My thoughts on the recent events and a statement on Credu's loadout
I can only really speak about my experiences in EU TF2, but the general culture of the scene has been so bad for a while now. This is coming from someone who has played or had an active role in the top end of the scene consistently since 2010. It never used to be this way; for many years we took pride in our community, and would confidently declare it as being among the best in the world. Naturally that’s a claim I’m sure many communities would make, however the point is that it was something we genuinely all believed, and we weren't even alone in thinking that
Regardless of whether or not we were the best community at the time; we had a pretty good claim; it wasn’t perfect by any means, but can you even imagine someone making that same claim today? The events from the past few days were an inevitable culmination of everything the scene has been about for the past three years - a steady, downward spiral beginning with the casual apathy that spawned in the wake of the post-i55 Overwatch exodus (in which top players and contributors left en masse for greener pastures), eventually degrading and developing into widespread toxicity originating from various cliques, before finally bleeding out into the wider community. It’s understandable, it all began very innocently, but we are now at a point where casual toxicity is so rampant in the scene that it is a shadow of its former self.
I had intended to quietly leave the game without saying anything sometime in the near future. It’s only as I found myself writing a post to defend myself and my team from complaints spearheaded by a group of some of the most harmful individuals the scene has had to abide that I felt inclined to weigh in. To be clear - the complaints regarding Credu’s loadout are completely warranted, and many who lodged them do not fall into this category. It is the spiteful motivation behind the aforementioned group’s complaint that struck a nerve. The specifics of Credu’s loadouts are covered in a separate section of this post.
I used to be one of the most outspoken and public members of the EU scene - for seven years I streamed, gave interviews, casted regularly, created tutorials, and took part in more podcasts than I care to admit. When an RSI injury that I’ve dealt with for the best part of a decade flared up and I was unable to play, I poured more hours than I can count into creating a team and the means to fund them to Rewind for no reason other than to help the community have another international LAN, but I now find myself in a situation where pretty much any participation in this community is a daunting prospect; such a negative experience that I genuinely want no part of it to the point where I dare not so much as take part in twitch chat.
Here I could list countless examples of things that happened to me, my friends, and people I barely know that have made this community a chore to be a part of in recent times. However, for the sake of not making this post any longer than it needs to be, for others privacy, and because most of us already know what goes on anyway (we just choose not to talk about it), I will recount one specific example. To many, I’m sure the bug meme was just your average bit of fun in twitch chat, but from my perspective that couldn’t be further from the truth. To this day I don’t know the true origin of it, all I know is that it came from the group of players loosely referred to as nunya/the bin, and that it was used with the malicious intent to berate and harass me. For months I couldn’t so much as enter a twitch chat without being met with a barrage of this “meme” along with an onslaught of abusive messages from these groups and their lackeys. A specific incident that sticks out in my mind is when one of these individuals saw fit to abuse their admin privileges on eu pugchamp to forcibly change my alias to “el buggington”~, which on the surface may seem like harmless fun but in context was thoroughly humiliating, resulting in me almost entirely abstaining from using the pug service from then on and for the foreseeable future.
Before I knew it, the “meme” had caught on and people I considered friends were taking part in abundance. I don’t begrudge these people, to this day I receive apologies on a regular basis stating they mistook it as just another meme to spam in twitch, not knowing the actual intent behind it. This serves to demonstrate the insipid nature of such behaviour, it seeps in and takes hold without you even realising what’s going on. I could list countless players who are no longer actively playing who would attest to the fact that a significant factor in their non-participation stems from similar experiences. I won’t name specifics out of respect for their privacy, but you needn’t dig too deep to find numerous examples. One thing I will state though is some of you may have noticed AMS twitter and twitch accounts have been deleted, echoing the sentiments I’ve expressed here.
Now, I’m not here to cry about my own personal grievances, I merely bring them up as one of countless examples of the everyday harassment and abuse players are subjected to. I also acknowledge and accept that as a more notable player/personality I will be subject to more negative attention than the average player, I’ve made my peace with that and for seven years never felt an inclination to raise those matters in a public forum. The scale of that which has occurred over the past 1-2 years pales in comparison to what came before it, and it is only now these sorts of behaviours are having an effect on so many people that I feel motivated to bring up my own personal experience. I haven’t spoken about these things before because I felt like the only outcome of that would have been to spur such individuals on further, and it is for this reason that I won’t list specific examples that I know others have had to deal with from the same groups and others like them. It should be clear that I DO NOT put these types of incidents on par with the level of abuse that minority groups have to face in this community. However, they all stem from the same prevalent attitude within the community - that this sort of behaviour is acceptable, and/or that it is not something people are willing to speak out against, for fear of being similarly targeted.
