Monday, April 30, 2012

Why I Am Embarrassed to Admit I Love Video Games: Part 2, Sexual Arissment

Trigger warnings: Sexual Harassment, Transphobia & Rape.

That controller probably costs $300+
In the golden age of the video arcade the biggest draw were the fighting games. These were titles wherein the player would control the actions of one particular character selected from a stable of fighters, who would be pitted against another fighter in a timed martial arts bout. The opponents would deliver and attempt to dodge or parry flurries of punches, kicks and more exotic techniques until one of the fighters was knocked unconscious twice in a best-of-three series. The most popular titles had a huge variety of playable characters, each with their own dizzying array of special “moves” that took considerable dexterity with the controls to master. Crowds would form around consoles where skilled players were going head to head, and if you were feeling brave you could signal “dibs” on the right to challenge the victor by placing your quarter on the edge of the arcade console - surreptitiously, so as not to disturb the match in progress, though cheering and jeering from the assembled spectators was common in some arcades. These games combined the thrill of gladiatorial blood sports with an element of gambling; to challenge a player you had to feed quarters into the machine, but the winner could continue playing without paying additional money, monetarily rewarding skill and punishing ineptitude. Many men - and no small number of women - from my generation have fond childhood memories of watching these games being played by the best among us. Those lucky enough to have lived in cities with financially successful arcades might have gotten a chance to witness a sponsored fighting game tournament with cash prizes! Nothing brings the competitive spirit to the fight quite like a little moola. The arcades that hosted these typically sold overpriced pizza, hotdogs and popcorn, if you are wondering what the business model looked like. I didn't think about that when I was 12, I just forked over my allowance and considered it money well spent.

Like most video games from that era, all of the best fighting games came from Japan. The Japanese had huge arcades, we were told, with weekly tournaments paying out thousands of dollars. Everybody lived within walking distance of an arcade in Japan and everybody played; their skill was legendary. None of us could have imagined a future where people made a living playing arcade games and scrappy Americans would compete with the Japanese legends in tournaments that would not just determine who was the best player in the mall, but the best in the whole world! Yet here we are living in that future... and people have the gall to complain about a lack of flying cars. Also, we have smartphones so...

The arcades are dying, by the way. Video arcades, I mean. Modern arcades aren't really the same thing. They are full of ticket redemption scams, claw machines and prop based games that have no immersion value. In the few places that people are fighting to save them, they are fighting to save the Fighting Games. Yeah, they have an antique Galaga and Centipede in the corner, and maybe a collection of pinball machines, but it is the Fighting Games they want to preserve. It's a community.

We need to be careful about looking back on that era with rose tinted glasses, because it was far from perfect  (it only seemed great in comparison to the 80s). Looking back with the perspective I have now, highlighted by recent events, I remember a sinister side to what went on in those arcades. Girls were an uncommon sight in the arcades of yore, and those that were present were frequently the girlfriend of one of the older boys, crassly displayed as a trophy, as though he had traded in an absurd number of ski-ball tickets for her. Some amount of gawking and staring was inevitable in that environment, I suppose, but outright harassment was uncommon... unless, one of the girls had the audacity to place a quarter on the console. This would always create a stir among the the milling onlookers, and could scarcely pass without comment. She would be permitted to play, "dibs" was a sacred trust, and those who violated it were banished. I'm not being melodramatic, at a lot of places the management had official policies about it; you could get kicked out for disregarding a token. Even if that particular crowd had been silently observing previous matches, commentary from the peanut gallery always accompanied a female competitor. Players who normally concentrated silently on the game would start talking shit. The ones that already did that as a matter of course would become coarser. This, incidentally, is how I first learned the words cunt and twat, though divining their exact definitions would have to wait another 5 years or so for the invention of the internet (thanks, Al). If the girl lost, she would be told to go back to her boyfriend, or shoe shopping, or playing with dollies or whatever stereotypically gendered activity the hecklers imagined was most funny to mock her with. Making us sandwiches was not yet a thing we said. I guess misogynistic humor wasn't yet that advanced in the 90's, or perhaps men still remembered how to make their own sandwiches back then. They were different times.

