Black women are fighting for their place in the fighting game community in its ongoing battle against racism and misogyny.
Take a moment to think about all the different fighting game characters you can remember. Now think of all the female fighters, and then break that down into just the black female fighters. We were able to come up with two: Master Raven from Tekken, and Jacqui Briggs from MK11. That’s it. Compare that to the thousands of white-skinned and muscle-bound male fighters that abound in pretty much every fighting game regardless of country of origin, and you can see why a black female fighting game enthusiast might feel like they’re not being catered to.
Actually, it’s a lot worse than that, as a new feature in Polygon shows.
“Women are fighting for their place in a space where people claim they want more women, but won’t give us the respect because of our gender,” notes Taneisha “Professor High Kick” Jane. She founded the fighting game group Ladies Night in 2017 as a safe space for women fighters to vent and be themselves.
“We go by the motto, ‘We [women] will be seen, heard and respected,’ which I firmly stand by, because of the lack of visibility and amount of disrespect we get in the scene,” Taniesha added to Polygon.
The publication interviewed several female fighting game players, including Ashley “AmethystLady” Wallace who began her career playing Tekken and Guilty Gear at age 16. “Growing up, I didn’t see much representation from female players, especially Black female players. For a long time, there was a palpable discomfort in the air when I walked into a new gaming establishment. My expected role was to hear the murmurs and whispers that portrayed me negatively before they even knew me and leave.”
Nerd gamer communities are always very insular, but the fighting game community can add a layer of misogyny that makes it fairly toxic for women fighting game players. Look no further than Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez, who only recently got cut from Evil Geniuses over a racist and sexist Facebook tirade from 2017.
However, recent headlines have put a new spotlight on gamer communities, including the FGC. Several members of the Smash Bros. community have been accused of sexual assault, while EVO co-founder Joey Cuellar came under fire resulting in the cancellation of EVO Online.
Hopefully this will make room for more female voices in the scene, although Jane notes there’s still a “long way to go” before equality is achieved.
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