Professional Tekken 7 player Tanukana was kicked off the Osaka-based esports team Cyclops Athlete Gaming. The team competes in FPS games such as PUBG, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Siege, and fighting games like Tekken. She is currently in big trouble after making remarks about the men’s heights during her live stream — which wasn’t about gaming, but fan interaction. Those in the public eye should know better than to express any level of discrimination, especially while live streaming.
According to Kotaku, Tanukana stated that men under 170cm (5’6.9″) don’t have human rights. They should also look into getting bone-lengthening surgery. It’s worth noting that the average height for men in Japan is 170.8cm, or 5’7.2″. Needless to say, the remark has caused massive controversy online in Japan, especially since the expectations from “pro gamers” in Japanese society are pretty high in terms of online behavior, and Cyclops Athlete Gaming ultimately terminated Tanukana’s contract. But there’s more to this story than just an online remark, and it might have cultural undertones.
On February 15, Tanukana sent out invitations to fans to watch her newest video stream, which wasn’t about Tekken; instead, Tanukana made a cake and connected with her fans while answering their questions from her kitchen. Unfortunately, what was a pretty laid-back stream soon took a catastrophic course, as the streamer got into the subject of ordering something from Uber Eats and ended up refusing the attempted romantic advances from a delivery person, a young man who asked if she would be willing to share her contact info with him.
She turned the young man down, who apparently took the rejection well. However, the reason for her rejection wasn’t because she felt it was inappropriate and unprofessional for the delivery person to attempt romantic advances towards the customer. Instead, the Tekken player rejected him for his height, stating that he would stand a chance if he’d been taller and better looking. This, of course, didn’t sit well with her fans, and upon seeing their reaction, instead of apologizing, she doubled down by saying that short men shouldn’t have human rights and that they should look into bone-lengthening surgery.
It’s worth noting that people in Japan can be brutally honest when they’re expressing their opinions on what they find attractive in a potential romantic partner. But calling those who don’t meet your appearance standards less than human was a step in the wrong direction, and her streaming audience strongly disagreed with her — to which she just kept digging, reaffirming her original statement. Unfortunately, things only took a turn for the worse, and the Tekken gamer later apologized in a now-deleted tweet, which was hardly a formal type of apology that became expected in Japan.
Japan recently began licensing pro gamers, which in turn allows professional gaming to be seen more like a real profession. This is a huge huge step in the right direction, considering the rising prominence of esports. Regardless, the Japan Esports Union clearly defined what it means to be a professional gamer, and one of the main defining points is self-awareness and being professional — which Tanukana clearly wasn’t. The Tekken-playing streamer later issued a formal apology to the fans and the team’s sponsors, Alienware and Red Bull. Cyclops Athlete Gaming also issued their own apology to fans, and then subsequently terminated Tanukana’s contract.
The gaming world is littered with controversy, ranging from companies that engage in various forms of misconduct online to gamers whose video editing skills would make Hollywood blush. But gaming teams need sponsors, and sponsors dislike controversy, no matter how blown out of proportion things may seem. And being good at Tekken doesn’t exempt you from being a decent human being.