I did not see it at the time as an obvious double standard, but if she won, her male opponent would be the victim of mocking – losing to a girl?! The shame! Better go buy a dress, pussy, etc... I realize now the true victim of this mocking was still the girl. Not only did we mock either loser with "girly" things, but her prowess with the controls was being dismissed; her victory was always attributed to a shameful lack of skill on her opponent's part. If she lost, all girls sucked. If she won, just one guy sucked, temporarily. Her defeated opponent would feel he had no choice but to pay for a re-match, to prove she "got lucky" (in a genre where there are no random gameplay elements). If she defeated him into token bankruptcy - often feigned after two or three defeats to save face, I imagine - she might be punished with the further insult of facing no additional challengers. Who would risk the shame of being beaten by a girl? The “real players” would shuffle over to the second most popular game in the arcade, disgruntled at the disruption of our play by this interloper and pretending we weren't cowards. She would be left to battle computer controlled opponents in solitude, or worse, be forced to play while simultaneously fending off the creepy advances of (often disturbingly older) suitors whom, I am ashamed to admit, I usually thought were incredibly suave for having "the balls" to pursue her. The girls never stayed in the arcade as long as the boys.

The attitudes and behaviors of our childhood arcades are not something we all grew out of, nor even most of us, it seems. Truth be told, the worst of the harassers in the arcades of yesteryear were nearly or already adults at the time, much older than the stereotypical 13 year old brat that is blamed for all the harassment problems in the modern equivalent of the arcade: XBox Live. It is not a stretch of the imagination to say that now, two decades later, these exact same creeps are still part of the problem. We got to watch one of them continuing the arcade tradition live on “Cross Assault.”

Even ignoring the incident, the “Cross Assault” event would seem a little strange even if you are already on board with the whole concept of playing video games professionally. I imagine it is quite incomprehensible to non-gamers, so I will attempt to break it down for the layman. Two of the most popular and venerated series of titles in the fighting game genre are Street Fighter, published by Capcom, and Tekken, published by Namco. These two companies have one of the fiercest rivalries in the Japanese video game industry, perhaps second only to Sony vs. Nintendo. Recently released Street Fighter x Tekken is the first of 2 crossover titles featuring character lineups from the eponymous games and other titles owned by those companies. Crossovers of these two rival sets of intellectual property were a big deal among the FGC (Fighting Game Community), who were themselves quite polarized into Tekken and Street Fighter loyalist camps. Otherwise, intellectual property crossovers are common in this genre, leading to absurd situations like a tag team match between Spider Man & King Arthur vs Wolverine & Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

Yeah. Japanese video games are weird sometimes...

OBJECTION! So... many... objections...
Anyway, the release announcement was an escalating series of publicity stunts culminating in a web show called “Cross Assault,” billed as a professional fighting game reality TV show. If that sounds like the most bizarre thing you have ever heard of, remember: King Arthur vs Wolverine. Just roll with it.

This is where I get a little fuzzy with the details – apparently you have to actually watch it to find out what the whole deal was, but the crux of the show was that two teams of 5 players, one representing Tekken, and one representing Street Fighter, were assembled based on their merit as fighting game champions and their “personalities,” to battle it out in a week long crucible where they must work together as a team under the tutelage of their coach, but face individual elimination (like Survivor, I guess?) for a shot at $25,000 and a trip to the “Final Round,” a prestigious convention/tournament in Atlanta. They were selected from audition videos, and there was something called the “Salt Mines” where you were facing elimination and had to wear pink shirts... I don't really  know the rules. Or who won. I could look it up, but I don't care. I have absorbed far more Cross Assault related "knowledge" than I can tolerate. I feel bloated. And dirty.

Each team had their own live web stream of their practice area while competitive matches between the teams were played on a third stream, running all day on the internet for free, February 26 - March 3, 2012. This was basically a very expensive and elaborate commercial for Street Fighter x Tekken, and a perpetual hype generating engine for a new era of Fighting Game tournament play.

The facts relevant to the incident that caused this whole internet hullabaloo involve just two players: Aris Bakhtanians, a prominent figure in the FGC, drafted as the coach of Team Tekken, and his teammate Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakozdi, one of two female competitors. Here is Super_Yan's audition video and a pre-event interview. Her enthusiasm for the game and the event are apparent. Particularly heartbreaking, in hindsight, are her comments about her respect for Aris.

