Well, this sucks.
After a whirlwind of accusations and apologies, the team behind the biggest fighting game community tournament, EVO, has decided to remove Joey Cuellar, AKA Mr. Wizard, as CEO of the company as well as cancel the pending EVO Online tournaments that was scheduled to happen this weekend. What makes this sucks twice as much is that, well, I feel complicit it this as I am part of the fighting game community or the FGC.
It’s not that I’ve actually gone to Las Vegas to participate in the EVO tournament nor would I say I’m a big fan of Smash tournaments. I haven’t even donated a single cent to any of the EVO or anything like that. I just normally sit at home and watch the tournaments via Twitch or other streaming platforms. Heck, I never even paid for a subscription even though I needed to do so to participate in the chat! Yet I still feel this tiny pit in my stomach this moment whenever I think of the stuff that was happening in the underbelly of these tournaments and within the community I am so fond and even proud of being a part of.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me give you the basic gist of both events. Regarding Mr. Wizard, allegations came out that he has been using both money and his position to see underage boys either in their underwear or in the nude. When this was revealed, numerous personalities within the FGC, such as Sonic Fox, Sajam, James Chen, UltraDavid and Yipes, as well as some eSports teams and companies like UYU, Capcom, NetherRealm Studios and Bandai Namco, pulled out of EVO if Mr. Wizards was still part of the company. This indeed lead to Mr. Wizard’s removal as CEO of the company.
Regarding the Smash community, well, it’s kind of the same situation. However, instead of one particular person in the center of it, the controversy surrounds several players who have been accused of performing sexual acts against minors for years. This has led to some lifetime bans hammered on some of the more popular players and their sponsors cutting ties with them. Both events just so happen to be happening at around the same time, leading to a huge snowball of ill will and confusion even within the FGC.
Now, like with all big issues with huge consequences, there are many opinions and viewpoints being tossed around. And this is basically what I’m doing here: I’m delivering my own viewpoint. My position is that, yes, what has been done is a good start. Let’s get rid of the bad apples in the fighting game community. But it’s not just that. Just doing that and calling it a day should not be the end of the story. In fact, that should just be the beginning of the tale.
This is the point when, not only EVO should change, but the fighting game community at large, should evolve as well.
As despicable the actions committed by the people surrounding this controversy, I can’t help but think I fostered this kind of behavior by being part of the FGC culture. There is a certain atmosphere of a “boy’s club” within the fighting game community.
It’s not even a well hidden secret as you can clearly see it in the Twitch or YouTube chat. When a female player gets on stage to play whatever game, there will be at least a few people from the FGC comment on her physical looks in the chat. There will also be people in the chat who will make disparaging comments against a male player who lost to that female player because, well, he lost to a girl! How embarrassing! When a gay or trans player in on, there will be the inevitable bunch from within the FGC who will comment if they will “hit that” or call the player “it” instead of “he” or “she.” I’m not saying that everyone in the FGC behaves in this manner but, even if the majority of us don’t, we do kind of condone this behavior.
It may sound like I’m a saint but, no. I will say that I have behaved negatively in the chat from time to time because, well, it can be fun to behave badly. There’s a level of excitement to doing outside the norms of society, especially when there is no consequences to your actions. It’s not like I’m proud of it but I do have to acknowledge that side of me because it is a part of me and that dark side is in every one of us.
I will say the entire “boy’s club” mentality is a symptom of the problem, though. It is not the cause but it does facilitate the current state the community is in. There have been allegations of sexual misconduct and harrassment as early as last year’s EVO event. I’m betting there are some who are willing to forgive and forget because, hey, it was all in good fun, right? Because that the pervasive attitude, right?
It certainly doesn’t help that these people who are in the center of things are celebrities within the fighting game community. And, as such, do have some stature and status surrounding them for people who live in the FGC. Which is why these people did manage to do the things and get away with it for so long. They had power and influence to do so. And when the person you idolize asks you to do something, you just might do it, especially if you’re really young and naive.
I guess the question is now where do we go from here. Where does the fighting game community go to and what should it do to move past this? I already said that it should evolve but, honestly, I can’t really think how. It would be so easy to say everyone should behave like angels during tournaments and also during your personal life. Obviously, that’s just not going to be realistic.
Maybe the only solution I can think of is that we should be aware of the problem and how it actually may be much more systematic that we think. Of course, we shouldn’t look at all the accusations and believe that they’re automatically true. There will be some people who might just want to see these high profile personalities burn. At the same time, we shouldn’t just believe the people defending themselves from these accusations when they say the allegations as fake. Just because you idolize them, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for the crap they have actually done. I just want people to really weigh both sides because, remember, your snap judgement will affect these people for years to come. I’m not trying to defend the accusers or the people being accused because I’m also afraid how this thing can tear the community apart. I’m just asking to really think about it before trying to crucifying someone.
Even this doesn’t sound like a big step but, in all honesty, I can’t say how things should move forward. Even just grappling with the situation is making my head spin because I have been a part of the fighting game community and seeing things like this does make me sick because, even if I’m not directly responsible, I can’t help but feel complicit.
I do want events like EVO and the Smash and fighting game community to move past this. However, I also do think it’s time things change and evolve. I have no idea what’s going to happen with the FGC in the future but I do hope things evolve to a point when things like this happen again. But the bottom line is, we do have to want to be better to start getting better.
Yes, it sucks to realize how much crap has been happening. But we have to deal with it so it doesn’t have to suck again.
How do you think EVO, the Smash community and the fighting game community should move forward? Let me know in the comments section below!