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My Experience with the Smash Community
I watched Omni's video and his perspective on what it's like for women and children to be in the Smash scene and it really resonated with me. It's what motivated me to make this statement. I agree with him on the point that, based on my firsthand experience, being a woman in the Smash scene is inherently different from the majority of Smash players. I was objectified, not by everyone but by enough people that I've had a negative impact on how people perceived me and those feelings have stuck with me ever since.
I currently deal with trust issues and trauma and a large part of it is because I was raped by someone I had known through the Smash scene. It wasn't by a famous player but someone local who was part of my then Smash friend group. With all the blow up with bigger players, imagine what's happening in the cracks that won't ever be seen.
I've come to accept that predatory nature is embedded in our culture, not just in the Smash scene but on a more systemic level. Despite how hard it is to come with terms with all that's going on think of how it's the ongoing reality for victims. Maybe after facing this ordeal we can all improve our awareness and change for the better. It's what I truly hope for.
In my earlier 20s, I developed an interest in Melee after watching the Smash Documentary that enlightened me to the Smash "gods" that are Mang0, Leffen, M2k, Hungrybox, etc. I was enthralled by this world and felt a deep-rooted desire to be a part of it, especially since I had just moved between states and felt very lonely.
I thought Smash could curb my loneliness and help me make new friends. Though Melee was what interested me, it was around the time Smash 4 released so I tried that too. While matchmaking through Anther's Ladder someone suggest I attend Xanadu since I lived close by, but from then on things got odd.
At first I would go to Xanadu for Smash 4 and Melee, they were hosted on different days and each game had their own distinct communities. On the Melee side, I had two strange occurrences:
First was a Samus main that had picked me out from the crowd and messaged me afterwards recalling my "cute cat backpack" and we agreed to hang out at my place. We started played Melee but then he suggested we drive to Virginia--a different state two hours away--so we can play with his friends at a college dorm (turns out he would make these long drives just so he could attend Xanadu) so me, be being young and naive, agreed.
Now thinking back, in no way was this a reasonable thing to do. Getting in the car of someone who's essentially a complete stranger and letting them drive me a long distance to wherever he wanted in any other circumstance would be serious endangerment to my life, but in truth my mind had normalized the concept.
The Smash documentaries I'd seen gave the impression that Melee players would do unconventional things like drive state-to-state to sleepover at someone's houses to attend large-scale tournaments; it was an event where different walks of life could connect through their passion of melee. This may not make any sense to some people, but I figured his suggestion was an extension of this ideology.
Don't put yourself in compromising positions like I did. I put myself in a situation where I had no one I could rely on if things went bad and I was closed off from my family so no one knew where I went. It was just me, him and no witnesses. I got lucky this time and everything went as planned but in the coming years I wasn't so lucky.
Just get the wrong person and it could be something that could affect you for life or worse. No matter how lonely you get, always keep yourself safe. Loneliness is debilitating l and it can make you do desperate things. I want to offer anyone the insight I didn't have. Stay safe, please.
This next encounter is milder but I think it shows the different expectations made based on gender in these sorts of environments. A Peach main I had spoken to casually texted me afterwards professing his intense infatuation and love for me. He called my voice beautiful and wanted me to join his band, and overall the whole exchange was jarring.
We hadn't talked deeply or even got to know each other on a fundamental level. This was the start of a pattern I realized later that people I was meeting in the Smash scene didn't really value me for me. They would initiate to try to get with me and once I revealed I had no interest they would disengage entirely. This would happen six more times.
1) A Ness one-trick who loved the character despite meta-relevancy, dropped the game to increase his pay grade. After I opened up to him on traumas I'd gone through he had bluntly asked "So you aren't ready for dating then?" I didn't talk to him after that.
2) A Smash 5 wolf main who was popular for being an extrovert and gave people tips to improve, had no tact and tried to awkwardly read if I had any interest in him
3) The Wolf main's friend who mained Snake and was more of an introvert and overly hard on himself when he lost. He had tried to makeout with me twice which was uncomfortable
4) Someone who was there supporting his friend and I had recognized from the college I attended, he had commented how everyone was looking at me and I assumed I was a "sexual deviant" because of my clothes
The last two incidents are more recognizable players that I'll explain in more detail next.
These kind of interactions made me feel empty; like I had nothing to offer besides my physical self or as a dating opportunity when all along I just wanted to make friends. I still hold that with me today and now I'm cautious of anyone who talks to me and start with the base assumption that they have ulterior motives. It's an unpleasant notion to always carry with you.
When I attended Pound was when I was came in contact with the two more well known players, Anti and Mewtwo King. To start off, I was not harmed by these two individuals. I had simply found myself in uncomfortable situations with them. In my opinion, we just didn't not have mutual wants from each other. To me it seemed like they wanted flings whereas I only wanted friendships, thinking back I was naive to expect differently.You'd think by now I'd learned my lesson, but perhaps I was hopelessly delusional to expect and want emotional connections.
Anti had paid for us to eat at Nando's and I dropped him off at his hotel, he even gave me his purple pass which gave me permission to go to the backroom for drinks since his plane was leaving early and he wouldn't be able to go, though on the car ride he had brought up suggestive topics such as whether I'd have a 3-way with a girl or if I sleep naked.
He also mentioned how he didn't really want to deal with talking with a girl long-term and would rather just mess around since he travels a lot and ended up saying to me that I was "so innocent." His preference in wanting casual sex is fine but the fact that he brought it up all suggested that's what he expected from me. That didn't feel very good but overall I would say he was a nice guy, I just wasn't interested in sex. To reiterate, based off my interaction with him I did not think he was a bad person.