Most of the sexual harassment happened on the Team Tekken stream. It is all available online, but this was a week long event with 10+ hours of footage per day over 3 streams. I can't possibly comb through it all, but an outraged fan cut together clips of the offensive behavior from the first day. She was capturing and recording streaming video, which is a rather difficult thing for a computer to do, so the video is choppy, but the audio is fine. Aris is the voice heard at the outset. When he refers to unnamed people with demands, they are the viewers in the chatroom, who bear quite a bit of the blame for this as well.

This is varsity level sexual harassment. Viewer discretion is advised:

These are just selections from day one. By all accounts, it escalated as the event progressed. She was contractually obligated to remain until eliminated, and forfeited her last match to hasten her departure. Here is a record of her moment of defeat, with an interview. Compare her enthusiasm in the pre-event videos to her awkward and dejected exit. Her twitter account was shut down in the immediate aftermath of the event. She was undoubtedly receiving harassment from “fans” through this vector, as well; all female pro-gamers get that. It has since been reactivated, and although gaming news websites report tweets pertaining to the incident were removed, many still appear in her timeline.

These tweets were from day 4 of the event.

By all appearances, Aris broke her. What's more, he enjoyed it. A common refrain from the trolls who defend his behavior is, “she's laughing; she liked it.” This demonstrates a toxic victim-blaming mentality and lack of empathy. People laugh for many reasons; laughing as a reaction to socially uncomfortable situations and pain is common. You can hear the difference. I can't speak for her, and can only imagine how she felt, but her laugh sounds to me like the laugh of a very uncomfortable person, not a genuinely amused one. Aris' laughter sounded amused. It takes a special kind of awful to punish your teammate, who is begging for a break, when she loses by “smelling you, real close, while I say your boyfriend's name” [time index 11:50, above] and then remark, after she has left, “I hope she is crying in the restroom.” [time index 13:32, above] The laughs of her other teammates are a troubling mix of discomfort and mirth. With more forced laughter, and some genuine, she somehow managed to find a way to say some nice things about the show in her exit interview - because she is a tremendous class act - but if you watch the before and after interviews you can tell the experience has changed her. This was a woman who came in saying she loved the fighting game community and would donate any winnings she got to her local arcade so they could upgrade to keep the dying video arcade community thriving in her hometown, and left saying she was too scared to go the “Final Round” tournament and needed a break from the fighting game community for a while. This change happened in the space of a week. Getting picked to participate in this event was probably the most exciting thing that had ever happened to her in her whole life. Aris killed this woman's joy of the game.

Let's take a look at Aris, now, shall we? His pre-event interview gives us some interesting insights into his character. He is asked to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates (recall, he is the team coach). On Super_Yan, he pontificates, “I'm hoping that since she's a woman, she's also a white woman [the other female competitor is Asian], you know, we can use that to our advantage, because everyone likes white women.

Wow. Classy guy, huh?

This is not the first time he has harassed a woman on a fighting game live stream, either. He was doing play-by-play commentary - called shoutcasting - of matches at the 2011 EVO Championship Series, which is a really big deal in the FGC. This tournament attracts Japanese pros, including Kayo_Police, a famous model, television personality and Street Fighter champion. She, like Aris, is the embodiment of a cultural stereotype, but unlike Aris, is thoroughly delightful. Via machinations unknown, while she was still competing in the Winner's Bracket, she wound up sitting second chair on Aris' stream to assist in casting, despite speaking almost no English. Half of the commentary is Aris fantasizing out loud about marrying her and mocking her valiant attempts to communicate with him in English, while she struggles to understand him. He also smells her. Sniffing women is apparently a thing with him. He sells a creepy t-shirt of them holding hands to raise money for his site. I wonder who would wear such a thing. I also wonder if she is being paid likeness royalties.

The thing that troubles me the most about Aris, though, is how he handled the fallout from his treatment of Super_Yan. On Day 5 of the event, a conversation took place between Jared Rea, a community manager for Twitch TV (a sponsor of the event and the virtual venue that streamed the content over the web), and Aris, though anyone on the Tekken team could chime in. A transcript of the most interesting parts are on Giant Bomb, if you want context, though no context could justify any of this.

