Let me preface this by saying that I am not a journalist or a professional writer. In fact, I often have trouble articulating my own thoughts and opinions because of an anxiety disorder. Despite what I know is an illogical thought, I do care a lot about what others think of me and what I have to say. This often censors what actually comes out of my mouth, and I’ll touch on this later and how it relates to the topic of this post.
In the past week I’ve been watching Cross Assault – the Internet reality show produced by Capcom to showcase their upcoming game. The basis of the show is pitting two teams against each other in Street Fighter x Tekken to win $25,000. For those not familiar with the show or the controversy that has been surrounding it, there have been allegations of sexual harassment to one of the cast members. Contestant Super__Yan (Miranda Pakozdi) has been at the focus of the controversy, and has voiced concern over being the target of harassment by her team coach Aris Bakhtanians.
I don’t know either of the parties involved and I certainly am not at the Capcom headquarters where this has all been filmed. All the information I’ve seen and my opinions are based off of what I have seen from the live stream, the Twitter accounts of those involved, and the fighting game community’s reaction at large on the Internet.
Regardless, the discussion and case-to-be-made here is only brought forward by the events that have unfolded, not made by them.
From what I have seen from some of the stream and the stream archives, Bakhtanians had been making lewd comments about and towards Pakozdi during filming.
As a female in the fighting game community, I have experienced my share of harassment of both the sexual and non-sexual kind. I’ve been physically touched (on the neck and arms) when it was not wanted and without being asked, been accused of attention ‘whoring’ (which seems to be a popular attack when women are involved), been told to “stop playing video games and get back to the kitchen,” and I’ve read chat logs of people who make comments about my body.
Due to my social anxiety and my discomfort over dealing with any kind of conflict, I have often just “laughed it off” which is what Pakozdi said she was doing in one tweet to me. By taking a more active stance, I can hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.
For those of you reading this and saying to yourselves, “Well what if it was just a joke?” There have been times when it has been just that – but only between friends. A lot of people have been arguing that Bakhtanians “was only joking” when he made the allegedly sexist comments towards Pakozdi. Even if this was the case for him, the fact that she was not okay with it is the problem - and should have made him reevaluate what he was saying and apologize for saying it in front of an audience.
I know a lot of heat has been poured on the journalists at Destructoid, Giant Bomb, Kotaku, and Penny Arcade for their coverage of the events. Much of the FGC feels like the writers are painting our community in a poor light based on the actions of one person. In fact, after reading the Destructoid and Giant Bomb articles myself, I tweeted “I don’t think it is fair for sites like Destructoid and Giant Bomb to paint the FGC as a bunch of jerks. Most of the people I know are lovely.” While this is true, it doesn’t excuse the fact that even some of the community still has a misogynistic mindset. Does what I said mean the rest of the community’s behavior can be excused? No, I don’t think it does.
I, among many others, also argued on Twitter that the articles seemed to be targeting just the FGC when this type of behavior is prevalent in all genres of gaming communities (and all facets of life). We need to keep in sight that the FGC was directly in the news media’s crosshairs because the controversy was directly related to the FGC. I do admit that it was poor of me to deflect the blame onto other groups when the FGC really should take a good hard look at itself to think about the values we want to uphold.
But like I said, the case to be made here has little do with my personal experiences or Pakozdi’s.
According to what Bakhtanians said during his chat with Jared Rea during the show, “The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community.” The perception I get from reading his statements makes me feel like Bakhtanians is trying to rationalize and validate his words as being an inherent aspect of the community. It’s insane to even think that the fighting game community is so deeply rooted in sexism and discrimination that without it, well, it simply isn’t the fighting game community anymore – let alone actually believe it.
I find this statement extremely disturbing because sexual harassment should not be a part of any culture, ever. The basic idea that the fighting game community is a hostile place is fine, and for better or worse, realistic. Bakhtanians is allowed to be the hater he wants to be when someone new walks into his local romp. If that’s his and the community as a whole’s prerogative – that’s fine. The problems only arise when your discrimination is based on something that can’t be helped. You eventually stop calling the newcomer a scrub when they win their first tournament but crude comments about something as intrinsic as a woman’s body will always be simply a way of keeping someone marginalized.
