This will probably be a rambly mess, so here we go.
First off I’m not going to rehash all that happened, so read This piece from PA Report, But also this piece by Tom Cannon (also on PA Report). Also read this fine piece of work by The Brog, and some of the things he links to (Aris’s apology and Sp00ky’s comments).
I guess if you already know whats up, you can skip all that, but seriously, read The Brog’s post if you haven’t. He’s covers some stuff I wanted to cover (and probably will cover anyways).
So first I want to talk about Aris. I never interacted with Aris personally but I know several people who have. Everyone seems to like the guy. He’s smart and clever and funny, apparently. I believe all of that. Then I hear someone describe him as a Lunatic on the GiantBomb podcast. I certainly understand why someone would say that, and saying it offhandedly is fine, but we gotta remember, you don’t need to be a lunatic to say crazy, misogynistic things. If you needed to be a lunatic to say or do awful things, we’d have an easier time fighting this sort of thing. Instead this comes from someone that people enjoy to be around and that’s unfortunate.
Now truth is, Aris is a repeat offender, from what I understand, having been thrown out of a smaller event for similar behavior before. At worst he’s a horrible scumbag and at best he’s got a lot of shit to work out, as does a lot of the community.
There is an upside to this though. While the stream monsters were certainly in full force with the sexual harassment, there were plenty of people, especially on twitter who basically said that Aris wasn’t speaking for them. So many FGC members who were embarrassed by his terrible comments. Tom Cannon is right though when he says there is a grain of truth to what Aris said. The FGC is loud and rowdy and it’s generally hard to draw lines. It’s hard to tell when someone is being legitimately sexist and when someone is just using vulgar language for the fun of it. Aris was so well over the line that it may have served as a wake up call for some people. There is a difference between a bunch of guys yelling “Rape her!” when someone is comboing Phoenix compared to when a guy causes legitimate emotional grief to a woman, live on air. There are people who are going “This is different, and I don’t like it”. Seeing who sides with Aris and against Miranda is giving us a way to see who the real fuck ups are. We get to see a clearer picture of the issue.
Unfortunately that might not happen due to this being a PR disaster. The Media has been fairly responsible with the FGC. I wasn’t able to put into words how they were being unfair, but The Rog did it for me. We’re being used as a spectacle and no one wants to look at whats good in the community (see: Tom’s article). No one looks for the professionals in the community who would speak out against Aris’s statement. They just want the drama and they just want to point and say “Wow, these guys suck”! In a lot of ways we as a community do suck, but stereotyping a diverse community isn’t helpful.
Unfortunately I think this is more than just “not helpful”. It might actively hurt the cause. The FGC is very insular and anti authority already. This is the community that scorns sponsorship and scoffs at the concept of eSports. The community could just as easily put up new walls rather than open up from the poorly handled criticism and opening up is desperately what we need.
Starcraft didn’t get where it is now, community wise, by virtue of their character. Being in the public eye did that. Sponsorships and events made people clean up their act. The top players acted professional and the community, to a degree, followed. We’ll never be the SC community and I don’t think anyone wants us to be that. But we can, lead through example by the community leaders, be made to see the line better. We can be rowdy without being exclusionary. The most important people who can speak up now aren’t random gaming journos, but people in the community it’s self. We’ll probably always have asshole stream monsters. I think we’d even miss them if they were gone, but we can’t condone them. Even the SC community has a seedy underbelly, but everything above that is much more presentable. Team Liquid even had their own sexism scandal. But they don’t put it on GOM TV and when it does happen, personality figures within the personality don’t defend it. Classiness trickles down. We emulate the players we idolize.
We’re growing faster than we can keep up with. Miranda having to deal with sexual harassment is a symptom of that. As long as the community doesn’t reflexively yank back and top community figures act appropriately, we should slowly move toward being a stronger community.
I’m deepely disappointed about this whole incident, but in some ways it had to happen for what may be everyone’s ultimate benefit. I hope Miranda doesn’t give up either I enjoyed watching her play and she’s no joke. If you were to compare Sherry, Miranda, ChocoBlanka and BurnYourBra to any random sampling of Male tournament players, they’d almost certainly be better. As the community grows and open, we’ll only receive more female players and we need to learn to treat them fairly and know the difference between trolling and harassing.
That was all surely one big mess of a post, but I felt like I needed to post something.