RE: When Passions Flare, Lines are Crossed

After reading all of this stuff surrounding sexual harassment in the fighting game community, I can't say I'm super surprised. As someone who's been tangentially interested in fighting games to the point that I've participated in some tournaments, I have always been aware that the fighting game community has an abundance of unsavory members. This is true for almost all competitive games (including sports), but why is it that fighting games get the bad reputation for it? This is the question I've been pondering for the past few days, and I think I have some answers--or at least some guesses--as to why this is the way of things.

I suppose the absolute main reason why the fighting game community is viewed so negatively is there are so many players who present themselves as negative people. Clearly, this isn't true of all fighting game lovers. I, for one, despise the verbal abuse I've been subject to in SFIV competitions and refuse to respond to it. The problem here though is that my behaviors (and those of my friends that act similarly) don't matriculate up into the higher levels of fighting game play. It seems like the top tier players of many fighting games resort to verbal abuse, and the community as a whole just accepts it because--despite what they say--these players are still really good at video games. As a result of this, the most highly visible members of the fighting game community are mostly these disrespectful people, which entices many members of the scene to emulate these negative idols. This kind of phenomenon, while not exclusive to the fighting game community, is a particularly huge problem in the fighting game scene and this is perhaps why the fighting game crowd is most remarkably viewed negatively.

This point may seem fairly obvious, mostly because it is, but I wanted to point it out because--despite being the primary reason why the fighting game community is considered largely horrible--it's not where all the hate comes from. Saying that "hate breeds hate" doesn't get us any closer to figuring out where it first came from. I know Jeff had some things to say regarding the origins of the fighting game community when he related the scene to that of freestyle rappers, and I think he is on to something there. People in heated situations that are unsure of themselves or in a position of vulnerability (e.g. a one-on-one competition that is being spectated) will lash out and do what they can to try and get an edge and succeed; it's a basic survival instinct. By doing whatever possible to "rattle" the opponent, people in these situations can have an easier time establishing their dominance. This is true in both freestyle rap and fighting games.

The only problem with the analogy between fighting games and freestyle rap, however, is the same problem that exists with every analogy: It's fallacy. No matter how similar these two scenes may appear, they still have fundamental differences that set them apart, and the main difference between these two activities is the skill involved. In freestyle rap competitions, competitors are literally competing to determine linguistic prowess. Because of this, communication is a necessity within this community. Of course, this communication does not have to be aimed at humiliating opponents, but this is (sadly) the norm; the survival instincts kick in for those that are unsure of themselves and they look to construct lyrics that generate enough cognitive dissonance to defeat their opponent. Because freestyle rapping is a battle of language, part of the game includes hurtful language.

In the fighting game community, however, communication is not necessary, at least in the heat of a battle; but, it invariably does occur and it seems that many players use their communicative abilities to take their opponent's focus off of the game at hand. Once again, this is very similar to freestyle rap, but because the game does not actually require communication between players, it seems less-than-necessary and a cheap tactic to try and win. That's right, I said it: talking trash in fighting games--or anything, really--is cheap.

I am fully aware that the big, bad "C" word is a bit of a no-no for fighting game enthusiasts. There are often articles and blog posts cited (mostly by fighting game players) that proclaim: "When you're playing to win, there is no such thing as cheap." The oft cited David Sirlin article-turned-book entitled Playing to Win even suggests players use game bugs to increase their chances of winning. Apparently, if it's in the game, it's fair play. My question for fighting game players though is this: what about if it's not in the game? What about the people that try to win by spouting the most hurtful language they can possibly think of while playing you in hopes that you'll break your concentration? Is that part of the game? This isn't freestyle rap. Hurtful language doesn't have to come with the territory; some people just use it to make the game about something it inherently isn't. Some say this is just part of the psychological meta-game, while others--myself included--disagree. Hate is hate, and it's a cheap way to try to win.

Now to be clear, I don't want to slight David Sirlin or anyone who focuses on playing to win and the ideal of self-improvement. I think these are valuable ideas, but sometimes these ideas are misinterpreted or taken to the extreme. With regard to the trash talking of fighting game fans, I think that the negativity derives from the mentality that you need to do everything you can to win at all costs. This, however, is a misinterpretation of the "playing to win" creedo. Sirlin and others encourage players to do everything they can within the context of the game to win at all costs. They draw the line at things like game-breaking bugs and broken characters. The reason these lines are drawn are because these exploits reduce the game's entertainment value. It's not fun to play a competitive game in which the competitive aspects of it are compromised. This too can also be said of the hateful fighting game community: The negative attitudes of many players compromise the competitive aspects of fighting games because trash talking takes the focus off of what the game is about, which is defeating your opponent by virtually beating the crap out of them (rather than physically or verbally doing so). In short, bad attitudes make the games I love completely un-enjoyable. Please, all you fighting game negative nancies, get over yourselves. You aren't gangsters, and you're breaking some great games by exploiting factors that exist outside the game. Just fight your fight, win or lose, and try to get better. No words are necessary.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by namestolen

