On Nicknames

I was/am watching the TI5 qualifiers and I was well… I’m not sure what emotion I had, a mixture of disgust, irritation, and a drop in respect for a SEA competitive player who was taking part.
Why?
You can read the comments and view the picture here https://www.facebook.com/pmsfurryfish/photos/a.493649927343508.105461.116843381690833/906172916091205/?type=1&theater
It so happened that watching this game was a trigger for me to make this post and say something about it, it’s not to single this player out, but to talk about a wider issue of how players conduct themselves however they wish, without thinking about the bigger picture.

I’m from a very conservative family, where as a kid I was slapped for saying so much as “shit” or “damn”. I’ve witnessed my parents telling off young punks in public for swearing at the top of their lungs.
The general rule was, you have an education, you can speak multiple languages, so use that and express your emotions and thoughts in a respectable and logical manner. (Not saying that I agree wholeheartedly with this, but it’s just to let you know what it was like for me growing up, which probably contributed to how I think about this issue.)

I’m also currently part timing with a local NGO that’s pushing for eSports to become mainstream, and they’re working hard giving school talks and workshops, reaching out to the younger generation and their parents, so I understand a little about the difficulties involved in changing mindsets and trying to portray eSports as a legit, wholesome activity.

So now that I’m done with elaborating on my background, let me tell you why I find it unacceptable for players to use whatever derogatory or offensive nickname they want, and let me reply to certain comments.
Offensive nicknames would include vulgarities, derogatory terms, racist and sexist words/terms, symbols depicting something impolite…

1. There are people fighting really hard to show that this is a serious activity with a good future etc, but imagine if parents of young teens or elementary school children watch these games, see the nickname, and maybe hear the caster reading out the name. Does this help?
And no, you cannot control who watches the stream or game. So saying that only asians will understand the name (argument also not valid because I’m not just talking about this particular case), or that you aren’t expecting kids to watch this, also doesn’t make sense.

2. “No one else is offended, so I don’t see why you should be kicking up a fuss”
Is that what you’re going to say to a rape victim too? No one else was hurt or offended but you, so just shut up about it?
Maybe that example is a little too far fetched, but I am offended, and THAT IS ENOUGH FOR ME TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I’m not saying you can’t think otherwise or have your opinion on it. Feel free to state your point of view on your own social media page, but don’t tell me what I should or should not be offended by.
Also, saying it’s the norm, doesn’t make it any more acceptable to me.

3. It’s not like I’m one of those goody two shoes that doesn’t randomly emit an expletive, I’ve been filmed by dendi learning to swear in Russian. And no, my mum wouldn’t be proud of me if she saw it. But there is a time and place for everything. That was a relaxed, comedy video (that I actually didn’t know would be uploaded) and at the worst, the use of Russian expletives reflects badly on me as a person, also, I knew what I was being taught to say.
Using an offensive nickname in a professional tournament is much trickier because
– since it’s dialect, not all the casters or viewers might be aware of it, and it makes them look like a fool especially if they keep repeating it while casting.
– even if the caster was aware, it’s not a match I’d like to televise and show my parents, future kids (if I have any), aunties, uncles etc, and say that this is eSports, this is what I’ve given up a great part of my time and effort to be a part of.
– eSports already has a bad enough reputation, is there any need to create a greater barrier with the rest of the world?

4. I’m angry cos I’m a feminist and it’s cos it’s an asian guy???
This sort of comment totally didn’t make sense to me… so, wrong on both counts. The picture might have showed 2 teams in particular, but my caption is a general one about nicknames in general.
So just stop bringing up all the possible offensive nicknames that are used and asking me why I’m not pointing them out and getting offended by them.
Also, I’m not angry because it’s an offensive name. I’m angry that a professional player in a professional tournament would conduct himself in this way.
Try to imagine how it might be like if Messi or Ronaldo, or Lebron decided to take on a nickname meaning something similar.

5. “It’s just a nickname, let it be, let them do what they want”
Yeah, I ‘m not actively reporting them anywhere or pming them or their managers to get it changed, or making it known to valve etc. I’m just stating what I feel on my facebook fan page, and now on my blog.

At the end of it all, I’m not insisting organisers, or valve or anyone do anything about it, even though I would very much like them to. It would be nice if players and managers were a little more deliberate in ensuring professionalism in tournaments, It would make it much easier for people, who are trying to help the scene from the backstage, to make a more convincing case. And this isn’t limited to choosing nicknames, but also punctuality, statements they release on social media etc.

Just to add on, I don’t think this is the first time that in game nicknames have been considered offensive. A zenith standin created a big hoohaa in the NA scene for having a homophobic nickname a couple of years ago, and another Singaporean player created a racist nickname and played in a minor tournament and invoked the wrath of many – after a repeated offence he was removed from his team.

So the question isn’t “What’s the problem with using whatever name I want”, but rather, “why cant you choose a neutral nickname to avoid controversy?”

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2 Comments

  1. I play DOTA 2 and often see such abusive or crude remarks and nicknames. To be honest, i’m not immune to its effects too. Its an environment thing. After the match, often I wonder why I did that. That’s the cue for me to stop playing. And go back to work. Kudos for working to change this culture and for calling this out. I support the cause.

  2. Came across this on Riot’s website on shaping online player behavior. I think its quite awesome what they’re doing to reduce player toxicity. Interesting stuff starts somewhere in the middle. http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1022160/More-Science-Behind-Shaping-Player

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