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Homophobia, Racism and Sexism in eSports: A Call to Action

homophobia racism sexism esports

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56 replies to this topic

#1 vVv LordJerith

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 11:35 AM

I think over the past couple of weeks, it would not be unfair to say that in terms of culture and values, competitive gaming and eSports has had better weeks. By now, most everyone has heard about both the Aris incident that happened in the fighting game community and the Orb incident that happened in the Starcraft community. If not, here is a quick summary:

“This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20-years-old and the sexual harassment is part of a culture,” said competitive fighting game player Aris "Aris" Bakhtanians on a recent live stream for Capcom's Cross Assault show, “and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community.”


Then, the Starcraft Player Orb’s use of the n-word was captured here:


I think it’s time we raised awareness on these issues, set firm standards of conduct and evolve the eSports culture into something that can truly be called “professional.” If we are “professional gamers” and if there is a “professional eSports industry,” then our standards must separate us from “gamers.” If we want to be treated as professionals, then we don’t get to edit out the parts of professionalism we don’t like. We must stop making excuses for bad behavior.

Before I get to the proposal, if there are any questions about my credibility on this issue, I would like to share that I am uniquely positioned within the eSports community to not only comment on these issues, but also propose standards.

Since its founding, vVv Gaming has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to people and to diversity as demonstrated in the fourth pillar of our community. As vVv has grown and expanded throughout the world, its players and community members have become more diverse. vVv believes that this diverse community helps the organization realize its full potential. Recognizing and developing the talents of each individual brings new ideas to vVv. We benefit from the creativity and innovation that results when our gamers (who have different experiences, perspectives and cultures) work and play together.

This is what drives innovation and performance at vVv. We believe a well-managed, diverse community expands our base of knowledge, skills and cross-cultural understanding, which in turn, enables us to understand, relate and respond to diverse and changing gamers throughout the world, connecting them to the power of eSports.

In my day job, I am the Director of Research and Advisory Services for multiple business-to-business magazines, of which one is Diversity Executive magazine. If you did not already know, changing global demographics make it crucial for organizations to look outside their comfort zones to seek and retain a competitive business advantage. These trends allow new ideas and perspectives to emerge that support innovation, influence effective decision making and create strong connections to a diverse community and client base.

Today's marketplace also has made organizations more socially conscious. Doing business with women- and minority-owned companies, purchasing products from economically challenged regions of the world and bringing awareness to social causes and humanitarian efforts improves businesses' status as good community leaders and employers of choice.

Diversity and inclusion are no longer just good for business, they are business. Diversity Executive magazine provides strategies to create a more diverse and inclusive business culture and help leaders leverage diversity for maximum organizational gain, moving the needle beyond awareness into action.

I hope this rests any concerns about my credibility or ability to comment.

If we do not tackle this head on, then we are missing an opportunity. I want to remind you that Diversity IS business. I won’t bore you with Return on Investment (ROI), Return on engagement (RoE) and other measures, but they all point to few important facts.
  • A diverse, workforce is the sustainable competitive advantage that differentiates one organization from another (Just ask Facebook, Google or Apple). Diversity is essential to win in the marketplaces, workplaces and communities around the world.
  • An inclusive, flexible work environment must value differences that motivates employees to contribute their best. Allow people to bring their whole selves to work and play.
  • To better serve customers fans and our communities, we must attract, develop, promote and retain a diverse player base, workforce and community.
  • Trust, mutual respect and dignity are fundamental beliefs that are reflected in our behavior and actions.
  • Accountability for diversity and inclusion goals will help drive the growth of eSports.
This should NOT be about the PAST. It is about the future. Everyone starts with a clean slate, (yes, even Idra, whose use of the word "fa--ot" disgusts me).

My proposal (Call to Action)
  • All Leagues, organizations and individuals associated with eSports (especially senior leaders and sponsors) should set a zero tolerance policy on any homophobic, racist or sexist language or behavior.
  • Train your staff and employees in these policies
  • We “self-police.” I am not asking for a witch hunt, but I am asking that you reach out to players and PRIVATELY point out their bad behavior. If they fail to cease inappropriate behavior immediately, then bring it to the attention of their managers and sponsors (who should have zero tolerance for this). First, give the player a chance to correct their own behavior.
  • Hold leaders accountable. If leadership of any organization or sponsor fails to act, we immediately hold them accountable through social media, boycotts and pressure on customers, fans and any revenue streams they may have.
  • I ask that Twitch.TV and Justin.TV ensure they a zero tolerance policy in place and have a transparent, fair process by which to handle diversity and inclusion issues. Partnered/Featured channels and content providers should be held to high standards,
  • We hold online events to raise awareness of this issue in various communities (SC2, FGC, CoD, etc.)
To start, I ask that you share this on all social media, and voice your support. Over the next few weeks, I will be reaching out to many organizations to get their support in helping shape an eSports culture that is not only diverse but Inclusive. A culture that is not just about representation but also about utilization. I know these are big ideas, but from McDonald’s to IBM, from Deloitte to Accenture, from Ford to Toyota, top companies do this every day.