After reading all of this stuff surrounding sexual harassment in the fighting game community, I can't say I'm super surprised. As someone who's been tangentially interested in fighting games to the point that I've participated in some tournaments, I have always been aware that the fighting game community has an abundance of unsavory members. This is true for almost all competitive games (including sports), but why is it that fighting games get the bad reputation for it? This is the question I've been pondering for the past few days, and I think I have some answers--or at least some guesses--as to why this is the way of things.

I suppose the absolute main reason why the fighting game community is viewed so negatively is there are so many players who present themselves as negative people. Clearly, this isn't true of all fighting game lovers. I, for one, despise the verbal abuse I've been subject to in SFIV competitions and refuse to respond to it. The problem here though is that my behaviors (and those of my friends that act similarly) don't matriculate up into the higher levels of fighting game play. It seems like the top tier players of many fighting games resort to verbal abuse, and the community as a whole just accepts it because--despite what they say--these players are still really good at video games. As a result of this, the most highly visible members of the fighting game community are mostly these disrespectful people, which entices many members of the scene to emulate these negative idols. This kind of phenomenon, while not exclusive to the fighting game community, is a particularly huge problem in the fighting game scene and this is perhaps why the fighting game crowd is most remarkably viewed negatively.

This point may seem fairly obvious, mostly because it is, but I wanted to point it out because--despite being the primary reason why the fighting game community is considered largely horrible--it's not where all the hate comes from. Saying that "hate breeds hate" doesn't get us any closer to figuring out where it first came from. I know Jeff had some things to say regarding the origins of the fighting game community when he related the scene to that of freestyle rappers, and I think he is on to something there. People in heated situations that are unsure of themselves or in a position of vulnerability (e.g. a one-on-one competition that is being spectated) will lash out and do what they can to try and get an edge and succeed; it's a basic survival instinct. By doing whatever possible to "rattle" the opponent, people in these situations can have an easier time establishing their dominance. This is true in both freestyle rap and fighting games.

The only problem with the analogy between fighting games and freestyle rap, however, is the same problem that exists with every analogy: It's fallacy. No matter how similar these two scenes may appear, they still have fundamental differences that set them apart, and the main difference between these two activities is the skill involved. In freestyle rap competitions, competitors are literally competing to determine linguistic prowess. Because of this, communication is a necessity within this community. Of course, this communication does not have to be aimed at humiliating opponents, but this is (sadly) the norm; the survival instincts kick in for those that are unsure of themselves and they look to construct lyrics that generate enough cognitive dissonance to defeat their opponent. Because freestyle rapping is a battle of language, part of the game includes hurtful language.

In the fighting game community, however, communication is not necessary, at least in the heat of a battle; but, it invariably does occur and it seems that many players use their communicative abilities to take their opponent's focus off of the game at hand. Once again, this is very similar to freestyle rap, but because the game does not actually require communication between players, it seems less-than-necessary and a cheap tactic to try and win. That's right, I said it: talking trash in fighting games--or anything, really--is cheap.

I am fully aware that the big, bad "C" word is a bit of a no-no for fighting game enthusiasts. There are often articles and blog posts cited (mostly by fighting game players) that proclaim: "When you're playing to win, there is no such thing as cheap." The oft cited David Sirlin article-turned-book entitled Playing to Win even suggests players use game bugs to increase their chances of winning. Apparently, if it's in the game, it's fair play. My question for fighting game players though is this: what about if it's not in the game? What about the people that try to win by spouting the most hurtful language they can possibly think of while playing you in hopes that you'll break your concentration? Is that part of the game? This isn't freestyle rap. Hurtful language doesn't have to come with the territory; some people just use it to make the game about something it inherently isn't. Some say this is just part of the psychological meta-game, while others--myself included--disagree. Hate is hate, and it's a cheap way to try to win.

Now to be clear, I don't want to slight David Sirlin or anyone who focuses on playing to win and the ideal of self-improvement. I think these are valuable ideas, but sometimes these ideas are misinterpreted or taken to the extreme. With regard to the trash talking of fighting game fans, I think that the negativity derives from the mentality that you need to do everything you can to win at all costs. This, however, is a misinterpretation of the "playing to win" creedo. Sirlin and others encourage players to do everything they can within the context of the game to win at all costs. They draw the line at things like game-breaking bugs and broken characters. The reason these lines are drawn are because these exploits reduce the game's entertainment value. It's not fun to play a competitive game in which the competitive aspects of it are compromised. This too can also be said of the hateful fighting game community: The negative attitudes of many players compromise the competitive aspects of fighting games because trash talking takes the focus off of what the game is about, which is defeating your opponent by virtually beating the crap out of them (rather than physically or verbally doing so). In short, bad attitudes make the games I love completely un-enjoyable. Please, all you fighting game negative nancies, get over yourselves. You aren't gangsters, and you're breaking some great games by exploiting factors that exist outside the game. Just fight your fight, win or lose, and try to get better. No words are necessary.

