In a move that honestly shouldn’t shock anyone, a Super Smash Bros. group who tried to start an anti-harassment movement became harassment targets themselves by fellow players. Polygon ran a story last week where organizer Josh “Roboticphish” Kassel was trying to create a code of conduct for events to help take away the toxic behavior and harassment of women. But when he posted the notice on the Smashboards, he was met with negativity and hostility.
The plan would have been to impose restrictions on players who couldn’t follow the code of conduct, even banning players who were repeat offenders. But it appears the majority of players would prefer to call players slurs in public and mistreat women players. Here’s a snippet from the article.
Women players make up about five percent of competitors, according to Kassel. He told Polygon that although women are generally treated with respect, sexism is not uncommon. “Players who lack basic social skills will sometimes say ‘oh, you’re pretty good, for a girl,’” he said.
Women have also spoken of sexual harassment and stalking at Super Smash Bros. events. In 2016, pro player Cristian “Hyuga” Medina was dropped from a team after being accused of sexual harassment by a competitor. In 2017, player Annapower89 wrote of her experiences being harassed by a male player and tournament organizer. Men have also complained about the toxic atmosphere. Top player Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios’ has spoken of intense bullying in the Super Smash Bros. community.
The biggest issue that the Super Smash Bros. esports community currently has is that while it is a big entity, there is no formal body or league run by Nintendo. Almost every organizer on the planet tends to book, regulate, and enforce their own set of rules. So if a code of conduct was actually put in place, there’s no way to guarantee a banned player won’t show up somewhere else and continue acting like a jerk.
While there are members of the community who think the entire thing is a joke and have said they won’t follow them, there are also members who want to see change and to have the bad players thrown out. Currently, according to the original post, about half the organizers have signed on to do this, but there are still many who have not responded or are not participating. Right now they’re looking over the legalities of banning players and other circumstances that have come up, but with a new game on the horizon that is looking to replace all the previous ones before it, it seems like now is the time to create a set of rules.