Two people have accused Mike Zaimont, a lead designer on Skullgirls and Indivisible, of making them uncomfortable with demeaning and sexually suggestive comments. One incident allegedly occurred recently via private messages, while the other accuser claimed they happened in person over the course of years.
Bunny is a popular Twitch personality with over 1.5 million followers across her various social media pages. While she generally focuses on playing more popular games, Bunny recently took an interest in fighting games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Skullgirls. She garnered a ton of attention from the fighting game community, with many praising her willingness to learn as a complete beginner, so last week it came as a surprise when Bunny announced she would be stepping away from the genre.
“A big reason I am taking a break from the fighting game community is sexual harassment I received from a big creator,” Bunny explained on Twitter. “It was out of nowhere and really mortified me. I don’t feel comfortable sharing their identity yet. It really shocked me how intrusive they were.”
This morning, Bunny came forward to shed some light on the situation, saying that her previous tweets were about Mike Zaimont, a veteran fighting game competitor and developer on Skullgirls and Indivisible. She described private messages from Zaimont as “incredibly disrespectful” before eventually sharing an Imgur gallery of screencaps she said depicted her full conversation with Zaimont.
The screenshots appear to show Bunny initiating contact with Zaimont in May to thank him for the Skullgirls story mode’s portrayal of woman-on-woman BDSM. The other party quickly begins asking personal questions about her career on Twitch, specifically what they saw as her embrace of “thirst culture” in terms of the way she speaks and presents herself. What could at first be interpreted as cringey flirting soon transitions into straight up asking Bunny if she gets validation from the attention and what her family thinks of her profession, which Bunny described as “uncomfortable” and “demeaning.”
“His responses are creepy and I really don’t think he would talk to a man this way,” Bunny captioned the screenshot.
As Zaimont had already been widely called out for making a racially insensitive “I can’t breathe” joke during a recent Skullgirls tournament, some saw this as the final straw for someone already on thin ice. Various members of the fighting game community offered support for Bunny, including cosplayer, tournament organizer, and writer Carbon Grey, who shared a video describing what they said were their own uncomfortable encounters with Zaimont.
“I don’t know what Mike said to [Bunny], but I’m sure it was shitty and I know that because Mike’s been making weird, sexual comments at me in and out of cosplay at fighting game events for actual years,” Grey said. “I’ve been writing a lot of it off because when I tell people, they’re just like, ‘Oh, he’s kinda like that, I’m sorry.’ And like, yeah, he is kinda like that and he’s kinda not changing for the past five years y’all. Neither is anyone else in the fighting game community. And I think a lot of it is because when I tell my male friends or other tournament organizers what’s happening, they don’t do anything with that information.”
Kotaku contacted Zaimont and Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games for comment but didn’t receive a reply before publication.
Skullgirls is one of a handful of games being featured at Evo this year thanks to its impeccable implementation of the GGPO rollback netcode, which facilitates a smooth, responsive online fighting experience. Zaimont has long been the face of the game thanks to his work designing its gameplay systems, and often competes in and commentates Skullgirls tournaments. Since the above allegations were made, however, several Skullgirls players have come forward to disavow Zaimont and any involvement they may have had with him in the past.
“His actions don’t speak on behalf of the Skullgirls community as a whole,” prominent fighting game competitor Dominique “SonicFox” McLean said on Twitter. “Nobody likes what he did here. His actions do not reflect the integrity of the Skullgirls community at all and we will be sure consequences are carried out appropriately.”
Update (07/o1/2020, 5:04 p.m. ET): Several major figures in the Skullgirls community have put out a statement calling for Mike Zaimont’s permanent banning from commentary and a two-year ban from competition. Combo Breaker, typically the largest tournament of the year for Skullgirls play, has also said that Zaimont is not welcome at next year’s event.