Smash Scene Shaken By Rise and Fall of False Idol

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StarvingGamer

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Edited By StarvingGamer

Okay, the title might be a little over-the-top but this is a pretty weird/interesting story.

Earlier today (yesterday? Ugh why am I up so late/early?) a GameStop in West Hollywood held a promotional event, giving players a chance to get some hands-on time with Smash for Wii U before its release on November 21. Many players from the SoCal Smash scene were in attendance, alongside D'Ron "D1" Maingrette who was acting as host. Even if you don't recognize his handle, you may have seen him commentating this year's Smash Invitational during E3. Being one of the pillars of the Smash community, everyone's ears perked up when he put out the following tweet:

A complete unknown, the young girl earned herself the moniker Karissa the Destroyer for the dominating manner in which she dismantled a majority of her opponents. One of the attendees managed to capture a fair amount of her rampage on his phone, and another caught her beating D1 with a convincing 2-stock victory (exhausting both of her opponent's lives without losing any of her own).

So I guess the title of that video is a bit of a spoiler. You see, while some players, like Keith "Southpaw" Gordon, took their loss in stride, others, like Sky Williams, started getting an inkling that something was amiss. Key tells included Karissa showboating by performing difficult combos without looking at the screen and a third controller plugged into the Wii U with a wire that mysteriously disappeared behind the stage. Sky's full account of his experience is definitely worth a read, but it culminated in him witnessing a top Smash player, who had not been seen by anyone during the course of the event, hastily sneaking away from the GameStop after the event had ended.

The fact that Karissa is actually an actor represented by Talent Branded Entertainment was only a Google search away. Then someone dug up this megaton:

No Caption Provided

It's a casting call for people with some experience in Smash to act as ringers and lose to "[the casting company's] girl". The twitterverse reacted in its usual fashion. Many people merely brushed it off as nothing more than a cute joke. Some took exception to the idea that someone had put one over on them and responded in the traditional fashion with insults and, apparently, death threats accusing anyone in attendance of being in on it. And while the actual wording of the casting call seems to indicate that the plan has always been to reveal the truth in a future marketing push, others, like designer, ex-Smasher, and advocate for women in competitive gaming Lil "Milktea" Chen were more concerned about the impact such a stunt could have on young female gamers looking for inspiration, and the social implications of the fact that any such repercussions likely never even crossed the minds of the professionals behind this marketing campaign.

It's hard to think of a worse time for a marketing campaign centered around a fake gamer girl being backed by a male player. But whether this crops up later as a TV ad or a web promo or simply another thing for people to not pay attention to while they're shopping at GameStop, at least now you'll have some idea of where it came from.

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Brendan

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Interesting story, thanks for telling it. I think people are taking this too seriously. This has more to do with a really young kid beating experienced players than a girl beating boys (the death threaters notwithstanding, they take everything too seriously). It would have been funny to be there :P

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Jeust

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#2  Edited By Jeust

Interesting. Recently I saw the movie Amelia, the movie about Amelia Earhart, where her first achievement, at least in the movie, was also meant to be a deceitful publicity stunt.

This makes me think that this is not anything new, still it is pretty sad. And everytime I hear something like this makes me more wary of what is true. Or just fake.

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KaneRobot

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#3  Edited By KaneRobot

@starvinggamer said:

It's hard to think of a worse time for a marketing campaign centered around a fake gamer girl being backed by a male player.

I dunno, I get what you're saying but come on, the kid is 10. If they had stuck some 18 year old girl out there and tried to pass it off as legit before revealing IT WAS A GUY ALL ALONG, you'd probably see a lot more outcry about how girls are being portrayed as weak or whatever other bullshit would come along with it. You're always going to get tasteless comments and death threats since it's the internet, but I'd say this kid is young enough for people to disregard it as a dumb stunt in pretty short order.

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Hunkulese

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There goes the Internet trying to ruin everything again. There are zero social implications in this unless you try and force them in there.

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FLStyle

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#5  Edited By FLStyle

Good read!

I had heard of this girl on Twitter during the weekend, I thought we had another Noah Solis on our hands.

