I am nobody to a lot of people. I’m just a fat dude from Arizona who has spent years considering myself a member of the larger “Fighting Game Community,” which has lead to–I would argue–immensely positive personal growth. I knew a long time ago that I was never going to be a national sensation at these games, but I never lost the love I had for playing and talking about them with the fine folks of the community.
The biggest problem with existing as a nobody in any growing community is being a bystander to a lot of bad behavior, behavior that is, whether folks believe it or not, actively pushing people away from the community. I sympathize greatly with those who don’t feel comfortable engaging with the FGC, which is why I started this blog in the first place. Sometimes all it takes is one bad tournament or run-in with the community to dissuade people from ever trying again, so I figured if I pointed out these frequent problem areas, perhaps it would help dispel the false notion that the FGC is free of the very same things that plague our society right now: homophobia, transphobia, sexual harassment, racism, etc. Would it work? No idea, but I knew that I had been silent for a long time, and even if I was shouting into the wind, at least I was saying something.
Unfortunately, part of being a nobody taking a stand is that you get accused of wanting “clout.”
Clout, as defined by Webster’s, is “power or influence, particularly in politics or business.” The “power” part is what I want to focus on here. I made a long tweet thread railing against the idea that I don’t have to like what Daruan “LowTierGod” Sparrow does, but dammit, I have to respect that he is trying to make something of it. As you can see, that thread and some of the individual tweets got shared out quite a bit, and naturally I had a bunch of assholes like the douche above claiming I was being a “clout chaser.” The belief seems to be that I, a nobody, want power of some kind, and so I have chosen to attack a known figure who has “clout” in order to siphon some of the goodwill of his “haters” to my side, thus gaining power to…continue to do nothing but write about the FGC? No, it doesn’t make any fucking sense to me, either!
I want to point out two things real quick:
1) LowTierGod has no “clout.” He may have a decent amount of followers on Twitter or Twitch or wherever, but his opinion means nothing to nobody. If he somehow got the ear of Capcom on how to fix Street Fighter V, they would dump his ideas in the trash. The idea that he has power or influence is laughable to me. He has a small audience and that’s all, which leads to my second point.
2) Speaking out against a person with an audience of any size is an invite to get harassed and yelled at on social media in an unrelenting and increasingly vicious fashion by that audience. Why anyone who wants power would invite such a thing onto themselves mystifies me, nor would I want that for myself. LTG’s audience is probably the same people that molest the cat and kick the dog. I don’t wanna be around those people!
I think it’s safe to say that despite having some unfortunate opportunities, LTG is not a big mover and shaker, nor is he a success in the FGC. But he, and the dipshits that would pick on me for saying these things, clearly believe that to be the case, which I find deeply troubling. How could this person of average-to-below-average ability, who has zero tournament results that aren’t poor, possibly believe that he has power that is under attack? Same goes for any FGC clown who likes to throw their weight around. I wonder what it could be…
If you payed attention to the title, you really shouldn’t be surprised at my answer!
I talked a while back about how John Diamonon, the head of E-Sports for Capcom USA, feels that the proper approach to finding E-Sports success is to create “stars.” If the masses could rally around “stars,” then maybe fighting games could finally find the large audience that has continued to evade it, even as other video games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Dota 2 continue to rake in millions of dollars each year from their respective fanbases.
Of course the problem with finding “stars” for video games is that young men that play video games and hang out on the internet often have a lot of baggage that comes with them. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some prominent game streamer/player that scream racial slurs, or calls someone a homophobic slur, or has participated in harassment against women. Worse still, most of these people do it because they believe they are untouchable and can say anything they want under some misguided sense of free speech or otherwise. And the only reason they think that is because they have the illusion of “clout,” that what they are doing is of profound importance and the only reason they get criticized is because people want that “clout” for themselves.
This is a problem in the FGC as well. So many high-profile players will stand accused of some sort of misconduct, only to get blown off because the accusers are “chasing clout.” You may remember that in my last article I highlighted Chris Tatarian, who has struggled with trying not to tweet dumb shit opinions about women, threatened to “annihilate” someone’s social media presence they had the audacity to question his dumb views. At no point did he think that perhaps he said something wrong or possibly offensive; he had an opinion, and he didn’t deserve to be yelled at for it because he’s Chris T.