It's our turn to make a 100% clear commitment that eSports is working hard to join the ranks of other industries in relation to our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We should lead on diversity, not follow. We should do it now.
LordJerith
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Co-Owner, vVv Gaming
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#2 BTrain11

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:16 PM

I disagree with all 3. I have two close friends who are homosexuals who get harassed everyday because of what they stand for. My sister is a girl gamer and guys mainly judge her because of it and racism I stand against because I'm mixed with Afrcan American and Portugesse I think the spellings write lol. Anyway I see all 3 forms of these in gaming each day and it's just sad seeing it.

#3 Phlosio

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:20 PM

I disagree with all 3. I have two close friends who are homosexuals who get harassed everyday because of what they stand for. My sister is a girl gamer and guys mainly judge her because of it and racism I stand against because I'm mixed with Afrcan American and Portugesse I think the spellings write lol. Anyway I see all 3 forms of these in gaming each day and it's just sad seeing it.


Agreed. If we cant stop everyone from doing it, at least we'll be known as the community for stepping up and taking action against it.

Professional. Bottom line.

Edited by Phlosio, 09 March 2012 - 12:29 PM.

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#4 KrazeR

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:28 PM

Great read, hopefully other communities shows, podcasts etc. talk about this topic so we can create more awareness among every gamer, and stop this bad behavior.

#5 Guest_RedManOne_*

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:42 PM

Good read,

Agreed. If we cant stop everyone from doing it, at least we'll be known as the community for stepping up and taking action against it.

Professional. Bottom line.


It will be very tough to do, because we are talking about changing ways that people have been talking and in some instances grown up with. But anything is possible.

#6 vVv Spike

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:57 PM

I don't know of anyone who "agrees" with it, but it will always be around. It's not going away

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#7 ShadowsCrush

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 01:10 PM

Good read,

It will be very tough to do, because we are talking about changing ways that people have been talking and in some instances grown up with. But anything is possible.


To be fair, we're not trying to change the whole world, just eSports organizations.
Sure, it would be nice to get every gamer to smarten up, but that's unlikely.
This just aims to get those sponsored/representing eSports to follow those rules, and maybe others will follow their example.

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#8 vVv RobZGod

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 01:32 PM

I think it's a big step towards legitimizing eSports. If we want to reach a more mainstream audience, we need to act much more professional and be more accepting of all cultures and beliefs.

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#9 vVv SugarBear

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

I don't know of anyone who "agrees" with it, but it will always be around. It's not going away


But at least we can keep it in the "bronze leagues" and not a part of professional team and player conduct.
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#10 AnDyB

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 01:35 PM

I don't know of anyone who "agrees" with it, but it will always be around. It's not going away

Spike is right, No matter what we do this kind of immature behavior will always be around. But im sure there are some ways to make sure that this stays out of events and stream.
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#11 vVv RobZGod

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 01:38 PM

But at least we can keep it in the "bronze leagues" and not a part of professional team and player conduct.


Exactly, the pro gamers and organizations need to set the standard for conduct. The trolls will always be here, but making it known that there is a zero tolerance policy towards this behavior will help amateur players follow suit and "get it."

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#12 vVv Spike

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:15 PM

But at least we can keep it in the "bronze leagues" and not a part of professional team and player conduct.


Yes, professional players should receive a consequence, as any professional athlete would.

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#13 Ecstxcy

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:17 PM

Its Pathetic to see may i saw "Bullying" in the eSports community. Not saying ive never said something Racist or against Gays, but i shortly realized its just unprofessional.

Its Pathetic to see may i saw "Bullying" in the eSports community. Not saying ive never said something Racist or against Gays, but i shortly realized its just unprofessional.


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#14 Griddlez

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:27 PM

Teams and sponsored players should be held up to a higher standard. You can't make people change.. but you can give them a good example to go by and see everyday.