Rea: Can I get my Street Fighter without sexual harassment?
Bakhtanians: You can’t. You can’t because they’re one and the same thing. This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community—it’s StarCraft... That would be like someone from the fighting game community going over to StarCraft and trying to say “hey, StarCraft, you guys are too soft, let’s start making sexual harassment jokes to each other on StarCraft.” That’s not cool, people wouldn’t like that. StarCraft isn’t like that. People would get defensive, and that’s what you’re trying to do the fighting game community, and it’s not right. It’s ethically wrong.

Rea: When I go to SoCal regionals and I see a Phoenix [from Marvel vs. Capcom 3] on main stage getting blown up and there’s some dude in the audience just yelling “Bitch! Bitch!” every time she gets hit and then she killed and goes “Yeah, rape that bitch!” Yeah, that’s totally acceptable! Really? Really? You’re going to tell me that’s acceptable?
Bakhtanians: Look, man. What is unacceptable about that? There’s nothing unacceptable about that. These are people, we’re in America, man, this isn’t North Korea. We can say what we want. People get emotional.

It was at this point in the program that Super_Yan stopped offering resistance in her scheduled matches. She walked her character helplessly towards her opponent without defending herself.

Aris latter offered a notpology, to appease... I don't know who. Not feminists, surely. I'm going to pick it apart. You can tell a lot about a person by how he apologizes.

I unfortunately used extreme examples in the heat of the moment and feel that my statements don’t actually communicate how I feel. This is similar to what people say when they get into an argument with their girlfriend, and they say things that they deeply regret.

This is your go-to analogy, Aris? Deeply regretting what you say to your girlfriend in an argument?Wow! We are going to learn a lot about you from this notpology.
I sincerely apologise if I have offended anyone. My statements do not reflect those of Capcom or myself. The last thing I want to do is get them in trouble for giving me and the fighting game community the opportunity to have an amazing show like this.
How touching, his concern about getting in trouble. Don't worry about covering Capcom's ass, though, Aris, they already issued the blanket “we take no responsibility for this event that was totally our responsibility” corporate notpology we all expected of them. Though I guess you might need to suck up a little to be given another sweetheart gig like this. Not that they seemed to mind when it was going on, though, so you are probably cool. I am interested in the mental gymnastics you did to arrive at “My statements do not reflect those of... myself,” though. The things you said are not the things you said? Remember, this isn't from a live statement, it is a written press release.

What I was trying to communicate is that mild hostility has always been a defining characteristic of the fighting game scene. Back when arcades were more prevalent, people didn’t like newcomers, and players needed to fight and pay their dues to get respect.

People didn't like newcomers? No, Aris, YOU didn't like newcomers, because you are clearly anti-social. Well adjusted people welcome newcomers, provisionally accepting them as potential members of the group and possible friends, as long as they are not disruptive. Unless "newcomer" is a euphemism for "woman." Because yeah, we were totally hostile to women. I am wondering, though, when you are going to get around to giving them that respect you mentioned. Super_Yan has paid her dues. Kayo_Police is the goddamn queen to whom the dues are paid!

The debate I was in was with a person who supported professional leagues, who have intent to censor the community to make it more accessible.

The debate you were in?... this... this public apology isn't for your treatment of Miranda, is it? This is about your argument with Jared Rea, the important man with the important job that is vital to your continued livelihood.

I think the sink or swim mentality is something that defined our culture, and if that succeeds it removes something which has been important to help create some of the best fighting game players of our time.

Aris, you had one of the best fighting game players of our time on your team. She didn't sink; you drowned her. You held her head underwater until she couldn't fight any more. And then you smelled her.

Again, I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. This was a combination of the people taking things out of context and my own inability in the heat of the moment to defend myself and the community I have loved for over 15 years. 

Not sorry for what you did, just sorry that people were offended. Classic. I'd be interested to learn the context that justifies the statement, “I hope she is crying in the restroom.” If you continue to have difficulty defending yourself you may need to consider your behavior might be indefensible.

And no, I did not edit out the part where he apologizes to Miranda, personally. He didn't.

I started this investigation into Aris Bakhtanians' background and behavior on “Cross Assault” expecting that when I finished, I would hate him even more than when I started. Instead, I find the opposite has happened. I cannot summon the energy to feel outraged over his outrageous behavior anymore. I vented my rage on his infuriating notpology, and now I'm mostly done with it.