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StarvingGamer

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@kanerobot: The problem is the FGC is the most notoriously difficult competitive gaming scene for women to get involved in. We're absolutely starved for female role-models. If Karissa was legit, she could have had an evolutionary impact on the community. Finding out that it was all a hoax is an incredible letdown for many people, including myself. I have a daughter, and I'd consider myself lucky if she were to one day share some of the passion I have for fighting games. But by the same token, I would be hesitant to have her attend a tournament in-person right now because I know the sort of environment I'd be exposing her to.

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TrafalgarLaw

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I've seen people get banned on neogaf for initially doubting her and get called misogynists, only to turn out it was actually a hoax. I guess you should blame gamestop.

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damodar

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#8  Edited By damodar

CLEARLY EVERYONE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THIS NEEDS TO DIE!

I'm with you, @starvinggamer. For as furious as some people seem to be about the little deception, more than anything, it's just a bit of a shame that it's not true. One of the things that's great about following the FGC are those occasions when some unknown comes out of the woodwork and makes a big splash and surprises everyone. A great, recent example of this is El Fuerte player, Pepeday. And sometimes a similar thing can happen where the player is surprising because they display a very mature understanding of some core concepts and fundamentals, despite being very young. Noah is a great example. As you say, this case in particular would have been very cool if the scene had not only a very, very young player come in and shake things up, but a female at that and a possible role model for other young girls, or hell, even anybody, to show that the community isn't restricted to any age, gender, race or anything like that. Not that I want to sound like I'm getting ahead of myself and hailing her as a lost great white hope of fighting games, but it definitely would have been cool and could have had a really positive effect.

That being said, yeah, it's not terribly surprising that it's fake. Being that young but having such a firm grasp on execution, spacing, all the reading and the mind games and all of that jazz, you'd have to suspect that her parents lock her in the basement to practice 15 hours a day like some sort of 17th century musical child prodigy.

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HeyGuys

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Marketers suck, that is all.

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oldenglishc

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The internet sure does enjoy getting angry at stupid shit. Especially when it's related to video games.

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Hailinel

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Disappointing, but not surprising.

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deactivated-5c1eff447c9e5

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A really sad part for me, as someone who cares about the Smash scene and has a lot of respect for some of the commentators who can make any tournament a fun time, is that D'Ron played a big role in this event, and it's causing a lot of fighting within the community. Him and Prog are such important figures in the community, and they're two of the biggest reasons why the Smash community has grown to what is today. This stunt made Prog pretty upset, and this is really the last thing he needs on his mind now that Project M isn't on the schedule for the list of games at Apex (the main tournament for Smash for a long time since Evo wasn't always there for them), causing some fans of the mod to send death threats to the staff of the tournament. Along with that, the Melee scene is pretty upset with Smash 4 and the possibility that Melee won't be at Evo in favor of Smash 4. I can't imagine being one of the biggest faces of the scene that has long been seen as a joke by the fighting game community and is now actively tearing itself apart.

That being said, in the interest of fairness, apparently D'Ron was simply going there to commentate, and the tweet in the OP was made before he got there. Furthermore, the video where he actually played was a leaked thing, and not meant to be put online. For someone who has put so much work into the scene, I'm willing to believe him, but that doesn't mean I can really accept the fact that stunts like this have repercussions, and the last thing that a boys' club like the fighting game community needs is a "fake gamer girl" to feed into the already misogynistic attitudes many people have in regards to women in gaming. I doubt there was any malicious intent behind this, but the repercussions are real.

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FattyLobotnik

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Just to clarify on death threats: One person in attendance mentioned recieving a death threat, and it was not directed at the little girl.

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#14  Edited By BisonHero

Maybe I missed it, but I'm still unclear on who put up the casting call. Also who was in on it? The casting call talks about 6 Smash players who are plants, but then you talk about Keith Gordon and Sky Williams losing for real and either taking it in stride or thinking it was suspicious. Was D1 involved?

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I_Stay_Puft

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#15  Edited By I_Stay_Puft

Really? Death threats? Man some people need to take a joke in stride and move on. After reading this I initially thought it was pretty cool that a 10 year old was kicking veterans in the butt in this game similar to that 7 year old a few years ago during EVO who held down on MvC 3. After finding out it was fake I thought that was pretty funny.

