eSports Conventions Return: The Redemption of Leading Commentator, D’Ron Maingrette
As the country begins to reopen there is a ton of excitement around the re-emergence of onsite events and actual human interaction. One of the things I am most excited about is that esport events are scheduled to resume in person as soon as later this year with a number of tournaments trying to bring back not only the events but also the opportunity for these close knit communities to reunite. One of the most popular series has consistently been the Super Smash Bros. events which consistently pulled in hundreds and thousands of competitors and fans to their events and were notoriously a fun affair in regard to both the tournament play and the surrounding social events. That’s why when doing some research around the events and trying to see if there were some local events to attend I was taken aback to find numerous articles regarding underage drinking and negativity.
While poking around, I bumped into a statement released this past week from one of the largest names in the community, D’Ron Maingrette, regarding seemingly false allegations that were made against him in a truly sad story as I dug further in. Maingrette was previously the go-to for commentary at the events and even made it into the Wall Street Journal for his involvement when Super Smash Bros players took over Bryant Park but from what I have been able to gather an unfortunate series of events just prior to the COVID-19 surge left him on the “outs” and out of respect to the community he had held publicly addressing the matters until recently.
Maingrette released a detailed and documented accounting of all the events leading up to the accusations made against him and the various notable interactions which for an outside party, the detail and transparency made it much easier to get a full comprehension. The unfortunate reality is that it appears everything surrounding Maingrette and the other parties involved represent everything that the esports community is looking to solve and provide a safe haven against for the participants; bullying, self shame, and reckless drinking. Therefore, I thought I would summarize some of the key failings that I think can serve as a learning opportunity for everyone as humans.
For those that don’t have the time or interest, the incident Maingrette was involved can be summed up in short as boy & girl meet (boy is a community celebrity); everyone drinks excessively and everyone over the age of 18 year old are served alcohol, Maingrette has an intimate encounter and the woman at some point during the evening experiences the byproduct of alcohol poisoning and vomits. The following day the woman is ridiculed and feels she is the “butt of everyone’s joke” and that Maingrette was somehow responsible for teasing her and therefore the source of all of her bullying. As a result, she later claims that the intimate encounter was not consensual and that Maingrette had spread rumors therefore tarnishing her reputation in the community where she felt most accepted. The full accounting of the incident and Maingrette’s open letter to this individual can be found documented in D’Ron Maingrette’s full statement that was shared on Medium. Maingrette also details several other incidents and individuals that sought to gain attention by lodging additional complaints on the back of the incident, but as those were patently false and no one was a victim other than Maingrette.
I think that there are a few lessons that can be learned from this incident that I hope will be kept in mind as the in-person events for the esports community open back up. These are general lessons that I think we can all glean some value and hopefully can avoid the type of emotional pain that both the woman and Maingrette experienced due to this truly tragic event.
There is a reason for a drinking age:
While we may be tempted to provide and condone drinking among underage individuals in the spirit of fun, younger individuals are often times incapable of making mature decisions and overindulgence, therefore inebriation, is almost always the outcome where sound decision making is out the window and health can even be put at risk through alcohol poisoning. The most well known reason for the legal drinking age being set at 21 is due to the effect on the brain for adolescents. Alcohol can have a negative effect on long-term thinking and memory, since the brain is still maturing. There is a greater potential for problems, such as: increased vulnerability to addiction, dangerous risk-tasking, impaired ability to decision making, memory loss, depression, violence, and suicide.
We must always stand for the truth:
Both the woman in question, Maingrette refers to her as “KT” and Maingrette himself became victims of the truth being blurred and the community as a whole not standing up to defend either parties in their time of vulnerability and need. KT seemingly was almost instantly misrepresented and felt personally bullied by the community, Maingrette has the power to stand up and defend her honor by presenting the facts or as a principal figure in the community could have come to her aid but instead showed some cowardice and did nothing. Similarly, KT in a moment of vulnerability sought to redirect the negative attention she was receiving and cast a very strong accusation towards Maingrette who was instantly condemned by the community and quickly was driven to the point of a major depressive episode himself.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right:
It is clear that Maingrette failed in an epic way by not standing up and leveraging his industry celebrity for “good” by swiftly defending the woman after her receiving ridicule and bullying as a result of people seeing her leave the ballroom with Maingrette, this was wrong and a failing on his part. In response, the woman sought to redirect the negative attention she was receiving onto the individual that she viewed as at fault for the salacious rumors and ridicule starting, Maingrette. As a result, both individuals ended up with very much tarnished reputations and facing personal mental turmoil. In the end, neither personally were seeking to bring pain to the other and their intentions were always to protect their own interests but the gamer community as a whole violated one of the core tenants of the community, acceptance.
It was clear reviewing the detail and collection of corroborating accounts that Maingrette spent the better part of the last year speaking with all those involved and collecting their thoughts and documentation around the unfortunate events that lead to Maingrette and the woman he refers to as “KT” reaching truly dark emotional places where self reflection was the only option. There is no doubt, in this reader’s opinion, that the biggest failure here was that the event and those that followed didn’t represent the core ethos of the community which prides itself as a safe place for self expression and support. In this case, it is unfortunate to say that it appears in moments of weakness many at the event in question, chose to cast undiscerning judgement and baseless assaults on fellow gamers mental livelihood. Hopefully, with the reemergence of events in the coming months there can be lessons learned and the community comes back together with a re-instilled sense of support focused on uplifting one another versus ostracizing and casting cruel judgement.