[Opinion Piece] Sexual Harassment in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Community

Spotlighting one of the biggest problems in our game. These thoughts and views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the rest of the YGOrganization.com staff.

Three months before I launched this site, I was living in Perth, Australia. I was staying with some Yu-gi-oh! players, specifically a nice couple who had the kindness to give me shelter temporarily as I was preparing for my move to the East Coast (where I’d live out the rest of my stay down-under).

The last thing I ever said to the guy I was staying with, at a mall in Warwick, was ‘I have this idea for a website…’. I wonder sometimes if he remembers this chat, as it’s the last one we ever had.

We’re here to talk about something else, however: not involving him, but his partner, and so many others like her.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a bit of a boys club – this isn’t a secret. Go to any tournament, and if you can find even 10 women, I’d be thoroughly surprised. But this isn’t because the game only appeals to men; after all, my then-girlfriend loved Tidal so much that she learned to play the game just for the one card (and also quit when it was banned, go figure). Women like dragons just like anyone else, ask George R.R. Martin.

While attending a sneak peek for Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy, this girl was harassed because of what she wore. Some of it to her face, but most of it behind her back. Quietly in corners, these people, muttering some of the worst things I’d ever heard, causing me to never want to go back to that tournament ever again.

Nothing is ever done about it either. Not one of these other players turned to the fraction of a human being next to them and called them out for being the scum that they are. Those who ever do try to speak up get called things like ‘white knight’, and other such things.

A while back, a somewhat famous player had to be suspended for threats of violence and rape against a female player if he saw her at an event he was planning to attend. Two other girls had revealing pictures of them leaked. This problem can range from very mild, to outrageously extreme, and it far too often falls on deaf ears.

My plan was to reach out to a lot of these women, but most of them did not want to re-live any of these experiences, or saw it as weakness to speak up in defense of themselves. I was able to interview one player though, over in Europe. She had another experience she spoke to me about. All information covered was reviewed by me and my team and verified to be true, but will not be made public to protect the identities of those involved:

I was approached by somebody in private back in May. They came to me terrified and upset, because of how they were being treated by somebody they thought they could trust, and were concerned other people would later fall prey to the same individual. They had first approached several yugitubers with this request, but none of them took her seriously, or ignored her completely. As a last resort before giving up, she asked me what to do. This is the nature of how women in our game (and some men) feel when they are harassed in this way. It’s no wonder so few of them play our game.

The following is the exact conducted interview.

Dan:
We’ll start off pretty simple: How long have you played Yugioh?

Her:
Since about 2015. I started at college with some friends, Though I properly started playing and learning rulings and such in 2016.

Dan:
So you would consider yourself a rather new player

Her:
Yes, I would say so. Though I play all sorts of decks, my first was Guardian Sphinx Final Countdown! My first serious deck for locals was Fluffals.

Dan:
In that time, have you experienced a lot of sexual harassment from other players?

Her:
Not really. Most of the people at my locals are younger than me and wouldn’t understand it, the older lot of my locals are all good friends of mine and wouldn’t do anything like that. We all have respect for each other.

Dan:
I’m glad to hear your local area is more friendly than the internet.
I’ve taken a look at these screenshots of the chat logs, and you appear to be so used to this kind of behavior that you’re almost numb to it.

Her:
I honestly thought it was a joke. Like, one of the earlier lines “Send Nudes” I know that as a meme so I got confused with banter. Understanding social cues can be difficult for me, especially online, as there is no tone of voice to help understand.

Dan:
The readers won’t have these screenshots available, before we continue talking about things like what was said, and how things appear, why don’t you tell us in your own words what happened.

Her:
So I wanted to know about the next set coming up, hearing about a page that does spoilers fast I decided to ask them about certain cards I wanted. They replied with what I presumed was a joke by asking me to trade naked pictures of myself in exchange for card news and I played along for banter and to make friends, however after a while it got weird, I still wasn’t phased by it, but I also didn’t want to stay up too late. So I tried hurrying along the conversation to see the cards I wanted to see, then it got weird. I stopped talking to them as soon as I realized it wasn’t a joke.

Dan:
And how did the whole experience make you feel?

Her:
Humiliated, annoyed, and ashamed.

Dan:
During this exchange, you had expressed to them not only did you not want to send the pics, but that you had a boyfriend who also wouldn’t be cool with what was going on.

Her:
Yes, I had tried explaining to them that I had a partner who wouldn’t be happy with this conversation and where it was leading. However, I don’t think that got through to them and they continued with what I thought were jokes.

Dan:
Can you describe these “jokes”? Remember, people reading this can’t see these screenshots we’re looking at.

Her:
Things like “Promise I won’t tell” “it’s only for my eyes” “he doesn’t have to know” “he won’t find out”

Dan:
So nothing about this made it seem like this was his first time doing this, or planned for it to be the only time?

Her:
Possibly. Hiding behind a huge facebook page to get away with this isn’t at all healthy for the community.

Dan:
which page was it that you contacted?

Her:
Italian Yi-Gi-Oh

Dan:
I want to remind people that while it’s true that page and ours have a history of not seeing eye-to-eye (as they’ve posted fake information in the past), it’s never been anything like this. If it wasn’t for the screenshots, I would hesitate to even believe it.

Her:
Without proper evidence it is hard for anyone to believe something, even if the person telling them like this experienced it. Proof is essential for unhealthy problems like this in the community to be sorted out.

Dan:
Those of us who have seen these screenshots all feel they’re pretty hard to look at. For those who can only read this; she even went as far as to send a stock photo of a girl in a bra, and he started demanding more and guilt tripping her afterwards (as well as actually showing a small portion of the cards. Cards they didn’t post on their own page until after this conversation was done, so he could use them as leverage against her.)

I’m sorry you had to experience something like this in our community. Nobody deserves this kind of treatment. In spite of this, you still move forward as a player though, and that makes me really happy. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Her:
Id like to say to anyone out there who has also experienced issues like this, don’t be scared or afraid people wont believe you. There are many serious issues that can be helped with and there are people out there who can help and be there for you, so I hope anyone who is feeling scared, you can trust in me that anything bothering you will be sorted.

Dan:
Thank you for your time. I hope you have better experiences going forward

Her:
Thank You.

This was quite a long read, so I’m going to stop the article here, but I encourage everyone, if you see anyone, female or not, being mistreated by people at your local tournaments, even if they’re your friend, speak up.

Edit Note:
This article has been edited to clear up a few things, and remove pictures of the cards asked about by the interviewed. They were added to add readability to the page by breaking up the text, but this was not clear to a third party reader.