Part of it is my trip down memory lane to the old arcade. I feel a kindred pain with Aris, and Super_Yan, and probably all the other "personalities" on Cross Assault that I never got to know. I miss the arcade, too. We may or may not be able to save it, but in the process of looking into what he does when he isn't crushing young women's spirits, I have learned that fighting to save them is a big part of what motivates Aris. His defensiveness with Jared, though misplaced, was a defense of this cultural artifact. He acts like a delinquent teenager in an arcade because, more than anything, that is what he wants to be again. I don't know, I can't read his mind, but that is the person I see him as now, and I can't hate that person, not very much, anyway. I came damn close to becoming that person myself. I see versions of Aris in the older boys I remember from the arcade, the examples of manliness I had chosen for myself to emulate. I eventually realized they were poor examples to follow, but did they realize it? I suspect many of them still behave like Aris, when they have the chance, though likely few of them are so fortunate to be respected leaders in the FGC, able to play their beloved fighting games every day and talk smack to everyone that they meet. They may have even left games behind as a childish plaything, but they are still probably the same callous jerks I looked up to. A dreary life in a cubicle somewhere limits their opportunity to act out their misogyny, if for no other reason than self preservation, but they still sexually harass the few women in their environment because their model of hegemonic masculinity, partly learned in the bizarre, token-driven pecking order of the arcade, demands it. If I were a betting man, I'd say they are driving women away from X-Box live as I write this, the same way they - no, we - once drove them out of our sacred temple to the Video Gods.

What we learned from Cross Assault was terrifying. We didn't learn that people are capable of cruelty, we knew that already. We didn't even learn that Aris is an asshole; I'm sure that anyone who knew him before this could have told us that.

Cross Assault introduced us to a passionate woman, talented in an exciting genre, enthusiastic for the opportunity to try an unreleased title that has the potential to be the biggest thing in her gaming scene for a long while, and an opportunity to train with other talented players and professional coaches, compete for fabulous prizes, and go to a huge live tournament. What did we learn from her? What can Super_Yan's experience tell us that we didn't already know?

We already knew from the experiences of other female gamers that on a service like X-Box Live the many moments of sexual harassment that take place before offenders can be safely muted without being fragged are enough, after a while, to make the game "not fun any more" for many female gamers and those from other marginalized groups. Male, too. I avoid Xbox Live games because the harassment on there disgusts me, and I experience much less. Others find it is still fun to play in relative silence, without hooking into comms, but it would be more fun (not to mention advantageous) to play with a crack team of armchair commandos who don't use use voice chat to bully "others" and instead do novel things like, oh, say report the enemy's position and coordinate tactics! Still others give the bigots as good as they get, until it gets exhausting or boring. All of these are valid ways for women to navigate an environment of toxic masculinity like the arcades of the 90's and Xbox Live today. Do these women have different tolerances for abuse, or are they being exposed to different amounts? How much "not fun" has to be added to the fun to kill joy? Certainly there is more than enough sexual harassment on Live to ruin the enjoyment of thousands of people, but they all use the mute function differently, and play games for differing intervals and frequencies, and luck of the matchmaking algorithm exposes them to varying degrees of vile behavior in every match. There is no experimental control.

Until now. Capcom has provided us with a meticulously documented experiment in psychic torture. A gamer is stripped of all the tools she normally has to defend herself from abuse, inadequate as they are. She cannot mute her tormentors, she cannot put down the controller and walk away. She is utterly at their mercy, and every agonizing second of it is captured by webcams and streamed live on the internet. We now have the experimental data we need to measure the breaking point of the gamer spirit. Soon we can say with scientific certainty how long and viciously you have to sexually harass a woman to bring her from the zenith of joy for the game, to the nadir of "it's not fun anymore." We know the exact moment it happened.

The consensus is that this screencap documents the moment Miranda's spirit died. This is the exact moment she went from struggling to have fun, to waiting out the end of her contract so she could go home to be with people who care about her. This is what the death of joy looks like.

That is what we learned. It takes approximately four days of constant verbal abuse to kill the love of a game.

