The fighting game community or FGC, has been through a very rough 2020. Allegations broke last year concerning years of abusive and exploitative behavior, implicating figures at the highest levels of competition and organizing. The events discussed are myriad and include a wide range of terrible things, so it’s right that the FGC tries to make things right.
In response to many of these allegations and their fallout, the Fighting Game Community has had to create its own formal code of conduct. This is expected to apply at all official tournaments and events. Although it will be down to tournament organizers—and the companies putting time and money into supporting them—to actually make this all work well.
Lawyer and FGC Commentator David “Ultradavid” Graham helped organize things surrounding this new code, signing on to abide by it himself. Graham has been a part of the scene from 2002 onward, competing and commentating at various levels within the community. Seeing more and more big names jump onboard will help hopefully prevent more issues from arising in the future. Let’s just hope the momentum picks up and thngs change.
How did this all happen?
There were more informal controls in place, but the disaster that 2020 revealed had made something very clear. What controls were there are insufficient to prevent abusive behavior like what the fighting game community had dealt with. Among the issues, were allegations that Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar had been engaged in incredibly inappropriate behavior, including soliciting sexual favors from competitors, including some who were underage. This particular allegation rocked the scene as Cuellar is one of the co-founders of EVO. And that’s just one problem among many.
The original plan for 2020’s biggest fighting game competition, had been to move the event online, since COVID-19 made in-person events impossible. That plan was scrapped after the allegations broke, Over the following weeks, more accusations broke about TOs and competitors alike from all over the globe engaging in various extremely dangerous and inappropriate behaviors. Something had to give, and it looked like the FGC might be in big trouble.
The effort is being billed as an open endeavor that all within the FGC are encouraged to contribute to by both providing feedback, and trying to prevent toxic and dangerous behavior from occurring again. This new code of conduct is only a part of the solution, it now comes down to keeping to it. And yes, that means holding those who wish to cause harm accountable.
As for what the rules cover, it’s very simple. “The list of violations itself is pretty uncontroversial: don’t abuse people, don’t cheat in bracket, etc. It’s not mean to be anything that we didn’t all already know was bad,” explained Graham in a Twitter thread. The hope is that the way the community approaches these issues is sincere enough to prevent people from thinking they can “toe the line”. That would often manifest as someone trying to engage in behavior that is designed to “troll”. It shouldn’t have to be said, as it should be clear, but if your intent is to cause harm because you think it’s “funny”, get the hell out of fighting games.
With so many people wishing to get into fighting games, or just have fun with their friends, it should always be a welcoming competitive environment. You don’t have to be able to play at the top level to be respected. And along with that expectation of respect comes a need for basic human decency. It’s sad that this apparently wasn’t a thing for everyone already.
Where the FGC lands next is unclear, let’s just hope it’s a better place.