent to the industry, unlike some of the pieces you see on other video game websites like "What's the latest fashion in Japan?".

Posted by WiqidBritt

you can still have the sink or swim mentality without referring to rape or asking what a girl's bra size is.

there's a fine line between "oh that bitch just got fucked up" and "yeah fucking rape that bitch" and neither should really be stated by hosts or commentators on any kind of official broadcast or stream if they want the scene to grow and become more profitable.

Posted by sub_o

He apologizes. That's not a bad thing.

Posted by patrickklepek

@Wunder_ said:

I don't understand the need to release an article or update every single time something happens. Prior to this, most articles published were well researched and featured both sides of the story. Just because someone declined to be interviewed, doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't speak with you after, for example, the reality show they were contracted to be filming ended?

I don't quite get why there was such a need to publish this story as fast as possible, I thought the whole point of Giantbomb was to get filtered and well researched articles, rather than a flood of knee-jerk articles based around twitter posts or what was said on a stream.

The problem is that the folks involved declined to even tell me they couldn't talk under contract, even if I'm to assume that is true. I can't make assumptions like that, and can only report on the facts in front of me. Given that folks like Super__Yan ended up saying my reporting was accurate, I'm happy with how it turned out, despite some of the reaction.

Staff
Posted by drac96

@IndieMax: I hadn't read that article. You're right, it is well done. The embedded video is especially awesome.

Posted by ThePilgrums

"What I was trying to communicate is that mild hostility has always been a defining characteristic of the fighting game scene."

So rape is "mild hostility", huh? Well, you and I have very different definitions of "mild", Mr. Aris...

Posted by hollitz

"My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself." This man could be a politician.

Posted by PatPandaHat

"Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn't like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

Perhaps it's me, but it feels like the decline of the arcade and this attitude have a correlation.

Posted by PandaShake

@Wunder_: The news section, I felt, used to be very barren with Nicholson doing the best he could. With Patrick, we're actually getting articles that are update, follow ups, and in-depth interviews that doesn't exist elsewhere. The site becomes livelier with ongoing articles and if this article was combined with the other, it would have been too huge of a piece.

Edited by chaosnovaxz

In this story - competitive gamers are often stupid and like to talk shit.

The sexism angle is just dumb, though. Saying "rape" is a misogynist term and only applies to women makes me question whether or not anyone knows what "rape" is, but apparently saying that makes me sexist too, if the community is to be believed.

Like I said in the other thread on this story, dumb shit like "rape that bitch!" shouldn't be said at all. However, you'll often hear such phrases in groups containing only guys playing. It's no excuse, and I don't mean this to sound cold, but it's silly when a female gamer hops in that group and all of a sudden claims that such phrases are being directed at her because she's female and all the guys are sexist bastards.

I happen to have two female friends heavily into online shooters (mostly CoD), that will talk shit and throw out words like "rape" and "bitch" with the worst of the guys. But it's ok if they do it, right?

Posted by DarthOrange

He has a point. If you try to get into the fighting game scene alone, people will ignore you. Trust me I know. Go to an arcade and I guarantee you will be destroyed if it is your first time there and people will be reluctant to talk to you. The only reason I even learned of this is that I was friends with some people who were already into fighting games and they helped me get my foot in the door. That said I try to stay at arms length because some of those guys because they can be antisocial dicks but they make up only a small percentage of that community. Patrick, you of all people, working on the internet, should know that the vocal minority tends to consist of the biggest assholes.

Posted by Wuddel

He might has to come to terms with the fact that "mild hostility" is simply bad sportsmanship IRL.

Edited by Stahlbrand

@hollitz said:

"My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself." This man could be a politician.

My thoughts exactly.

Also: "I was angry at people who want to open the community up and grow the scene, I want to keep it limited to angry neckbeards until such time as we alienate each other and the community is finally dead."

Posted by Barrock

@chaosnovaxz said:

In this story - competitive gamers are often stupid and like to talk shit.

The sexism angle is just dumb, though. Saying "rape" is a misogynist term and only applies to women makes me question whether or not anyone knows what "rape" is, but apparently saying that makes me sexist too, if the community is to be believed.