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FattyLobotnik

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@bisonhero: Nintendo/Gamestop.

There was a man(presumably) behind the curtain playing for her. Indeed not everyone there was in on the joke, so the secret player must have been a pro player. That narrows it down if you really want to find this person (go down the list of highest ranked players, ask "who was not seen at another tournament that day"), and hey maybe that could deflect the focus away from "fake spoiled sellout demon girl who can't play games stages COLLUSION".

All this uproar is dumb though, I thought it was a harmless prank and a cool way to hype the game. It's a shame it was called out, because it would have inspired new demographics to get into tournaments. We could use some diversity.

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rapid

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Super Smash Bros... More like Super Smash Wrestling!

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Legion_

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This is the kind of the thing that makes me wonder why people want their video game journalism to serious. I mean, come on. How can anyone be serious about this stuff?

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HeyGuys

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@legion_: I would assume the people who's job it is to cover games take them seriously otherwise they'd be wasting their lives which would be pretty sad. Not really relevant to this discussion though.

Like I said earlier marketers deceiving people erodes our trust in each socially and that's really lame but not unique to this situation or industry.

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Legion_

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@heyguys said:

@legion_: I would assume the people who's job it is to cover games take them seriously otherwise they'd be wasting their lives which would be pretty sad. Not really relevant to this discussion though.

Don't most people?

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bargainben

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I know you guys think this is important but try and restrain yourselves from harassing this little girl in the name of "journalistic integrity" or whatever. thnx

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HeyGuys

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bargainben

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#23  Edited By bargainben

@heyguys said:

@bargainben: What are you even talking about?

A lot of you used #gamergate as an excuse to harass women, and its always a little creepy when I see people digging this deep to "expose" a 10 year old girl for what is clearly a harmless marketing tactic. Just asking for a little restraint is all.

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HeyGuys

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@heyguys said:

@bargainben: What are you even talking about?

A lot of you used #gamergate as an excuse to harass women, and its always a little creepy when I see people digging this deep to "expose" a 10 year old girl for what is clearly a harmless marketing tactic. Just asking for a little restraint is all.

Who?

It seems more like a ham handed attempt to make this about something it's not, after all the only person to bring "gamergate" into this is you. I'll agree with you on restraint but I'm not in the know enough to know whether people are showing it or not.

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WickedCestus

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E-sports communities are so prone to drama, so this thing'll explode and then probably die in a few days. Pretty much everything that happens relating to an e-sport is cause for massive amounts of anger for some reason (I know from being in the SC2 community for a long time). That said, I can understand the reasons for being upset with this, even if I don't understand the extent of some people's anger. Dumb move by Nintendo/Gamestop. Marketing ideas often suck.

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GaspoweR

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@flstyle said:

Good read!

I had heard of this girl on Twitter during the weekend, I thought we had another Noah Solis on our hands.

Yeah, D1 was pretty much saying this morning that people are taking this waaaaaaaaaaay too seriously and are being jerks about it.

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StarvingGamer

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Maybe I missed it, but I'm still unclear on who put up the casting call. Also who was in on it? The casting call talks about 6 Smash players who are plants, but then you talk about Keith Gordon and Sky Williams losing for real and either taking it in stride or thinking it was suspicious. Was D1 involved?

Well the casting call went through LA Casting. Presumably it was either straight up GameStop marketing or a co-marketing deal with Nintendo. It's highly unlikely the players who were there as ringers were known names as the crossover between competitive Smash players and commercial actors with agents is likely nonexistent. According to D1 he did not know anything about the prank until he arrived at the store. He just thought it was a regular hosting gig.

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crithon

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When I saw the video..... I was surprised how the adult players didn't say anything offensive.... Like just a simple little phrase like "You got raped." I chalked up to being polite to a child, but I never experienced that in my over 20 years of playing fighting games at tournaments. But also, I think people wanted to believe this is real because there's something just we can all relate with of a child taking back a game from adults.

great write up, actually I read the word fake on the video and was wondering what it meant. Thanks man.

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matatat

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If only it had said "Wardrobe: Formal".