Edited by Sooty

@namestolen said:

What about the people that try to win by spouting the most hurtful language they can possibly think of while playing you in hopes that you'll break your concentration? Is that part of the game?

I have watched a lot of live streams over the years and have never, ever seen anybody trash talk while playing a match in order to throw somebody off their game. I don't know where you are getting this from.

The whole Cross Assault thing doesn't really back up your argument as those comments weren't made during some high tension serious matches or anything, if I remember correctly.

Edit: Be it Japanese or American, when two people are playing they are focused on the game, this is evident if you've ever watched an EVO stream, they are not talking to each other or spouting shit. You're quite off the base with this...

Sure commentators might say stuff, but it's pretty rare that the players can actually hear what they are saying especially as many players wear headsets to drown out noise.

Posted by namestolen

Point taken. I'm largely taking this from personal experience, honestly. Upon re-reading, I realize that I moved between my experiences and those of the high profile fighting game community without really specifying. This was unfair.

That being said, there are still some salient points to discuss. For instance, even if trash talking doesn't occur in the heat of the match, does that make it all right? Is it really that different when you say it at a different time? To me, the intent is still the same, and it's just as inexcusable.

I definitely understand the context of the comments, and I was just ruminating on them. I know the comments themselves were not in a heated match, but they communicated that making inappropriate comments during a match is part of what makes the community what it is, which I don't agree with. Even if the comments aren't coming from someone you are playing at the moment, the ubiquity of them and the approval of them is part of what shuts people out of the scene and draws negative attention. The problem with this is that it's the community actively not making the game enjoyable for some people that may otherwise like it and maybe even excel given practice. And if you ask me, this is one hell of a mind game that breaks the experience for some people.

So, while two players focused on the game aren't necessarily spouting shit at each other on a live stream, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It's happened to me as well as others that I know. On top of that, like you said, the commentators are saying stuff as well, and it shouldn't matter whether the players hear them or not. Commentators should be especially careful because they represent the fighting game community when they take a microphone and begin to speak. Maybe I wasn't as careful with some of my wording as I should have been, but the sentiments behind them remain. If negative commentary wasn't occurring within the fighting game community, then the fighting game community wouldn't have the bad reputation that it does, and that reputation alone can be just as harmful to a game experience as someone shouting in your ear while playing.

Edited by Sooty

@namestolen said:

That being said, there are still some salient points to discuss. For instance, even if trash talking doesn't occur in the heat of the match, does that make it all right? Is it really that different when you say it at a different time? To me, the intent is still the same, and it's just as inexcusable.

I'm not too sure what you mean, the only trash talking there really is, is stuff like "Stay free <insert country/state/region/player name>" which is pretty much just a joke or some very light ribbing. I don't think there's much malicious intent, sure online a lot of people will spew out insults and what not but offline is a very different environment. If somebody was to get pissed off and start hurling abuse at somebody offline they'd pretty much be named and shamed and become a laughing stock. Maybe you've not been looking at the right places, if you watch streams covered by Team Spooky and LevelUP you'll see this trash talking you speak of doesn't really occur, it's just running jokes.

@namestolen said:

Commentators should be especially careful because they represent the fighting game community when they take a microphone and begin to speak. Maybe I wasn't as careful with some of my wording as I should have been, but the sentiments behind them remain. If negative commentary wasn't occurring within the fighting game community, then the fighting game community wouldn't have the bad reputation that it does, and that reputation alone can be just as harmful to a game experience as someone shouting in your ear while playing.

I've never really heard anything malicious from commentators, I'm really not quite sure what you've been watching!

Posted by namestolen

@Sooty said:

Sure commentators might say stuff, but it's pretty rare that the players can actually hear what they are saying especially as many players wear headsets to drown out noise.

I haven't heard commentators say anything. I was just responding to this statement which seemed to imply that you may have heard them say stuff.

Anyway, I guess it just depends on where you look.