Like I said in the other thread on this story, dumb shit like "rape that bitch!" shouldn't be said at all. However, you'll often hear such phrases in groups containing only guys playing. It's no excuse, and I don't mean this to sound cold, but it's silly when a female gamer hops in that group and all of a sudden claims that such phrases are being directed at her because she's female and all the guys are sexist bastards.

The sexism was hitting on the woman and asking her what her bra size is on camera. That's unacceptable.

"Rape that bitch" is just a fucked up thing to say around anyone, male or female.

Posted by IndieMax

@drac96: It's a shame that the FGC keeps trying to show of the great things about the scene and the community and the only thing that get some attention in the more mainstream gamejournalism is things like this incident.

Paralel to cross assault the mortal kombat scene raised money for charity and there were other great tournaments but this is what peaople focus on. the FGC is back on square one again. But I do hope and belive that Patrick is going to write up some more about this and hopefully the FGC and that maybe it will show a better view of it.

I'm not trying to defend Aris in what he did. It's just that the few things that he said about that community isn't what I recognize from the streams and so on. What people do in the crowd is one thing. But the FGC is trying to build up to something greater and surely it's a struggle and it doesn't want to become "esports" and lose all of it's charm. But I hope that with all this bad press maybe some of the good press can shine trough.

Posted by xx1nfidelxx

@patrickklepek: Good job Patrick. I'm happier and happier that you're apart of Giant Bomb. Keep it coming man.

Posted by Skogen

It was obvious from the get go that Aris's statements were being misinterpreted. Crucify a man with poor diction in a heated moment, way to go game journos. The whole "I wrote this article, but skipped through hours of context" bit is what bothers me here. If someone bothered to get the whole "scoop" they would know there is drama that extends beyond the show and the topic is totally unrelated to the Miranda incident.

Posted by ReyGitano

@Wunder_ said:

I don't understand the need to release an article or update every single time something happens. Prior to this, most articles published were well researched and featured both sides of the story. Just because someone declined to be interviewed, doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't speak with you after, for example, the reality show they were contracted to be filming ended?

I don't quite get why there was such a need to publish this story as fast as possible, I thought the whole point of Giantbomb was to get filtered and well researched articles, rather than a flood of knee-jerk articles based around twitter posts or what was said on a stream.

This is a well done piece of investigative journalism with information from primary sources coming in when Patrick gets tem. The point of Giant Bomb is to filter out knee-jerk articles, but in my mind those are articles like... well let's view Kotaku's front page and see what we find.

"Where Japanese Thugs Meet and Date Online"

"This is the ugliest 3DS ever"

"Are these Doom 4 screenshots?"

Yeah, I'm pretty happy with where Giant Bomb is at right now.

Posted by joshwent

So the root of his point is this, "Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn’t like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this is simply immature. Some folks are so defined by the little group they put themselves in that they can't stand to see any other people enjoying the same thing unless it's according to their terms.

I love playing fighting games with my friends at home, and I'd love to expand that group, but I've always been weary that I'd be ostracized for not being good enough. Admiration should be earned, but if you don't give someone respect, especially someone trying to learn from you, you can't expect it in return.

I guess I should thank Aris for conforming my fears that I'm not welcome. :(

Posted by benson

I don't think his apology is sincere or that he even understands what people are complaining about. Super_Yan asked him repeatedly to stop being a giant douchebag and he did nothing. He's not sorry about his behaviour, he's only sorry that he got caught.

" This was a combination of the people taking things out of context"

I would love to hear him explain in what context "the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community" makes sense. I really hope he ends up ostracized by the rest of the FGC, because it doesn't need people like him.

Posted by NoelVeiga

It's cool that he apologized, and I do believe that's him doing that (the note is poorly written enough that it certainly doesn't come from a PR pro). Doesn't mean I agree with him, I was in arcades 15 years ago and we didn't feel the need to haze anybody for coming in for the first time. I'm also not a fan of the "I'm sorry you got offended" line of apologies. And avoiding sexist and downright nasty talk is not "censorship". Nobody is asking to fine or expel anybody for saying stuff (not that anybody could, this is not an organized group), we're talking about people not being assholes to each other. Willingly. Or those people would get called out on their being assholes. Which is what happened.