#15 vVv Bizkit

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:40 PM

Love how people think they can just use slanderous words and expect no consequence. Especially on stream. People speak too freely and forget how to censor themselves.or for that matter have enough decency and common sense to be respectful. So i hope this gets big and people can realize that they should not be an "orb"

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#16 Magnet

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:45 PM

There should be regulations on team streams and things like that, and i also agree that there should not be any discrimination no matter what.
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#17 EzaLB

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

I don't know of anyone who "agrees" with it, but it will always be around. It's not going away

I totally agree, just gotta live with it .

#18 RayOfLight

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:07 PM

professional, classy, style all day

Edited by RayOfLight, 09 March 2012 - 06:47 PM.

Favorite qoute, applies to the games i play: Starcraft 2 and Dota 2

"If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”


#19 CharcoalCoyote

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:26 PM

Alright, Neutral Evil/Devil's Advocate coming in here. This may be a long winded "argument", but I think there are those of us who may appreciate my viewpoint.

Yes, there are many who have been given a hard lot in life based on some personal quality. Some have been looked down upon because of race, used as a scapegoat due to their sexuality, discredited for their sex, or even tortured on the grounds of religion. I agree that some of this abuse could have been prevented. However, I do not know if zero tolerance policies are the correct route of action. Putting any policy in place will instantly draw a negative reaction from the opposing side, which could wreak havoc on the already fragile world of eSports. Zero tolerance policies also have the unfortunate side effect of being incredibly labeling. One slip of the N-word and you're a racist. Call something "gay" and you're a homophobe.

There is a huge problem in the world with what I'll call "personal squishiness". Standards of living have generally improved exponentially in the world over the last century. Many things people once had to deal with are no longer an issue. However, humans are still just as emotional as they always have been. This has caused people to become noticeably more easily offended by simple things over the last few years. Does nobody remember the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."? It seems as though there are more and more anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, anti-whatever laws coming in to play every day. Is a person no longer entitled to believe certain things?

Now, before people begin to get on my case, I am in NO way sticking up for hate-criminals and blatant injustices. I'm simply presenting the other, often unspoken side of the story. Many homosexuals can present a clear example of a time in which they were bullied or acted against because of their sexual preference. Many women have their own tales of times when they were passed up in a professional scenario for an equally or less qualified man. However, it's also worth noting that lots of white, straight, non-religious or majority-religious males (much like myself) have also had to deal with plenty of discrimination the other way around. Attempting to advance the causes or enrich the lives of this specific group of people almost guarantees cries of outrage from every other combination of every other group. A whites-only scholarship? That's racist. Male-only social group? That's sexist. I understand that many of these other social categories of people have collectively gone through some hard times in the past, but does that really entitle them to a handicap bonus in life?

By no means am I suggesting that I believe gaming is a culture which should be dominated by white straight males. I'm simply arguing that a less strict policy may be more beneficial to the professional gaming world than going after players who break the rules like the Spanish Inquisition. I'm all for diversity, but if there's one thing I can't tolerate, it's a whine. Gaming can be brutal. I've played most of the games that vVv sponsors or is considering sponsoring teams and players for. I've been yelled at, berated, and called more horrible things than I care to recount. If anything, gamers should be more capable than the rest of handling petty insults or offensive slang.

I understand the argument that professionalism is required in anything we want to call "pro". I'm a huge advocate for diversity in all regards. I believe people have the right to live their lives as they choose, and ought to have a fair chance from the get-go. However, I don't believe it should be a massive social scandal when a pro gaming celebrity expresses their own views on sexism, or lets slip a word that some people may find offensive. I grew up in a school system that was more than 70% African American. The "N Word" rapidly became a part of my typical social vocabulary (not in the offensive connotation, simply as a substitute noun/pronoun), and after 7 or 8 years of usage, it's very difficult not to let it slip out at times. I slowly witnessed my best friend come to terms with his own sexuality through the course of more than 5 years, and we cracked "gay jokes" with each other all the while.

Long story short (or tl;dr for all you netizens), I'm not saying that the pro gaming community shouldn't be held to standards of professionalism. I'm just suggesting that it may be a tad counter productive to police all professional organizations and nab evildoers who touched exhibits in the Museum of Glass Feelings. I don't think people should be punished for expressing their beliefs, even if those beliefs offend others.
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#20 vVv Exodus

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:58 PM

Well said, I agree 100%





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