There has been enough lambasting of the video game community as an immature scene that needs to grow up already, and there isn’t much to gain from reiterating on it. The scene bridges between being the most casual to running wildly tense, and beyond that, video games have always been seen as a form of escapism. But nowhere in there is there an excuse to resort to things that degrade others based on race, colour, sex or sexuality. These are basic principals of equality – and they need to be upheld by all. We’re not a sexist group of people, and we should all stand up for each other in this respect.
The news articles that are surfacing and what has been seen on Cross Assault are shedding light on an issue that has always been a problem in the fighting game community. To break the cycle, not only do women in the community have to begin standing up for themselves (such as myself), but the men who share these values need to too. I know that after this week and the many conversations I’ve seen and participated in, I want to be more of an ally and not a by-stander. Hindsight is 20/20 and right now I’m taking a hard look at the decisions I’ve made, the things I’ve said, and what I can do to make this community a safer and less discriminate place for everyone.
[This is a heartbreaking story about what happens when abortion is restricted and stigmatized. Legality is meaningless unless pregnant people can actually access safe, legal abortions. There’s nothing pro-life about giving pregnant people no options. Essay by Dr. Jen Gunter. From her bio: I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada and graduated from The University of Manitoba School of Medicine in 1990 at the age of 23 (I started young). In 1995 I completed my OB/GYN training at the University of Western Ontario and moved to the United States to complete a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Kansas. After completing my fellowship I continued my studies in pain medicine. I am board certified in OB/GYN in both Canada and the United States. I am also board certified in pain medicine by the American Board of Pain Medicine and by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. That’s why I have so many letters after my name.]
I was in clinic when I heard the overhead STAT page to the emergency room.
As I sprinted down the stairs, I ran through the possible scenarios. I wasn’t on call, so the day to day gynecologic emergencies weren’t my purview. I hadn’t operated on anyone in the past few weeks, so unlikely to be one of my own patients with a complication.
Logically there was only one conclusion.
A nurse was holding the staff entrance to the ER open. From the look on her face I surmised this was to save the minute or two it would take to punch in the numbers on the lock and inquire at the desk for patient’s whereabouts.
“Down there,” she pointed.
On the gurney lay a young woman the color of white marble. The red pool between her legs, ominously free of clots, offered a silent explanation.
“She arrived a few minutes ago. Not even a note.” My resident was breathless with anger, adrenaline, and panic.
I had an idea who she went to. The same one the others did. The same one many more would visit. A doctor, but considering what I had seen he could’t have any formal gynecology training. The only thing he offered that the well-trained provers didn’t was a cut-rate price. If you don’t know to ask, well, a doctor is a doctor. That’s assuming you are empowered enough to have such a discussion. I was also pretty sure his office didn’t offer interpreters.
I needed equipment not available in an emergency room. I looked at the emergency room attending. “Call the OR and tell them we need a room. Now.” And then I turned to my resident. I was going to tell him to physically make sure a room, any room, was ready when we arrived, but he had already sprinted towards the stairs. He knew.
We didn’t wait for an orderly. A terrified medical student and I raced down the hallway with the gurney. The amorphous red pool dripped onto the floor as we rounded the corner to the elevators.
The double doors that led to the operating rooms swung open. “The urology room. They’re between cases,” my resident shouted.
I saw an anesthesiologist out of the corner of my eye. “You. Now!” Most emergencies can wait a few minutes to check in at the front desk and for the anesthesiologist and nursing staff to take stock of the situation. This was not one of them.
The urologist, whose room I appropriated, blustered and sputtered in behind me. “What the fuck are you doing barging in, I’ve got another case…” but as we moved my patient over to the operating table and he saw the blood, he stopped. He grabbed a tray of instruments and opened. “I’ll be your scrub.”
The anesthesiologist was pissed. Not really mad, more riled up than anything. No one likes to be blind sided, no matter how well intentioned. And he probably thought I was over reacting. That is until he put in another intravenous.
“Fuck.” What looked like blood tinged water flashed back.
And now they all understood what I knew the second I laid eyes on this patient. Abortions that go horribly wrong bleed out. Quickly.
The room filled with surgeons, nurses, and students eager to help. To do something. Anything.
I opened the vagina and by feel clamped through the holes on either side of the uterus where I knew from experience I would find the uterine arteries, the likely site of the puncture. I didn’t know which side, and at that point it didn’t matter. I just needed to stop the blood flow. It took less than a minute. She would have bled to death if I had opened her belly.
