Yesterday's Kotaku article about the arrest of a fighting game competitor for allegedly striking his ex-girlfriend after-hours at the CEO gaming tournament has provoked heated response, much of it from members of the fighting game community who feel their scene is treated unfairly by this site.
Sadly, we've been here before, after covering a prominent incident of verbal sexual harassment by a fighting game coach early last year. We were accused of parachuting in, of only arriving to cover scandal. Meanwhile, many in the fighting game community mixed criticism of our site with self-reflection about the scene's problems with how it engages with and deals with sexism.
Fighting gamers complained that we didn't give them a fair shake, that we ignored the positives of a beautifully ethnically-diverse scene of gamers that has often acted with charity to its own. They complained that we didn't get them, didn't know their games, didn't care other than when there was an opportunity to make them look bad.
Wrong, we said, and asked—admittedly with some of the clunk of something that was going to seem like damage control—for help in talking about the positives of the fighting game community.
The cycle is now repeating itself: we published news; we're criticized for running it while members of the fighting game community simultaneously attack Kotaku while lamenting their own circling of the wagons on this matter...and here we are with this piece.
The cycle doesn't have to repeat. We at Kotaku don't want it to.
So let's take a step back.
Let's take a step back from some of the disturbing criticism that our story = white people targeting the non-white fighting game scene—as if we didn't cover gaming crimes allegedly committed by people of all types, didn't cover scandal in non-fighting eSports and didn't regularly cover diversity issues and weren't in fact a team comprised of a diverse set of writers and reporters. Let's take a step back from the erroneous assumption that we only parachute in to write about scandal, when we've covered some of the fighting game community's kindest actions again and again and again and again.
The fact is that we at Kotaku cover what we know, which is a combination of what our reporters have expertise in, what our reporters uncover and what tipsters tell us about. This is why we regularly write about new fighting games like Divekick, which we know how to cover at events like PAX, or why we cover some of the interesting design wrinkles in fighting games thanks to the fact that the wonderful Seth Killian exists to explain them to us.
There are always going to be more stories to cover than even we can get to, and so we will always be somewhat reliant on the tips of our own readers to signal stories we may have missed. This is standard in any type of reporting.
There is a meme in the fighting game community when something unseemly is said or when there's scandal or faux-scandal that someone should "call Kotaku." The truth is that members of the FGC seldom do. Over the weekend, someone did. As a result, we reported the story and did so with the balance we think our readers deserve, complete with coverage of the police report, attempts for comment from relevant parties and context of the overall fighting game scene, pro and con, to make it clear that one incident shouldn't represent an entire scene.
This is what someone "called" Kotaku about.
No one calls Kotaku about thrilling fighting game matches. No one calls Kotaku about the upsets and the streaks, the comebacks and the records, the highs and lows, the big wins and spectacular losses. Perhaps it's because we've never asked you to. So, I'm asking... if you see an amazing match, something you think more people who love video games need to see... please tell us. We're going to continue to report and do our best to spot the good stuff, but insightful sources always help.
Fighting game fans, we do want to cover your eSport as a sport. We do want to, but we admittedly struggle to identify the best matches, and so we surely miss some of the scene's most exciting moments. [UPDATE: I've been informed that lots of FGC people don't like to be lumped in with eSports. Cool. I'd still love to cover more of the sport aspect!]
Yesterday, a couple of people remarked that members of the fighting game community had once again rallied to help another gamer in need—in this case pooling money together to help a fellow gamer keep their home. This is a wonderful thing. It's also the type of story we've covered regularly.
But let's focus on what Kotaku is not sufficiently covering, which I believe is both what I want more of and what more fighting game fans would like to see: the action... the games.
Here's something: reader flagged me to a match from CEO that had a surprising ending. The match took place in a cage. The winner gets so excited that he rips off part of the cage. Not the most amazing scene—could've been shot better—but not bad...
Here's a close match from Sunday at CEO that just got posted to YouTube in the last 24 hours, well after we ran highlights of some top matches from last weekend's other tournament, Major League Gaming's Spring Championships. We've got renowned fighting game expert Justin Wong against the current dominant fighting gamer Chris G.
And here's Chris G again in the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 finals from CEO, also just uploaded to YouTube in the last 24 hours.
Want to see more stuff like that?
I sense that Kotaku readers want to see more of the great moments in eSports, so we're going to try to show you more of them.
Going forward, I'd rather give clips like the ones in this post their own place on Kotaku, separate from addressing any reaction to our coverage of a crime story. That wasn't an option this time, as it's never an option to avoid elephants in the room.
Last year, we embedded the streams for EVO, the granddaddy of all fighting game tournaments. We expect to again later this month. We've been embedding the streams for other eSports events and will improve our consistency of that.
We're going to do our best to watch the matches more closely, but, again, this is where we will benefit from those who decide to call Kotaku not because they're outraged or because they assume we only care about the bad stuff but who understand that we want to know about the things fighting game fans are the most excited about. Tell us about those and there's a good chance we'll tell more of the world about them through our site.
(Up top: CEO 2013's Street Fighter IV grand final between Momochi and Xian.)