But hey, whatever, at that point it's a nerdy argument about how "the good old times" worked. I'm not particularly happy that "the tournament crowd" assimilated the whole "fighting games community", because they're not the same thing, and I honestly believe that assimilation is what killed fighting games in the early 2000's. I'm more than happy to have that conversation, but that's not the same issue this raised.

So, in short, apology accepted, issue not resolved, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Stahlbrand

@PatPandaHat said:

"Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn't like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

Perhaps it's me, but it feels like the decline of the arcade and this attitude have a correlation.

Yup. As a kid (think 12-13) I was intimidated out of more than one arcade by super-serious D-bags and guys at-least-posing-to-be gangsters. So I stopped going to arcades because people are scum.

Posted by NathHaw

@Stahlbrand said:

@PatPandaHat said:

"Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn't like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

Perhaps it's me, but it feels like the decline of the arcade and this attitude have a correlation.

Yup. As a kid (think 12-13) I was intimidated out of more than one arcade by super-serious D-bags and guys at-least-posing-to-be gangsters. So I stopped going to arcades because people are scum.

Probably a miniscule correlation. Arcades went out, because people started playing games at home.

Posted by artgarcrunkle

This dude got hung out to dry so the rest of us ridiculous manchildren could get all indignant and pretend we don't say dumb shit sometimes. Every single competitive gaming community is like this, a bunch of dorks with arrested development who probably didn't have much of a filter to begin with getting together and letting loose.

Edited by joshwent

@chaosnovaxz said:

I happen to have two female friends heavily into online shooters (mostly CoD), that will talk shit and throw out words like "rape" and "bitch" with the worst of the guys. But it's ok if they do it, right?

No, of course it's not. Using that language is making light of an atrocity, pure and simple. Rape is a horror, and just because you or anyone else is using the term out of context, doesn't mean you aren't invoking its real meaning.

If I start saying "burn that jew" or "lynch that nigger", is it okay if I'm really just talking about a shooter or a fighting game? No, it would never be.

I'm not saying people should censor themselves. I'm just trying to express that some language is inately hurtful, no matter the context.

Posted by Alex_Carrillo

This person is still a piece of shit. It wasn't his defense of the vile, anti-social video game scene he's a part of, it's to due with how he treated another human being, and how he comports himself around members of the opposite sex. This isn't an isolated incident. This bearded man-cow has had history of being absolutely repulsive towards women.

Until he changes that completely, he can go fuck himself (as I assume is the only possible way he can get off), and so can anyone else who defends his dog shit behavior.

Posted by Ne0teric

Saying you are going to smell someone while saying their boyfriend's name over a live stream is just a fucked up thing to do. In or out of any context.

Posted by NoelVeiga

@artgarcrunkle: I try my best to not say dumb shit and that's not the image I have of the gaming community as a whole.

There's a serious case of metonymy going on here. People who are harsher push the normal guys towards silence and eventually the harsh style is considered to be intrinsic to the whole group. That's unfortunate. I'm glad this is being discussed so that more level heads can prevail and in turn rope in more reasonable people.

Posted by OneManX

as a dude, who loves Fighting games, sometimes I think the players do more to harm than the games.

No one is saying they need to censor, but again a little tact wouldn't hurt. A Capcom sponsored stream might not be the best place to say, "Rape that Bitch" or make lewd comments to female players.

Posted by Alex_Carrillo

@chaosnovaxz said:

In this story - competitive gamers are often stupid and like to talk shit.

The sexism angle is just dumb, though. Saying "rape" is a misogynist term and only applies to women makes me question whether or not anyone knows what "rape" is, but apparently saying that makes me sexist too, if the community is to be believed.

Like I said in the other thread on this story, dumb shit like "rape that bitch!" shouldn't be said at all. However, you'll often hear such phrases in groups containing only guys playing. It's no excuse, and I don't mean this to sound cold, but it's silly when a female gamer hops in that group and all of a sudden claims that such phrases are being directed at her because she's female and all the guys are sexist bastards.