As the bleeding had stopped, it was up to the anesthesiologist to fix the hematologic tempest. A vascular system so traumatized by sheer blood loss that it had run haywire and lost the ability to clot. Disseminated intravascular coagulation. This is how many young women die when an abortion goes wrong.
My hands started to shake. Everything from leaving my clinic to this point had been one crescendoing adrenaline-fueled reflex. Now that there was nothing physically for me to do the energy had to go somewhere.
I looked around. A forest of IV poles, laden with blood instead of fruit. Everyone not directly helping was running back and forth to the pharmacy or blood bank. A nurse and another surgeon started to clean the floor. We were all bonded by this nameless woman whose life we were desperately trying to save. And we were bearing witness, because we knew if she died it was unlikely anyone would read about her in the paper. It was unlikely her family would protest. A myriad of potential reasons. Shame of the abortion. Distrust of government. Fear of immigration officials.
The urologist, a grizzled older man with whom I had nothing in common except a medical degree and this patient, rested his hand on my shoulder. It was a kind, fatherly gesture. The weight was comforting.
“You done good.” He said. And then he added, “Those bastards.”
I knew he was referring not just to the physician who did this procedure, but to everyone in society who had contributed to a disadvantaged woman finding herself in such a desperate situation.
This is why I don’t even want abortion to be a debate in our country. Leave it to the women and the doctors to make the medical decisions, and leave religion, philosophy, etc, all personal morals out of it.
This is really, really powerful. I can’t imagine being anyone in that room - and this really needs to spread. This is what happens when abortions are illegal. All the studies I’ve ever read say that making abortions illegal does literally almost nothing to the abortion rate. They just do it illegally.
Scott and I were looking on the Ikea website earlier and trying to pick out items we might want for the new apartment. While browsing through the catalog and trying to decide what we liked/fit into our budget, it felt like we were playing the Sims.
I just have to remember not to place all the wooden chairs in front of the fireplace.
I sit silently in a lovely café at the corner of Church and Wellesley as I wait for my friend Mark to arrive. The café is tranquil and quiet while smooth jazz music plays softly in the background. The sound of the door jangles me out of my peaceful stupor as an elderly woman enters…
I wish I could say I was surprised, but sadly I’m not.
Jennifer Hepler is hated by people on the Internet, as Destructoid reader Ben recently informed us. That’s not unusual in itself, as there are few public figures who aren’t hated by a significant cross-section of the online population. However, when you consider what Hepler did — or didn’t do — it certainly is a puzzle as to why she’s despised with such pure, unfettered venom. She wrote for Dragon Age and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Hepler is a BioWare writer and woke up one day to discover the entire Internet hated her. A number of online communities recently started dogpiling on the lady, accusing her of “ruining” BioWare games with her writing. She’s also received a lot of heat for admitting that she doesn’t like to play games — certainly a requirement if your job is to craft narrative (sarcasm).
By far her greatest “crime” was suggesting that games should let the player skip combat, stating: “Games almost always include a way to “button through” dialogue without paying attention, because they understand that some players don’t enjoy listening to dialogue and they don’t want to stop their fun. Yet they persist in practically coming into your living room and forcing you to play through the combats even if you’re a player who only enjoys the dialogue.”
Whether you agree or disagree, it’s not like she cut a toddler’s achilles tendons with a rusty scalpel. Still, however, this is the Internet.
I’m getting really tired of the “this is the internet” excuse that gets thrown up so often in these things. It is on par with “boys will be boys,” it does nothing to address the problem and gives people almost a free pass to be horrible. We will never be able to improve the internet culture so long as people are willing to excuse this sort of thing.
Everything came to a head a few days ago. Hepler decided to join Twitter, but within fourteen Tweets she has already asked support if she can delete her account. It seems that gamers caught a whiff of her Twitter presence, and everything went to shit.
Hundreds of messages have been sent to Hepler, as a simple Twitter search shows. Many choose to attack her writing and ability to craft characters. A staggering number focus on her physical appearance, choosing to call her such delightful names as “fat bitch” and “obese cunt.” Some want to know why she’s “obsessed with shoehorning homosexual relationships down gamer’s throats.”
Poor Hepler did not exactly help her case, publicly stating: “I just figure they’re jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can’t get either.” Unfortunately, that opened the doors for even more spiteful commentary, because everybody knows you can’t defend yourself on the Internet — especially if you mention that you have a vagina.