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MannyMAR

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While I don't take offense to the weird ass wheelings and dealings of GameStop, it does make me wish she was a legit pro in the making.

Taking the tired idea of being beaten by a "10 year old girl" is too damned clichéd even by marketing standards. I don't know about y'all, but how awesome would it have been if this was legit? That would've been on some Gundam Newtype shit.

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GaspoweR

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@bisonhero said:

Maybe I missed it, but I'm still unclear on who put up the casting call. Also who was in on it? The casting call talks about 6 Smash players who are plants, but then you talk about Keith Gordon and Sky Williams losing for real and either taking it in stride or thinking it was suspicious. Was D1 involved?

Well the casting call went through LA Casting. Presumably it was either straight up GameStop marketing or a co-marketing deal with Nintendo. It's highly unlikely the players who were there as ringers were known names as the crossover between competitive Smash players and commercial actors with agents is likely nonexistent. According to D1 he did not know anything about the prank until he arrived at the store. He just thought it was a regular hosting gig.

Yep, he didn't even realize it was a marketing stunt in the form of a prank and thought it was a hosting/commentary job for an advanced preview for Smash 4. Some people when they found out that it was a prank on Twitter/elsewhere were being complete jerks about it too and were making it much bigger than it ought to be by being abrasive about it.

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SpunkyHePanda

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As awesome as it would be if she were for real, I would worry for her in the long term. I've seen enough shit to where I feel like if she started showing up in tournaments and stuff, monsters from the dark depths of the internet would pop up to harass the poor kid. That is, if it's not happening already. Run, Karissa!

Maybe in ten years, the community will be ready for a Karissa and there will be no incidents and we can all feel good about it. I can dream!

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ThunderSlash

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Thanks Gamestop!

While I think that this is a pretty stupid move for whoever came up this idea, the thought of some guy doing the Wizard of Oz thing is pretty funny.

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joshwent

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Weird.

I just can't figure out what the point of this was. Was it going to eventually be promoting something, somehow? I guess I just read a story about GameSpot, so they're in my head now, but it just makes them seem that much more shady.

weird.

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FattyLobotnik

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#35  Edited By FattyLobotnik

@joshwent: The point was not to reveal it was fake. Seeing a 10 year old win would have inspired a bunch of other kids to play. Viral marketing.

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csl316

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#36  Edited By csl316  Online

I think Karissa the Destroyer is a hilarious name.

I noticed some screenshots after the fact and I assumed the internet was making this weird, so I'll just continue to chuckle at people in the scene getting dominated.

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StarvingGamer

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@joshwent: I believe they were secretly capturing footage that is going to be used in a promotion some time soon.

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JJOR64

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People are blowing this way out of preportion. Same thing happened with Mike Ross during Cross Assault and he is still fine. The Internet needs to learn to take a chill pill some times.

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soldierg654342

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#39  Edited By soldierg654342

This is a huge bummer, especially when there are younger kids out there already making legit waves like SonicFox and Noah.

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@fattylobotnik: That makes no sense whatsoever. It's called a joke. It's funny. That's all it was.

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#41  Edited By bacongames

Unfortunately all the cloak and dagger setup and internet apocrypha doomed to this from the start. There's a lot of ways to take something like this as many have pointed out so without a deft touch, which I wouldn't necessarily expect from someone handling a regional GameStop Smash event, it fell flat and now people are upset. Personally I couldn't imagine this being sustainable in the slightest as presented because the FGC is a community where the top players in a respective scene know each other and is largely built around the idea that it doesn't matter what you look like or where you're from, how well you do is all that matters. Furthermore someone like this coming out of the woodwork is not only welcome but has precedent and so setting this up as a stunt just comes off in bad taste.

It's worth noting the casting was for any race or gender so the pitch was predicated more on the kid taking on all the grown ups more than it being a little girl. However I'll echo the sentiment that it's disappointing to see this be anything other than authentic.

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StarvingGamer

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@fattylobotnik: Based on the wording of the casting call and statements from D1, it seems like the opposite is true. They originally intended to reveal that she was a fake in video form as a continuation of this marketing stunt. I imagine that despite the backlash, nothing has changed and we'll be seeing something out of GameStop/Nintendo before the game comes out.

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