I happen to have two female friends heavily into online shooters (mostly CoD), that will talk shit and throw out words like "rape" and "bitch" with the worst of the guys. But it's ok if they do it, right?

It wasn't just the fact that "rape that bitch" was uttered in context of a competitive atmosphere. It was the fact that he continuously asked her what her bra size was. It's the fact that he got up on her and started smelling her. It's the fact that when she asked to go to the restroom, he asked her if she would go "number one or number two", and while she was in there talked about how he'd like to drill holes into the the bathroom. It's the fact that he's had history of being a vile piece of shit towards women.

So, before you start accusing someone of having a persecution complex let's fucking read a little bit more, shall we? Or would you like to continue talking about the severe hypocritical male oppression you seem so sure is happening.

Posted by SpaceInsomniac

This seems to me less of an issue concerning how trash talk is part of the community, and more an issue of how oblivious some people can be when they're "only kidding."

Within reason, it wouldn't matter what he said to her, as long as it was clear that the verbal barbs were a two way street. If two people are having fun insulting each other, then let them. If one person is doing all the insulting, and the other clearly just wants to be left alone, then it simply needs to stop.

As far as I'm concerned, the line isn't what is being said about someone, but how they're responding. If they're not giving as good as they get and obviously having fun with the exchange, then continued abuse makes you an asshole / bully at worst, and socially inept at best.

Posted by cassus

As you can see, the only way to become a good fighting game player is abuse. You bunch of molested prostitutes.

Posted by Stahlbrand

@nrh79 said:

@Stahlbrand said:

@PatPandaHat said:

"Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn't like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

Perhaps it's me, but it feels like the decline of the arcade and this attitude have a correlation.

Yup. As a kid (think 12-13) I was intimidated out of more than one arcade by super-serious D-bags and guys at-least-posing-to-be gangsters. So I stopped going to arcades because people are scum.

Probably a miniscule correlation. Arcades went out, because people started playing games at home.

And why did people start playing games at home? Musta been because everybody loved shitty 16-bit ports and tiny plastic controllers so much.

Posted by NathHaw

@Stahlbrand said:

@nrh79 said:

@Stahlbrand said:

@PatPandaHat said:

"Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn't like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect."

Perhaps it's me, but it feels like the decline of the arcade and this attitude have a correlation.

Yup. As a kid (think 12-13) I was intimidated out of more than one arcade by super-serious D-bags and guys at-least-posing-to-be gangsters. So I stopped going to arcades because people are scum.

Probably a miniscule correlation. Arcades went out, because people started playing games at home.

And why did people start playing games at home? Musta been because everybody loved shitty 16-bit ports and tiny plastic controllers so much.

It was convenience and quarters really added up. My family owned multiple pool halls and arcades.

Edited by artgarcrunkle

@Stahlbrand: Because you get to sit on a couch in a room that isn't incredibly loud and full of smelly randos. Also you aren't pumping quarters into a game that's designed to be lucrative for the operator. You're really bending over backwards to support a weak point.

Posted by onan

@Skogen said:

It was obvious from the get go that Aris's statements were being misinterpreted. Crucify a man with poor diction in a heated moment, way to go game journos. The whole "I wrote this article, but skipped through hours of context" bit is what bothers me here. If someone bothered to get the whole "scoop" they would know there is drama that extends beyond the show and the topic is totally unrelated to the Miranda incident.

I watched 2 minutes of one of the videos and Aris was saying the two female competitors should mud wrestle and that he would like to take on the winner. Were all of his statements being misinterpreted? It seems like everything out of his mouth was offensive. If it was a one-off comment or unintentional double entendre I'm sure it could be ignored, but come on.

If someone said something antisemitic, would that also be part of the culture? Where's the line drawn?

The FGC needs to decide if they want to maintain their "culture" or be taken seriously. It's not going to be both. I'm just a little shocked than manning up and not behaving like a twelve-year-old child is such a sacrifice.

Edited by RedCricketChase

So, he basically feels like he backs what he said, even though he's sorry it came across as extreme? Grody to the max.