There’s a lot of talk going around right now about whether or not certain outfits could be used during the live broadcasts of Street Fighter V on ESPN 2 during the finals of EVO 2016 on Sunday, July 17th.
Things originally kicked off when FGC regular and EVO 2016 translator Ryan Harvey took to Twitter to explain why one of the characters during the finals, Rainbow Mika, had to stay in her alternate story mode costume, placing the blame on a decision made by ESPN.
Fun fact: Fuudo was required to use the “Story 1” costume after his first match because the default was deemed too revealing by ESPN.
— Ryan Harvey (@fubarduck) July 18, 2016
When pressed further to provide evidence of the claim, Harvey mentioned his role as translator for EVO finalist Ai “Fuudo” Keita, and later stated that he wasn’t going to discuss the matter further…
“I was the Japanese interpreter for SFV and had to explain it to Fuudo. […] I’m proud that ESPN hosted us and would change nothing about the experience. Not interested in discussing referenced thread further. Thanks.”
I did reach out to ESPN to confirm if what Harvey stated was true and whether or not certain outfits from the Street Fighter V cast of characters were prohibited from being used during the broadcast, and ESPN’s press center was quick to respond to curtly state that they would not be providing a comment on the matter.
Of course, some gamers are a bit peeved because they note that women’s beach volleyball and cheerleaders expose just as much skin, and they don’t seem to have any problems broadcasting those images on ESPN. Others feel the move was smart to keep the broadcast family friendly.
You can see in the video below that Fuudo had to maintain using Mika’s story costume while playing against the legendary Korean player, Infiltration, which was broadcast live across ESPN 2 from the Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
R. Mika is no stranger to censorship and controversy. She was also on the receiving end of previous forms of censorship when Capcom had to modify her Critical Arts move and adjust the camera so it wasn’t possible to see when she slaps her butt as a taunt before performing the move.
What’s interesting is that Rainbow Mika’s outfit has mostly stayed the same in Street Fighter V from what it was when she first made her debut in Street Fighter Alpha 3 way back in 1998, almost two decades ago.
You can see what the bodacious and curvy wrestler looked like courtesy of a move list video from DrewTony’Z.
Censorship during e-sports broadcasts is actually becoming a more common thing. Gamers may have noticed that during the Mortal Kombat XL streams on Twitch, they conveniently censored out most of the Fatalities and some of the Brutalities, usually they would cut away or only cut back to the Finishers when they were complete.
If the way forward for making e-sports more mainstream means more censorship of favorite games and characters, I do wonder what that means for the future of the gaming industry?
Censoring out Mortal Kombat’s violence and gore strips away a core element of the brand’s identity, and it makes you wonder if they’ll be able to retain their core audience if they start to remove the gore as a way to please advertisers and broadcasters?
In the case of Street Fighter, I wonder if Capcom will reevaluate how they roll out costumes, making more conservative outfits in the future to be “e-sports ready”? Or will things simply go the route of Dead or Alive, where tournament organizers restrict certain costumes from being used during a tournament’s broadcast?
We’ll likely find out soon enough if ESPN decides to dip their toes back into the FGC’s e-sports scene and what sort of restrictions come along with that.
(Main image courtesy of memnoh)