An Open Letter to Gabe Newell on Behalf of Braxton Pierce
Dear Mr. Newell,
My name is Jason Lake. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, but most likely you have not. To many of your loyal customers, I’m known as one of the founding fathers of American esports. I have devoted the past thirteen years of my life to professional gaming and Counter-Strike has always been a passion during that time. Like you, virtual worlds and pixels have paved the road of my life. My organization, Complexity Gaming, is like a child and a real member of my family; a family that has sacrificed a great deal in our quest to help build esports. While you are a great man who has built an empire, I am a simple man just trying to help foster the dreams of competitive gamers. I say these things only to provide you with a basic background of who I am. I am a husband, a father and a gamer. I am also a believer in second chances.
I humbly write you today in the hope that you and your CS:GO division will re-evaluate the lifetime ban of Braxton Pierce. To be clear, I do not claim the punishment does not fit the crime. As a man who has invested his much of his life (and lifetime savings) into competitive gaming, I absolutely abhor the idea of match fixing. It undermines something very dear to me: the competitive integrity that is the necessary foundation of all esports. I find lifetime bans to be completely appropriate for responsible adults who would callously erode that foundation while seeking personal gain. Now that this precedent has been established, I would expect no less punishment for future offenders.
However, I feel this specific case needs to be addressed again. Braxton was not an adult who was thumbing his nose at the rules while being fully aware of the potential consequences. Braxton was a minor who made a foolish decision for which there was no precedent in the Counter-Strike world. He was young and easily influenced by his older teammates. This is what continues to nag my conscience: a young man succumbed to peer pressure and quickly made a poor decision having absolutely no idea of the consequences because there was no precedent. In the future, no Counter-Strike player, regardless of age, can make this claim. Everyone now knows the punishment for this 'crime.' However, Braxton did not know. This bothers me. It bothers me as a father. It bothers me as a gamer. I feel in this specific case, justice wasn’t served. Yes, the punishment fits the crime, but sometimes there is a unique case that deserves a sincere review. I believe this is that case. Situational clemency brings humanity to any law or rule set. I believe this is that situation.
I want to make it clear that I have zero to gain from this humble plea. Braxton does not play for my organization. I am taking my time to write you this letter because it’s the right thing to do. It’s easy to ignore a situation and not give a damn when you don’t stand to benefit from the change. However, I choose to give a damn. As a fellow gamer and loyal Valve customer and supporter, I sincerely ask that you and your team give Braxton’s case another review. I believe that you will, Mr. Newell. Why? Because you’ve always given a damn as well. That’s why we love you.
Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Jason B.W. Lake