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Fighting Game Community

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-03-09 05:07:43

Fighting Game Community

I'm loathe to do comic strips like these, because there's way too much foundational context to lay in smoothly if the reader isn't familiar with the subject matter. In short, the fighting game community is rife with assholes.

In long, it's a fascinating underground subculture. I participated in my teens, and fared respectably up through the point where Capcom piled on the "Super" and "Turbo" descriptors onto Street Fighter II variants. There's something deeply satisfying about building a rep in your local arcade, and owning a machine through hours of fending off challengers on a single quarter. And when two elite combatants throw down, it always gathers a crowd. Trash talking was frequent, but the social familiarity kept actual fist fights to a minimum.

If someone outgrew their little pond, they'd start prowling other neighborhoods for competition. Now facing strangers, pride would inflame these contests. Wagers might happen. Non-virtual violence became more frequent. It was always a hilariously anxious moment when a visiting victor would grab their winnings and make a mad dash for their car.

This community survives to this day, congregating at electronic parlors that have resurfaced as a Lazarus species long after arcades had been considered extinct. The genre itself experienced something of a renaissance with the release of Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This attention has attracted new fans, but the assholes have just as quickly turned them away.

I don't want to give the wrong picture here. Not every member of the fighting community is an asshole; it's just that it doesn't take that many logs of shit in a swimming pool to render it unusable.

Capcom inadvertently shined a light on this issue by producing the fighting game reality show "Cross Assault". Unsurprisingly, the female participant, Miranda "Super Yan" Pakozdi was targeted in a boorish manner, to say the least. The sexual harassment sparked a debate on the show, when Aris Bakhtanians, the COACH of the Tekken team, launched into a tirade which authentically encapsulated the aforementioned assholery. You can catch it here starting around the 1:45 mark.

Here are some choice excerpts:

"The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it's not the fighting game community."

"[Eliminating it]'s ethically wrong."

Further justifying his brand of racism and sexual harassment: "The beauty of the fighting game community, and you should know this, is that it's based around not being welcome. That's the beauty of it. That is the key essence of it. When you walk into an arcade for the first time, nobody likes you."

And then Miranda tries to share her perspective, and is promptly shushed by a man.

The debater confronts Aris, "When I go to SoCal Regionals and I see a Phoenix (a female character) on main stage getting blown up and there's some dude in the audience just yelling 'BITCH, BITCH' like every time she gets hit and then she gets killed and he goes 'YEAH, RAPE THAT BITCH', yeah that's totally acceptable? Really?"

Aris' glorious response: "What is unacceptable about that? There is nothing unacceptable about that. We're in America! This isn't North Korea! We can say what we want!"

What a douche bag.

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