I honestly believe the majority of the community is still made up of decent people, and that it is predominantly a very vocal minority at the root of the problem, however the widespread apathy the community has adopted in recent years has made it complicit in enabling the sort of behaviour that has gradually eroded at the foundations of everyday decency within the community, and deterred so many valuable people from participating in the scene.
I would not go so far as to suggest these sorts of behaviours are in themselves equivalent to racism and other forms of traditionally recognised discrimination, however I believe they are all symptoms of the same problem, and that you cannot solve one without first addressing the other, as it is there that you will find the source - an environment that enables such behaviour on a day-to-day basis, all the whilst being entirely apathetic and quite often getting so lost in the disarray that they are actively encouraged and affirmed. It is transphobia, sexual assault and racism that brought this all to a head, but you have to ask how are we in a situation where it gets to that point before anyone so much as discusses the behavioural issues within the scene. We are in a place as a community where individuals felt comfortable and confident enough to go so far over the line as they are that accustomed to getting away with deplorable behaviour without reprisal – it literally took one of the most beloved community members to be called “ugly gook cunt” by a premiership player after having revealed a personal, traumatic experience involving sexual assault before anyone stepped out of their apathy and took stock of where we now find ourselves.
I guess when it comes down to it, my point is this: we can take every action to stamp out the outrageous, the unequivocally unacceptable - racism, sexism, transphobia - but it is the day-to-day nastiness that has fostered an environment where the disgraceful can routinely occur in the first place, and if that is not addressed in and of itself then you can rest assured that in six 6 months or 1 year’s time the community standing will not have changed. Players will still be taunted out of the scene and contributors will still quit out of frustration, only now you won’t have any tangible terminology or clearly discernible examples to call out and ban. At the end of the day, admins and moderators cannot police people being assholes. It is on every individual to recognise the behaviour for what it is – cancerous, and know that if you don’t object, replace or straight up drown it out it with something more positive, then nothing will change.
At this point I would like to clarify that I’m not so naïve as to think this problem is exclusive to TF2. However, the difference between TF2 and other gaming communities is that we lack the luxury of having an abundance of disposable people who can be topped up and replaced by incoming fresh faces. You can’t just re-queue and hope for better luck this time – you will see the same people every day if you wish to have any part in the general community. I don’t even think it’s a particularly solvable problem, hence why it is rife in almost every game, however the point is it actually matters for us. It is the difference between still having a scene two years from now, or having a smouldering pile of ashes.
So there you have it, no doubt I will receive a torrent of mocking and abuse for the things I have written here, but the way I see it if things don’t dramatically improve I will be gone before long anyway. I see so much positive discussion centred on at least attempting to make things better, yet very little acknowledgement of the day-to-day, “mundane”, harassment that takes place and will be free to continue even after organisations have put in their new anti-discrimination measures. If this post in any way furthers that goal, it will have been worth it.
On Credu’s Loadouts:
I absolutely deplore any and all racist and discriminatory behaviour. Se7en and its predecessors have always been encouraged to operate with respect for the game and its diverse community. Until it was revealed in the original thread, we had no knowledge of Credu’s loadout, and as soon as it was brought to our attention I immediately insisted he change it. Now, upon further consideration I’ve seen fit to remove him from our ETF2L roster as a way of demonstrating our commitment towards encouraging a positive and inclusive atmosphere for the community.
On behalf for my team, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended by these actions. It should be noted that whilst I condemn the use of these weapon names as entirely unacceptable, I would like to clarify that context is still important. I do not think that Credu is genuinely racist or intended to espouse racist ideology to the wider community. After speaking to him, I have learned that the weapon names came as a result of a six year old, forgotten in-joke. That does not excuse it by any means.
His use of them in our officials this season went completely unnoticed, in part because we only played with him once a week in those games, and specifically because those were scenarios where every player is focused on winning the match, rather than paying attention to item descriptions. None of this absolves anyone of responsibility for their actions, however I feel it is important to recognise a distinction between this action as a passive occurrence, and that of actively engaging in discriminatory behaviour or verbal harassment during matches through in-game chat. Both are entirely unacceptable, but I would like to make it clear that Credu’s repeated use of these items occurred primarily due to a lack of awareness, as opposed to intentional malice from any of us.
I’m not attempting to absolve Credu of responsibility, if the admins see fit to sanction either Credu or the team as a whole for these actions then it will receive no objection from our end (provided that it coincides with consistent rulings against all other offences committed by participants of this season - of which there were many). However, since a verbal warning was issued to all teams after the first round of play-offs, at which point we were informed that no punishments would be administered for previous behavioural offences (provided there were no further offences), and since Credu did not play in any matches after this - I see no reason why there should be any need for further action against us or any other team.
Finally, I don’t claim that my team are always saints; we do our best to set a good example but young, competitively-minded people are very easily sucked into the atmosphere that surrounds them. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you respond to and learn from them that really matters when all is said and done.