It seems like lately there is a certain subset of gamers, the douchebro/MRA/neckbeards/manchild set, who have their noses so out of joint because Bioware apologetically includes same sex character options in their games. They just can’t accept that they are options, if they don’t like them they don’t have to take them. However their mere existence seems to threaten their “manhood,” or rather their concept of it. They approach it all as if their preferences, and only their preferences, should dictate what a game is, or isn’t; woe unto anyone who is different from them saying what they’d like to see in a game because that will unleash the landslide of butthurt and privilege.
As I see it, they just need to fucking grow up already.
Everything seemed to come to a head with studio GM Aaryn Flynn getting involved. After one user called Hepler “the cancer that is killing BioWare,” Flynn retorted by calling him a “fucking moron.” So now BioWare is accused of treating customers disrespectfully, and the moron in question is going on a crusade and talking about his hurt feelings. Nevermind that he started the insulting tone of the conversation.
Because that’s what gamers do, if this behavior is to be believed. Attack individuals en masse, forgetting they are people, and then acting betrayed when their victims have the nerve to bite back. It’s all very well expecting “professional conduct” from a developer when a customer is angry, but when anybody’s being demolished by a rampant tsunami of abuse, I don’t think there’s any amount of professional expectation that makes it unacceptable to lose one’s cool and say something in return.
The calling card of the bully and the bigot; they hurl vitriol, hate and threats, and the moment that their target stands up, or someone stands up to defend their target, and calls them on it, or, heavens forbid, insult them in return suddenly they are the poor persecuted victim.
It is the height of entitlement to believe you can say whatever you want, as hurtful as you like, and expect not a word of a retort. Those gamers now acting butthurt because Flynn and Hepler responded to the abuse are as cretinous and pathetic as one can get. The fact that this surrounds BioWare — a studio known for making more adult games — makes it all the more sad.
Whether you like Hepler or not (I’ve not been a fan of most of BioWare’s stories, period), this level of treatment towards a single person is never warranted, and it should make the gaming community utterly ashamed of itself. This is the kind of behavior that justifies the FOX News stereotype of the basement dwelling, antisocial nerd. This is the kind of behavior that makes the Spike VGAs look like the perfect gamer show — because it’s crass, immature, and it sports the emotional depth of a wet paper towel. That’s how gamers look when something like this happens.
That’s one of the things that I’ve always liked about Bioware’s games, they are more adult. They at least try to deal with issues in interesting ways, and while their morality systems do still tend towards stark black or white choices over the years more and more grey has worked its way in, with even the “good” choices having unexpected consequences. I am glad to see that so often Bioware stands up to these entitled asshats, and I hope that the people who like what Bioware does and the options that they give their players will stand up and let their voices be heard in support of them as well. Because only together can we end the free reign the bigots and bullies have had for far too long and change internet culture for the better.
- Having sex every day. - Saving sex for your wedding night. - Never having sex. - Having sex with different people. - Having sex with one person. - Having sex with a person of your same gender. - Loving sex. - Hating sex. - Being loud. - Being quiet.
“The outrage is tiresome and deeply hypocritical, in all the tiresome ways you’ve been tired out by before. M.I.A. was illustrating her line, acting out the attitude of the words: performing. Fine, it may not be legal to flip the bird on television, but that’s simply a remnant of the fifties we haven’t shaken. Unless somebody was handing out Xanax with the foam fingers, Lucas Oil Stadium was ringing with the music of profanities last night. More to the point, television viewers were submitted to ad after ad that likened women—negatively—to sofas, cars, and candy. Mr. Winter didn’t have anything to say about that, so I’d like to raise both of my middle fingers to him and anyone who thinks profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny. (My two sons, fourteen and eleven, thought the Fiat ad was corny, so I guess they will be safe without Mr. Winter’s intervention.) I say we get out of The Pretending To Be Moral game altogether and use the Internet for important things like posting pictures of cats looking at croissants and PDFs of sensitive government documents.”—M.I.A. Shouldn’t Have Apologized - The New Yorker
MTE I was shocked people were offended over M.I.A. (I didn’t even see her do that) when plenty of the commercials were far more disgusting and offensive. “Family friendly” my ass, there was nothing family friendly about that GoDaddy commercial.