The way the E-Sports model works in fighting games is to be very focused on the individual, the “star.” This isn’t unexpected; fighting games are largely a 1-on-1 contest, so there isn’t a team of players or a coach or any of the usual elements that are a part of the more prominent E-Sports titles. But with the hyper focus on the individual also comes a cult of personality that tends to become a shield whenever the individual becomes a focus of criticism. The shield is often so strong that you can sort of bully your critics into silence, and this will be supported by your cultivated audience, who will dutifully join in until the critic is vanquished. After all, anyone that is “hating” on you is just jealous and wants the power that you have, right?
Currently, Capcom, with the support of organizations like E-League, seems to want to form an established group of players, the “stars,” that stand out and should be cheered on by the “amateurs,” who will help the stars get bigger paydays while leaving almost nothing and no way for the amateur to grow past their status without a swath of opportunities that will be largely unavailable to them. This leaves the amateurs sitting idly by like the aliens in Toy Story, waiting for the lovely E-Sports claw that will put them on some reality show or give them a sponsor to launch them into star status. It’s a selfish culture, and I think it’s breeding more and more players who feel like they have so much “clout” that everyone is out to destroy them and take their spot, so they do everything they can to preserve themselves over the others.
Society likes to tell us that being famous or having clout means that everyone around you wants something from you. Sympathy and empathy? They’re weapons, and you can’t hand them out to just anybody. It’s not you, it’s them, 100% of the time. This is the kind of rhetoric that many of these E-Sports entrepreneurs use because they are, at heart, believers of their own bullshit as well. This isn’t to say that there aren’t ever sharks in the water of people with clout, but clout is relative. Here’s reality: the FGC, relatively speaking, is small potatoes. Any “clout” that you think you have is an illusion. If you’re a prominent FGC personality and someone is saying you you are being an asshole to them, pretty sure 9.9 times out of 10 that person is being genuine. To ignore that, and say they just want your clout, is profoundly ignorant. Empathy isn’t a weakness, it’s a necessary tool to survive in life. I understand that most E-Sports orgs will ignore that in pursuit of the almighty dollar, and that’s why I will continue to push back against them, because I’m tired of seeing people driven away from the scene because some players can’t think about anyone other than themselves for two seconds, an attitude that is pushed by the people with money.
We have to stop worshipping “success” as the end-all-be-all, because success earned by stepping on or hurting others is a vicious cycle that will continue to spin so long as that type of behavior is rewarded. God knows there are plenty of FGC success stories that don’t involve being a pig on social media or treating others like shit. Just because LTG is “successful” doesn’t mean that he is removed from criticism, nor is the system that allowed someone like him to be a success. Any time you see bad behavior from the usual suspects like LTG, Chris G, Chris T, Wolfkrone, and wonder why they have either sponsors or big time spots on a national television show, it’s a testament to the current system at play in the FGC: you guys “matter,” they don’t, and anything they say is just because they want your success and will do anything to tear you down. You’re not being sexist, homophobic, or transphobic, oh no! That stuff doesn’t exist in the FGC, it’s just these clout chasers coming for your clout!
I don’t want clout, I don’t want to be on a reality show, I don’t even care about being the best player at any particular game. All I care about is that everyone has an opportunity to have something like the great experiences I’ve had with the FGC without feeling dehumanized or made to feel like they were lesser because they had the guts to point out when someone was being awful to them.
I’m pissed at the behavior of these guys, but it should go without saying that no one is incapable of redemption and growing. A lot of them are young, and you have to recognize that a lot of times people who should know better will brainwash them down this path of selfishness. Of course, in order to grow, you need understanding, and I think it’s pretty clear that at the moment, a lot of these people don’t understand why their behavior is getting such pushback. To them, it’s because they are powerful folks who have something everyone wants, a lie told to them by people who don’t give a shit about anything other than making money. Any time you hear a half-cooked apology and then see the same bad behaviors being committed, it should be a pretty clear sign of someone who is probably compromised by the poison that is “clout.”
I think I’ll cut it off there. There’s a lot more to say on the subject, but I think that part of the story belongs to the people out there who have-been or are being wronged. I can handle a few dipshits on the internet, but I’ve had nowhere near the experience some folks do with regards to this kind of trash behavior. I’ll close by saying this: if someone is saying they feel attacked, listen to them before firing off your “clout chaser” tweet next time. Might get a whole new perspective.
As always, thanks to any and all who read this! You can follow me on Twitter (@KingHippo42) for further blog updates as well as the other content I put out like Medium articles and a podcast featuring Tekken legend Brad “Slips” Vitale where we talk about the NRS community/games! I’m also going to the Evolution 2018 tournament next weekend, so I’m looking forward to burning up only slightly less in Vegas while I hang out with old friends and see some of the best talent the FGC has to offer. Until next time!