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Making the Fighting Game Community a Safe Place for Everyone

With recent allegations coming to light, action must be done to keep the community alive

Over the summer, multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault were made against prominent members of the fighting game community. This includes players such as D’Ron “D1” Maingrette, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios. It’s good that the victims have come forward, but the question of how to prevent this from ever happening again remains.

All these allegations hit close to home because I am a tournament organizer. For nearly three years I have hosted and attended tournaments for various fighting games. As I started to learn more about the community, it never crossed my mind that people in the community may be abusing their power, but now I know there needs to be change.

Making a safe environment for players is vital to keeping the community alive. For fighting games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there is a chance that a younger player may stumble onto a tournament. It’s important that these individuals stay safe. Players I’ve talked to have wondered if the solution is to prohibit minors from joining tournaments, but I disagree with this point.

I believe tournaments should have an environment where everyone should feel safe. It’s the one place where people of different races, genders, and even age can meet up and enjoy a game. By discouraging younger generations to join, it ruins the inviting nature of tournaments.

That’s why it’s vital to create a safe environment for minors. One step that could help is to require minors to be accompanied by an adult. This way the adults will be able to supervise the younger player and provide a contact if anything goes wrong.

At the same time, tournament organizers need to be aware of what their players are doing. This will be difficult, especially when organizers are focused on running a bracket. Despite this, it’s up to tournament organizers to put their feet down and make decisions to keep the community healthy. This includes prohibiting sexual or hateful imagery and banning players accused of misconduct. However, to prevent organizers from banning people randomly, having a group of tournament organizers to discuss and investigate the situation is vital. This has already happened: on July 5 a group of organizers under ICCS banned Keyrogue amid allegations of sexual assault. 

pic.twitter.com/TarnlEYSU7 — Intercollegiate Chicago Smash @ ICCS 5 (2/5) (@IccsSmash) July 5, 2020

Having to ban a prominent player will be difficult, especially those we look up to. But remember, tournaments are about the players, but they’re not defined by their idols. Sure, there can be amazing moments with said idols and they could bring attention to tournaments, but at the end of the day, the real reason we play in tournaments is to grow a community and have fun. We can’t let a single person define our entire community.

An answer to these issues arrived last month as a group of community leaders released the Fighting Game Code of Conduct. Made in response to the aforementioned reports of abuse and misconduct, this document was made as a guideline to keep fighting game events as safe as possible. While the document was criticized, bringing up obvious violations such as theft and hate speech, I believe that laying out a set of common rules is necessary to keep tournaments healthy. New tournament organizers could use the document as a general ruleset to keep players aligned. The document even has a rule for minors saying that anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. At the moment of writing this there are no local events, which means the Code of Conduct can’t be tested yet. However, as an answer to keeping the community safe, I believe this Code of Conduct is a great start.

A collective of community volunteers have written the Fighting Game Community Code Of Conduct. This document is an open resource and was created to help community members take confident and uniform action against abuse and misconduct in the scene.https://t.co/IZ8vksozAA — FGCoC Communications (@FGCoC) January 13, 2021

In this time of quarantine, the fighting game community needs to understand that we’re fragile. It’s bad that a pandemic has turned a common tradition into a distant memory, but it will be even worse if we tear everything down because of a few bad apples.

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