An open letter to the Super Smash Bros. community

By Spencer Furniss

I don’t know where to begin. 

The last two weeks have been some of the darkest days in the Super Smash Bros. community. After major allegations against one of the top Smash Ultimate players came out, members of the community found their courage to speak out about their own abusers. At the time of this article, around 200 allegations have come out so far.

These aren’t cases of someone simply hitting on people and letting it drop. These are repeat offenders, who have abused their seat in the community to continuously get away with preying on fans, and sickeningly in some situations, children.

I’m not writing this to fill you in on every specific case. I am not writing it to tell you every single instance of assault that has been proven, corroborated or confessed. I’m also not here to name abusers or accusers. I want to give a brief glimpse of what has come to light, how the community reacted or failed to react, and where I personally think the community can go from here. 

This isn’t time to joke. There were sickening amounts of abuse.

Pedophilia, rape, sexual assault, grooming, and harassment.

No matter what gender, sexual orientation or skin color, these abuses happened to every type of person within the community. I’m not bringing up these events to shock you or to make a point of, “Look how fucked up this is!” I bring this up because the first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge and address it.

Accounts of abuse that have been corroborated or admitted to so far include:

  • a 20-year-old asking a 14-year-old for nudes and sexually explicit text messages, followed by repeating this abuse with two other teenagers over the course of years
  • A 24-year-old woman in a predatory, sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy
  • An adult male in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy
  • A 24-year-old man getting an 18-year-old woman drunk and raping her
  • The abuse and harassment of a 14-year-old girl, who lived in a gaming house with multiple adult men after escaping an abusive household
  • A disgusting amount of cover ups and threatening of the abused

This is just a short list. Many of the abusers did not have just one victim. There are many accounts of groping and harassment that aren’t talked about due to more violent abuse from the accused. In fact, as of writing this, the list has only continued to grow longer. 

The use of voice and opinion throughout the community

As is the case when anyone well-known has allegations come out about them, those invested in them come out to voice their own opinions on the situation. 

Overall, I thought that the community (specifically the r/SmashBros subreddit) handled the situations well. The consensus shown through the comments and posts I read accepted the claims, and mostly waited to hear from those accused before making a decision one way or the other. I was honestly surprised and happy that as a community, no one was made a villain until there was enough evidence to put them in that category. Even after the fact, the community had discussions concerning recovery for not only victims, but the abusers as well. 

There were still those who called for blood, whether of the accused or accuser, but they were quickly told off by the majority of the community. So, I naively thought that this experience must be representative of the whole community. 

Then I went on Twitter and read the replies to the allegations and defences. 

Hundreds, if not thousands, sent threats to every accuser. Threats of physical harm, death threats, and threats about attacking their personal lives were rampant. 

Behavior like this is unacceptable. Treating victims this way for telling the truth about the people you idolize is beyond petty and it is completely despicable. Regardless of the person, it is never appropriate to threaten someone’s well being, especially when they are putting themselves and their worst experiences out into the world.

Where to go from here

I get that I’m not a recognizable name in the community.

I used to be decently active in the Northwest Ohio scene until I moved away from the area, but I have been active online and in love with the competitive scene for the last seven years. The NWOH scene was a shining example of what I think this community is. 

As an example, back in 2016, one of our own committed suicide. The school year had already finished so most tournament regulars were already back in their hometowns. But a call went out, a tournament page went up, and we met one more time to compete.

We named the event the “Baby Falcon” tourney, named for his tag and favorite character. All fees for the venue had been waived, and all entry fees were given as a donation to Baby’s family for funeral costs. Overall, our relatively small community showed up like never before and raised around $1,000 for the family. I am still blown away at the thought.

Right now, I think we all need to show up for those who have been abused like my local scene showed up for our lost friend. We need to move forward taking care of those who have been hurt, and find any way we can to help them recover and try to ensure that this never happens again. 

We also need to police our own like never before. Children should feel safe when they come out to enjoy their favorite game with others. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether the people they look up to are predators. 

We should never sweep claims of abuse under the rug just because the accused’s name carries clout. If there is someone being abused and assaulted, it needs to be our responsibility to call it out, and support the victims when they bring out their allegations. 

We cannot be a healthy community if we attack those who bring to light our darkest parts. It is on all of us to make this community as safe as possible for everyone, not just those whose names are well-known.

At the end of the day, the Smash scene only dies if we let it. And honestly, the last few weeks have given me hope that most of us are looking to be the change we need. More and more often, people are educating themselves on how to respond to victims and removing those who, while maybe beloved at one point, have shown themselves to be some of the worst of us behind the curtain. When it was brought up on Reddit that Twitter responses were absolutely vile towards the abused, thousands poured out to try and make sure they knew that despite what they had seen, there were many more who supported and cared for their health and safety.

The past few weeks might have been some of the heaviest, but our community only falls apart if we don’t take care of it and trim the rot. Thank you to the survivors who have spoken up, thank you to the community who has supported them, and thank you to everyone who helps the community become and remain a safe place to compete in. 

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