eSports

AAPI Leaders on the Call to #StopAsianHate in Esports

The devastating attacks in Atlanta last week that resulted in the murder of eight people including six Asian women sparked an important conversation across social media about the rise of Anti-Asian hate in America. In the past week, The Esports Observer reached out to several esports organizations, inviting AAPI professionals in our community to speak out, sharing their thoughts, experiences, and the need for esports as a whole to respond to this moment.

Greg Kim – Director of Esports, Evil Geniuses

“The hate crimes in Atlanta feel at once deeply staggering; but also far away. I’m lucky I haven’t had to suffer being in fear for my well-being or life – I’ve been part of communities where I could proudly and safely wear my heritage and identity. Even still, the Asian American experience is fraught with microaggressions, and this week has demonstrated the horrifying consequences of dehumanizing an entire body of people. It is an injustice we have had to address time and again across too many communities in our time.

As the steward of diverse athletes on our rosters at Evil Geniuses, I’m particularly sensitive to how race is perceived in esports. Just this week we saw a reddit comment saying we should have punished our Academy team after a loss because “the Koreans” know how to treat bad performances.

I’m proud to be a part of a Korean heritage so intertwined with the history of esports – but there is a clear difference between reverence and dehumanization. Huni is not Bang, is not Impact, is not Ignar. When import rule conversations refer to Koreans as a faceless other and not as the diverse talented individuals that they are, we enter troublesome territory of xenophobia and generalizations.

This is a time of mourning, reflection, and growth – and our esports community can lead the change we want to see in the world.”

Daniel “Tafokints” Lee – League of Legends General Manager, CLG

“I think overall, general awareness of who Asians are is a great starting point. I think most people watch “Crazy Rich Asians” or come up with a caricature of who Asian people are. Not every Asian person is rich or successful and there are certain demographics that are struggling hard that most people aren’t even aware of.  Also, Asians that are brought up in a traditional household abide by a different standard from westerners. The way we communicate and handle conflict are going to be much more different than what most are used to. I think a large part of conflict stems from ignorance of what we’re about and hopefully self-reflection and personal research bridge that gap.”

Tricia Sugita – CEO, FlyQuest

“Speaking for myself, I’ve encountered discrimination and racism within the esports space throughout my career. I know many others can say the same, and our experiences vary. In those moments, it’s easy to focus on the negative, to fight anger with anger. Instead, I choose to be good, to be accountable, and hope others see the value of my example. That’s a hard thing to do, choosing empathy over hate, but I believe it’s ultimately the right thing to do.”

Vivian Nguyen – Business Intelligence Data Manager, Team Liquid

“Racism is prevalent everywhere – no industry out there is safe. I have personally experienced people calling me racist slurs and verbally harassing me, both in and outside of esports. They didn’t care about who I was – all they saw was an Asian person that needed to “go back to their country.”. Because of incidents like these, I have to be cautious in places I shouldn’t have to be, from walking in a shopping center to buying groceries.

As an industry with a significant Asian demographic, esports needs to amplify Asian and AAPI voices when they speak out about racism and their experiences, and open up discussions about being inclusive of those who are interested in being a part of esports, regardless of who they are. These are the people who keep esports going — our fans, our staff, our players and coaches — and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep them safe.”

Genie Doi – Of Counsel, ESG Law 

“Let’s just treat each other with respect. Let’s not make any assumptions about other people based on where they’re from, what they sound like or what they look like. The esports industry is wonderful in that it’s a global community, and unique in that Asians aren’t particularly discriminated against. But when you’re in game, people still take cracks at each other based on race or country of origin. On socials, you still see plenty of comments about women being “waifus” “thots” or “e-girls.” I know poking fun at each other is part of the fun of esports and gaming, but the unfortunate reality is that there are still people in the community who aren’t really joking. It’s not fun and games. It’s really hurtful. So to help create a gaming environment that’s fun for everyone, let’s stop making race- or gender-based jokes and call out the jerks who are bringing our whole community down. I really believe esports and gaming has the ability to be this global, diverse utopian community because we’re creative, clever, and connected; the sooner we establish that hurtful behavior is not OK, the sooner we’ll be this beacon for other industries to follow.”

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