Fighting Game Community's Leading Voice Calls for Accountability and Respect in Sexual Harassment Fallout

Shoryuken, one of the most respected voices in the fighting game community, has called upon its readers and followers to deal honestly with questions of misogyny and sexual harassment, following sexist match commentary on a controversy that has roiled the fighting game community for a second day.

"If we continue to let the worst elements in the scene speak for us or excuse their bad behavior, we deserve whatever criticism we get," Shoryuken's Inkblot wrote today. "It's everyone's responsibility: the players, the content producers, the tournament organizers, and the fans. We need to be just as serious about the way we treat each other and how we reach out to others online as we are about the game."

The writer was addressing the fallout from a recent episode of "Wednesday Night Fights," which Shoryuken sponsors. Commentators Christian "ETR" Cain and Martin "Marn" Phan both disparaged the coverage of remarks and conduct by competitive gamer Aris Bakhtanians, in which he proclaimed that sexual harassment was a part of the fighting game culture, and took control of a camera at competitive event as if to prove the point, zooming it in on a female competitor's bust and buttocks.

Cain and Phan both apologized for their remarks and show producer Level | Up said neither would be welcomed back to comment in the future.

"A live video stream is the worst possible medium for this kind of hateful talk," Inkblot wrote today. "A few hundred people attended WNF, but over 14,000 tuned in online. Our online presence is the face of the community. It is our recruiting tool."

In a column yesterday, Inkblot allowed that "there is a grain of truth to what Aris is saying, because frankly a lot of players use the scene as a cocoon where they can shed the usual social decencies and behave badly.

However, Inkblot immediately added that, "I do believe that the scene can be an unwelcoming environment for women. Some of this is due to the game's natural, high-strung competitive vibe, but a lot of it is just crass behavior that you would not get away with outside of our male-dominated boy's club."

Today, as the controversy crested a second time with the Wednesday Night Fights commentary, Inkblot called the matter a moral imperative for fighting game enthusiasts.

"We cannot continue to let ignorant, hateful speech slide. The nasty undercurrent in the scene isn't a joke or a meme," Inkblot continued. "It's something we need to fix if we expect to continue to grow, but more importantly it's a moral imperative. I don't want to be a part of a group where it's ok to bully or make fun of others, and I hope you don't either."

This has been an awful day for one of gaming's proudest and longest tenured communities, and we've certainly been vocal in condemning the sexist and exclusionary behavior of some of its most visible members. That said, Shoryuken deserves commendation, as a marshal of the fighting game community, for taking a stand against obnoxious behavior and demanding an end to it.

Back to Basics, Getting Beyond the Drama [Shoryuken]

Hurtful Speech: Time to Take a Good Look in the Mirror [Shoryuken]