Formal Disbanding of the COC

To the competitive smash bros. community:

For almost 20 years, we have been very blessed with a group of young adults who believe passionately in the values of competition and good sportsmanship. Who are eager to demonstrate their capabilities for the love of game and each other. Whether it is our most visible athletes, standing on stage at the end of a tournament, or the local artists and content creators who channel the energy and love they have for the game into passion projects, we have not been left wanting for community and for deep connections.

Unfortunately, this summer we found out something as a community that was obvious only in hindsight. It wasn't experienced adults, businesspeople, or companies who were driving the creation of all that we have. It was the conglomerate efforts of many thousands of young people. Everyone who has stood on top of the world stage began the journey before they even came of age, as have many of the organizers or personalities behind the scenes. And without oversight, without a cohesive community structure, and without the wisdom of experience, we found ourselves in the company of people who brought pain and suffering to each other. In many of their cases, we needed them. Some of our finest moments featured their voices or their energy, and now we are left with ash in our mouths as we think of what we learned about them.

There was an effort, a couple of years ago, to provide some sort of structure and support to the community. To be a responsible and authoritative voice that could help keep people like that from harming the community, or in more hopeful cases to never be damaging in the first place.This effort was led by a small team of serious but inexperienced community members, trying to create a solution to this problem where none had existed before. Along the way, we discovered why the problem didn't have a solution in the first place.

The amount of care and intensity that is required to keep up with the demands of such a thing would be difficult for even our parent company to create on the fly, should they care to. From the early parts of the process, we faced disbelief and hostility. We received cease and desists, and heard the intimate details of cases so personal and heartbreaking that it taxed the people managing it to their last threads. Tales of pedophilia and molestation, of death threats or of legitimate mental illness. And in some cases, clear examples of how easily all of us can let one another down.

All of this was done because we believed in the cause, and all of it was done with no material reward whatsoever. But the task before us is too big for it to be sustained through faith and strength of will alone. We were already stretched to our limit before the summer news set in, and when the floodgates broke open the tentative structures we had created collapsed. After weeks, months of trying to salvage something from the wreckage, we regret to announce the dissolution and end of the Code of Conduct Panel.

This was not an easy decision to make, but it had to be done. During the summer, many voices asked "why wasn't someone doing something about all these people?", and the reality is that at our current pace of work, we would need five or ten years just to go through all the accusations and possible cases brought up this summer. Thousands of hours would be spent listening to testimonies or getting details of the darkest parts of our community, and that is when you consider only the people from this summer. Any questionable behavior in the meantime would get added to a waiting list that could be a decade long.

As such, we encourage the community at large to take the lessons we've learned and apply them to your own local scenes. Take notice when the behavior in your community switches from inappropriate to dangerous, and use some of your time in person to speak with your fellow players about conduct you find inappropriate. The code of conduct itself will remain available to the public, so take advantage of that if someone might be a danger to those around them. We were extremely thorough and well-researched, with lawyers on two continents weighing in on our designs. The system was designed to be as morally and legally correct as possible; efficiency was its sacrifice.

The spark of hope still remains, however. One of the best sentiments I heard regarding this summer was that the thing that made our community different from other communities was not that we had these issues of exploitation or predation within our subculture. But rather, it's that we were the community who looked at it straight in the mouth when we found out, and as a collective agreed that that's not what we want to be. We feel a little better about stepping down from our role knowing that all of you have the passion it takes to be the warm light of your local communities.

With that, the last thing we wanted to do is to thank the people who have given their support up until this point. Our panelists and organizers, our signatories and players, even our twitch monsters who supported us through thick and thin. That we made it as long as we did, and accomplished as much as we were able to, was in no small part due to their efforts and belief. We truly could not have done it without you.

With love,
Josh Kassel
for the former Code of Conduct

Reply · Report Post