A movement of holding abusers accountable has been sweeping across esports, but many are confused about the difference between Canceling and Accountability.
Recent allegations of sexual harassment and abuse have swept through the esports industry with a fierce intensity. It is the #MeToo movement of our industry and it is only getting started.
While several game division communities are simultaneously struggling to cope with an issue that holds so much weight, the spark that ignited the firestorm in at least Dota 2 was when Grant “GranDGranT” Harris’ character and behaviors were taken to social media, painting the caster in a disgraceful light.
From there other witnesses came forward and Evil Geniuses terminated their contract with Grant as he simultaneously announced his retirement.
What followed him on his way out was a slew of accusations and victims coming forward against another famed caster in Dota 2, Toby “TobiWan” Dawson. Once again his representing organization Code Red Esports and even BTS STudios distanced themselves from him and Valve quickly removed his voice lines from the in-game client.
There is little doubt that more survivors and abusers are yet to come into the spotlight. But what has been left in the wake of this storm is a very heated debate separating those that are working toward holding others accountable and those that believe this is just a massive wave of cancel culture ruining someone’s life.
So which is it? And why is it that both Toby and Grant lost their footing in the Dota 2 scene while accusations against Andrew “Zyori” Campell have not had the same outcome?
Cancel Culture vs Accountability
“Cancel culture” is the idea of boycotting certain people who have done something deemed unacceptable. According to Merriam-Webster, “To cancel someone (usually a celebrity or other well-known figure) means to stop giving support to that person.”
The idea behind it is that people can hold those in power accountable to the public – whether it be for perpetuating harmful ideas, pushing awful stereotypes, or engaging in abusive behaviors.
People are saying “how you act matters to us.”
Others, however, see Cancel Culture as a way that public figures are ostracized for problematic actions in the past. Meaning, that the actions of someone in the past do not define their current selves. They will say that the person was not educated that or about why their actions were wrong. They deserve a second chance.
Some view it as a way of bullying or inciting the mob mentality — mostly on social media to remove or oust someone from the landscape.
So which is it?
The debate around cancel culture is partly about how we treat each other, and partly about frustration with the lack of real consequences for powerful people. The problem isn’t being called out for behaving a certain way. The problem is behaving that way in the first place. And the repercussions.
Is it being cancelled or being asked to own the responsibility and change?
To that avail, I invite everyone to think critically about the accusations and consequences that follow before clicking away at the keyboard or hitting send on that thread.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did Grant in the early 2000’s really not know what he was doing wrong? Did Toby need to be educated that ‘no means no’?
- How many chances does one get? Second chance, a third chance, fourth chance?
- Do you know what the steps of ‘remorse’ are? Can you identify then, that there was remorse and meaningful atonement between first accusation and last?
- What does an actual apology and desire to change look like?
- Would an organization simply drop someone on unfounded slander? Wouldn’t that be ‘illegal’ in most places? Therefore isn’t it plausible to consider that they have other/additional information, have done a preliminary investigation or reason to believe there is truth in what is being said?
Right now people are challenging what people in power are saying and doing. Holding people accountable is a sign of character and growth and accepting responsibility is too. Conversations and reflection are being held, and that is always a good thing for progress. It makes people treat each other better and creates a much safer and more enjoyable environment for all. So let’s treat each other with respect and be an active part of change.