It is too easy to pile all our rage onto Aris, because he is so obviously a lowlife, degenerate, woman-hating bastard, but he is not a special lowlife, degenerate, woman-hating bastard. He is not an aberration of misogyny, he is just a prominent example. What he did to Miranda is horrifying, but he did not do it alone. He acted as a willing sock puppet to thousands of people like him. Although I am sure he is perfectly capable of doing so on his own, many of the specific examples of harassment he inflicted on Miranda were culled from the live chat, suggested by viewers of the stream. A few even came from other teammates. Street Fighter x Tekken had taken a backseat to the much more interesting game of "Let's get a rise out of Miranda." It took a little while for the chat denizens to realize it, but Aris, who was ostensibly empowered to boss Miranda around, was willing to act as their collective X-Box Live headset. Even better, now instead of seeing an avatar of their victim and maybe hearing her, they could see and hear everything, and she couldn't go anywhere. She had to ask Aris for permission to go to the bathroom. She was their personal captive for six days. As long as their antics were amusing enough to keep Aris interested, he'd keep reading chat. So they escalated, until the entire content of the show was discussions of Miranda's body, personal relationships, bathroom activities, sexual history... This was interactive reality TV for internet bullies. This was a social torture game, played by text, that they won by coming up with torments novel enough that their chief bully, Aris, felt he "had to share."

Cross Assault showed us the vicious power of this weapon our gaming colleagues casually spew into their microphones, and how far they would take it if they could.

You'd think no one without some kind of financial ties to Capcom or Twitch or another sponsor would try to defend Aris' indefensible behavior... unless you know anything about the gaming community. There is a segment fighting a constant war against imaginary enemy of Starcraft playing, overly-sensitive straw-feminists that want to censor or ban their favorite games. They leave comments where they think they will be seen by her supporters, saying of Super_Yan, "She just needs a good fucking," and "I bet money that Miranda wouldn't of been so offended if Aris was better looking." Clearly they think she has not suffered enough abuse yet. They want to hurt her, her fans and all the people who dare to criticize their precious video games more.

We have an obligation to use the data from this vile experiment, however unethically obtained, to benefit gaming culture. We need to try to use this travesty to mobilize the outraged gamers of all genders to protect our kin from this kind of treatment in the future. We mustn't let Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakozdi's ordeal go to waste, and we can't let it be repeated.

Capcom's mad experiments were supposed to revive the arcades. It won't work. Maybe we can't save the arcades, but perhaps we need to ask ourselves if they are worth saving. Aris is not completely wrong in his controversial statements to Jared; sexism is very closely tied to the FGC. It was definitely an integral part of my old arcade. It may be a poison that stays with this community and cannot be removed as long as people like Aris, and the other kids from the old arcade, are in charge of it. As long as fighting games are still fun, though, and I think they always will be, the games will be there. Esports and a global gaming community can be built around other games, and once it is blindingly obvious that the example of professional Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 4 (hint, hint, Blizzard) and other as yet unreleased games are the model for a successful community, fighting games can be brought into the fold. A new community can be created and populated with entirely new lovers of the fast paced, lighting reaction time, high flying, sudden death world of fighting games. And don't forget the inevitable Digimon, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony crossover fighting games, either. You laugh, but it's coming, mark my words.

Thanks for hearing me out. The next installment won't be such a downer. It's about the fun and exciting world of racism in online games (yay)! Spoiler alert: the bad guys don't win this one.

And if you see Super_Yan at a tournament, cheer for her. Despite what you may have heard, she is not a quitter. ^_^


  1. An excellent piece and it leaves me wondeing if the current generation will grow up to be just like aris from other influences

  2. As a woman who plays games, and in particular can painfully relate to the SoCal arcade example you mentioned above, I applaud this piece and its introduction. Masterfully written, I can't wait for the next installments. Thank you so much.

  3. Very well written and totally heartbreaking. When I look at other websites carrying this story, the comments are filled with denial, minimizing and flat-out misogyny. You're very right when you call this incident "data" -- I'd wager that if we added together all of the data (the experiences of female gamers), we'd have a very disturbing picture.

  4. More than half of this story is written based on incorrect information. It is sad that people are so quick to crucify someone without knowing the truth. Unfortunately this is the way of the internet. Aris is a great guy and the true circumstances of this incident have been intentionally hidden by Capcom to protect them as a company. Aris was thrown under the bus.