My interaction with Mewtwo King was more extensive. There was a day before Pound officially opened and the venue was open for practice and Mewtwo King was there and I approached to play with him. I'm generally mediocre at games and he's M2K so he bodied me but he seemed to take an interest in me and I liked him as well.
We proceeded to chat throughout the event and it got to the point where he invited me to his hotel and I wasn't sure what to make of that or another comment he made about massages. I asked other people what I should do about it and I had mixed responses. Some said that M2K wouldn't try anything because he's M2K others thought it was suspect.
I ended up going to the hotel and intercourse did not happen. Although I was naked and slept in the same bed as him and gave him scratches since he liked that. He said something like "I don't want to do anything evil" and I took his word that and fell asleep. I didn't think he would do anything to me and I have no reason to think he did.
In all honesty, I should've gone home but I had come alone, I didn't eat for the majority of the time I was there and it was a 1-2 hour drive to drive back home and it was already very late. I decided to stay in the room overnight so I wouldn't have to drive at that time in that condition. I put myself in that unfavorable situation but now I know how to better keep myself out of situations like that.
Out of everyone I met at Smash M2K was the one I had the most genuine interest in but things were moving too fast for my comfort and I couldn't reciprocate intimacy. I personally can't do that kind of thing until I feel like I'm emotionally connected to the person. I did not know he would make moves on me as strongly as he did but I should have prepared for that.
When we woke I drove him to the airport and the only follow up interaction I had with him is when I used to have an instagram, he messaged me after I posted a revealing photo of myself saying he wanted to bedroom stuff with me. I responded by saying "I'm not interested in sex. Go find someone else," and haven't spoken to him since. As with Anti, I don't think M2K is evil at all. I think the circumstances we had met were awkward and I won't explore any ideas beyond that.
Overall, I don't think these people had malicious intent but an environment like this isn't something I want to be involved in anymore. For the most part, I felt like a frill-adorned piece of meat and that overall wasn't helping my mental health, but now comes the topic of the person who raped me and this is something I have a much harder time living down.
This person was one of the few friends I had after I had broken up with my failed polyamory boyfriend (he was polyamorous, I was not and I thought I could make it work and it's one of the worst decisions I made in my life). This was a relationship I attempted suicide via overdose in and we were both emotionally abusive to each other. I had to move out because I lived with him which meant moving back with my hoarding mother (though she is a great person, her hoarding negatively impacts me) so another friend offered his mom's place for me to rent and the adjustment was hard.
Since this person who assaulted me was the only one who spent time with me anymore I let him hang out in my room which was the stupidest mistake I could've made. I was in a depressive state throughout this entire period and this person wanted sex from me and even though I had said no he hovered over me on my bed and said "I'll just wait for you to make the first move." It was like that with him over me in a standstill and it didn't feel like it would end so I said "You won't tell anyone?" and he proceeded to rape me. I remember feeling disconnected from it all.
This was someone who I hung out with and played Smash with at a college club. I had proceeded to be intimate with this person once more on more consensual terms but shortly after I realized how messed up it was for me to even be involved with this person at all. It took me a week or two to emotionally process what happened. I even told him that he raped me and it all got swept under the rug. I shortly realized that being with this person is terrible for my well-being. I cut all ties with him.
What's more was that he was accused of rape another time when a girl who had just broken up with her boyfriend had performed oral sex on him. The charges were dropped because they were underage. It makes me question if he jumps on girls who are emotionally unavailable. This included with everything that I had dealt with in the Smash Community--it was all around the same time--it broke me. I felt like I had to reset my whole personality to cope. I couldn't handle it anymore.
I don't trust people anymore. I don't go out anymore. I feel like I have bouts of paranoia and that people will take advantage of me. I try not to overly nice to anyone because I don't want them to think I can be interested in them in any way. I don't wear anything that I'll think people will view me sexually in anymore. I will never hang out with a man one-on-one unless I KNOW I can trust them. I deleted all my socials. It's like I wanted to stop existing to the world so I could learn how to live with myself. This was only about a year ago. I can't even see myself as being the same person that I was. It's like my whole world got flipped.
I don't feel like I have any grounds for a rape case. I don't have evidence, how would I prove it? I only have a he said she said circumstance and I don't want to relive the events with the authorities. I've told this story to a therapist when I considered it sexual assault, because in my mind it felt more tolerable labeling that way but when he told me it sounded more along the lines of rape it was a grim dose of reality. Telling it to a therapist was hard and I'm dumbfounded I was able to write it here. I honestly wanted to bury this and move on since I was on the path to recovery but when I saw everyone coming out with their stories I felt compelled to write this. I don't know what it was. I just had to get it out of me.
Another instance that impacted me was when I had a stream match after my brother did and while he had normal comments on his stream, I was vehemently slut-shamed in twitch chat and that was something that struck me when it happened and still when I think back on it. I wish the culture would change. I don't know if it will, but I think what's best for me is to stay away and focus on different aspects of my life instead. I posted this because I wanted to bring awareness to this situation and I hope that no one else comes out of the scene feeling the way I did.
If no one gets it I understand. If people think it's something I deserved it because of how I dress than I understand. If people thing me bringing this up is unnecessary, I understand. Something in me just told me that if I don't put this out there now this is something that'll stay with me forever. But at the end of the day I was just another person who wanted to make friends regardless of how I dressed. I don't want someone to be as naive as I was and go through such needless trauma.
I've added photos I took on Instagram at Pound to help confirm my story. I was actually able to sit next to the person who brought the crab thrown at Hbox. He was a hardcore Mang0 fan.