Edited by Brodehouse

The Cross Assault had nothing to do with trash talk.  Bakhtanians was coaching Team Tekken and Super Yan was a Team Tekken fighter.  He wasn't saying sexist crap and whispering things to her and talking about her bra, her thighs and what she does in the bathroom because he was trying to 'rattle' an opponent.  He was doing it to make her feel like a second-class citizen and not worthy of respect because she's a woman.  Whoever thinks that's remotely acceptable needs to be the first in Jeff's sun slingshot.
 
And then more fuckheads get behind a mic and play it up like it's a Goddamn joke.  God.
 
Just imagine if you turned on G4 or Spike and saw Geoff Keighley making lurid comments to a clearly disgusted female cohost.  He'd be on his ass within thirty seconds and that other guy with the stupid soul patch is now the new King of the VGAs.
 
@namestolen:     I've heard some commentators say some shit.  One of them full on mocking Super Yan for being upset at all at being harassed.
 
  

Online
Posted by Sooty

@Brodehouse said:

@namestolen: I've heard some commentators say some shit. One of them full on mocking Super Yan for being upset at all at being harassed.

I"m not sure who those guys are, but anyway that sort of commentary wouldn't happen at Evo or another major. The thing is some of these guys are just friends joking around and sometimes dumb shit gets said, it's silly to blast an entire community for the words of a few individuals. What Aris did/said was incredibly fucking creepy and I don't make excuses for him, that video just making fun is no big deal though.

Posted by Brodehouse

@Sooty said:

@Brodehouse said:

@namestolen: I've heard some commentators say some shit. One of them full on mocking Super Yan for being upset at all at being harassed.

I"m not sure who those guys are, but anyway that sort of commentary wouldn't happen at Evo or another major. The thing is some of these guys are just friends joking around and sometimes dumb shit gets said, it's silly to blast an entire community for the words of a few individuals. What Aris did/said was incredibly fucking creepy and I don't make excuses for him, that video just making fun is no big deal though.

That's Marn and ETR. I barely follow fighting games and even I know Marn. But no one has claimed that 'this is indicative of the entire community', it's whether or not it's tolerated. If the community as a whole doesn't throw out Aris, it means it's accepting that women deserve sexual harassment for playing Street Fighter with men. If the community doesn't throw out those fuckhead commentators, it means it's accepting that it was wrong of Super Yan to feel upset for being harassed.

Seriously watch that video to the end. In it, they're clearly upset with Super Yan for being victimized. They're upset women don't want to be harassed or objectified. They're upset people like Patrick had the audacity to say they can't just be sexist, racist fucks in public without being called on it. Here's a kotaku story regarding the clip in question (plus more where they namedrop Patrick). Don't be surprised if you hear stories of people trying to get Super Yan to quit because she dared draw attention to this shitty boys club. (For their part, they've both written big apologies which kind of resemble something a teenager says when they realize they need to start acting like an adult... or when Jeff get a talking to from a sysop).

I think this is an important time for them, I'm sure Jared has been waiting to draw this line for a while. Is the fighting game community about competition between the most skilled players in the world, or is it about a bunch of scumbag manchildren grunting in front of televisions that happen to have Street Fighter on them?

Online
Edited by Sooty

@Brodehouse said:

@Sooty said:

@Brodehouse said:

@namestolen: I've heard some commentators say some shit. One of them full on mocking Super Yan for being upset at all at being harassed.

I"m not sure who those guys are, but anyway that sort of commentary wouldn't happen at Evo or another major. The thing is some of these guys are just friends joking around and sometimes dumb shit gets said, it's silly to blast an entire community for the words of a few individuals. What Aris did/said was incredibly fucking creepy and I don't make excuses for him, that video just making fun is no big deal though.

it's whether or not it's tolerated. If the community as a whole doesn't throw out Aris, it means it's accepting that women deserve sexual harassment for playing Street Fighter with men. If the community doesn't throw out those fuckhead commentators, it means it's accepting that it was wrong of Super Yan to feel upset for being harassed.

Is the fighting game community about competition between the most skilled players in the world

I don't think people are going to be that willing to throw out their friends, I can see Aris not being on commentary at Evo again now, but keeping him out of the entire event and/or community? Come on, that's a little too far, let's see how things proceed from here first.

All these LevelUp and Spooky streams (the weekly ones) are just local tournaments/leagues where people turn up and play. It's nothing serious and there's bound to be some guy being a dick on the mic every once in a while. (JaHa anybody?) Of course it's about competition, that's what makes this stuff popular and people be hyped for matches. If you are even seriously debating that, then that is a pretty crazy conclusion to come to just from recent events, and really is this anything new? What community doesn't have its fair share of twenty something manchilds talking shit?

I'm gonna leave it here and turn on a mute switch to posts about this drama now because all this FGC stuff is getting annoying, I've heard the 'FGC' too much in one week and it's driving me bananas. I hate that abbreviation damn it.

Posted by MB

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