    1. I do admit, waiting only two months after the incident may have been a bit quick to crucify. Better let the dust settle first. I'll go ahead and take this down again until I've had time to peruse the documents exonerating Aris that your Ninja stole from Capcom's evil lair deep under Mt. Fuji. I can't wait to discover what the secret circumstances are that make up for the dozens of hours of recordings we have of him "acting" like a misogynist douche? Gasp! Was Miranda a Namco spy? I can't wait to find out!

    2. Very mature response. It really legitimizes your article.

    3. Well I had to do something, an Anonymous Coward came by and totally de-legitimized my position by saying Aris is nice and insinuating corporate malfeasance. Actually, he kinda looked like you. I think. Maybe?

      Gah! I can't tell any of you Anonymous Cowards apart. Is that racist?

    4. Aris was a douche, but he isn't the only one. I get tired of hearing sexist comments directed at me . I can't stand the shock I get when people find out I play video games and am good at them. I can't stand the way people dismiss my knowledge of the game that is clearly right because I'm a woman. Men like Aris need to feel like they are better than women in something because they are so insecure about their manliness it basically doesn't exist, and anyone who defends this bastard is just as bad.

  5. Great job addressing the abusiveness of the FGC community, makes me glad I never got into fighting games.

    Respect and compassion are what all life forms deserve. Hate and condescension comes from a diseased or injured mind.


    1. If fighting games aren't your cup of tea gameplay-wise, that is fine, but I think it is really sad that some people who would enjoy them are effectively barred from participating, or have the experience ruined, by stuff like this.

    2. Couldn't agree more with you that it is really sad. I think the greater tragedy though is the hate and condescension's impact on the bullies and victims alike. The loss of a gaming experience is merely collateral compared to the loss of a sense of mutual respect and compassion.


  6. I have sort of a complicated response to this article, because it's talking about a situation that I think is also complex.

    To give some background, I am a pretty avid fighting game player, so this article hits close to home. Though I hadn't taking fighting games seriously until the last few years, I've always played them and enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with them.

    I hadn't really followed Cross Tekken while it was happening, but I read a lot of the articles about sexism and Aris' behavior when this thing exploded. For the record, I really don't approve of how Aris treated Super Yan and I agree with most of what your article says about it.

    With that said, I feel like the middle of the article is a little too extreme. Particularly the section where you break down his notpology. Maybe it just seems weird since you seem to make a full 180 right afterwards and say that you sort of understand where he's coming from. The middle of the article paints things as super black and white, when they're (seemingly by your own admission) slightly more complex than that.

    My view of the situation is that Aris treated Super Yan really terribly (as he treats many people, he embraces his "lovable asshole" personality type), which wouldn't have mattered (as much) if they weren't forced to be together all day for a week in a row. Capcom should've stepped in and said something to him, but they didn't. When confronted about it, Aris was attempting to defend something much bigger and more valid than just his misogyny, but instead painted the whole FGC as a bunch of sexist pricks, which makes everyone embarrassed to admit they love fighting games.

    With that said, I think Aris is a bit of an outlier these days. When I began to play fighting games competitively, the people were super nice. The shit talk he mentions only happens when there's a lot of pressure (like an arcade where there's technically money on the line, and of course at tournaments). Girls have come by to play at the gatherings I go to and they're always treated with respect.

    I don't know if I'm saying you should rewrite the article. What I'm trying to say is that Aris' actions practically speak for themselves in how awful they are, and that crucifying him makes you look like an extremist. The section following his crucifiction is great and shows how weird the situation is in the grand scheme of competitive gaming, and how while his actions are inexcusable, they're just slightly understandable.

    Just my 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 cents.

    1. I actually did change the article, to its current form. The original version painted Aris in a much more sympathetic light and examined his behavior from a more nuanced perspective. I changed it to it's current form for three main reasons.

      1)I had trouble doing so in a way that didn't seem like it was minimizing what Miranda went through.

      2)A nuanced break down of his behavior requires some lengthy analysis and the article was just too long.

      3)I have plans to write at least 4 more installments in this series of articles, and I will have plenty of "column inches" to address the complexities of the situation in more depth later.

      I don't agree that I was too harsh, but I acknowledge that the person of Aris Bakhtanians is more complex than is presented in just what I wrote. I will probably write more about this later, but for the time being, I am done with him.

    2. Those are all pretty great reasons.

      With those and the rest of your response in mind, I'll humbly say that I excitedly await the next post in this series.

      Thanks for responding to me.