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“So what happened, he ****ed a 15-year-old, they had consensual sex, yes, that’s what happened,” William “Trulliam” Truong stated, rather matter-of-factly on his stream. “Okay, that’s the story. Is it not good? It is against the law, yes, and that’s what sexual interference was.”
On September 24th, Trulliam ranted on his Twitch stream about charges that Vikram “Nightmare” Bassi, a fellow Canadian and Super Smash Bros. Melee player, had been convicted of. Nightmare’s proclivity for minors was something of an open secret amongst Canadian smashers. It was talked about, joked about and defended by friends of the player. To make matters worse, when the rest of the community started to catch wind of this, we still let it pass and fester for months before any bans were put into place.
So how did we get here? How did we, as a community, let this happen?
On July 12th, 2018, Josh “Roboticphish” Kassel, a member of the Harassment Task Force, made a public post about potential legal threats to their mission. These threats came from a player who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor. At the time of posting, there were some rumblings that this may be referring to the Canadian Marth player Nightmare, but there wasn’t much evidence to support the claims. This changed drastically on July 16th, when Nightmare posted a “legal document” on his Twitter. This document identified Nightmare as the accused party and attempted to dismiss the charges, but it did so in an oddly specific manner that led many to question both its validity and the underlying message.
Between July 16th and September 24th, when Trulliam let it slip on stream that the allegations were true, Nightmare continued to compete at local tournaments in Ontario. He was even allowed to play at Dreamhack Montreal, under the condition that none of his games would be played on stream. Organizations like Even Matchup Gaming and Player5, Nightmare’s current sponsor, continued to support Nightmare while knowing full well that these allegations were out there.
This should have all been over on July 16th. This should have been the end of the discussion, and a ban should have been handed out, but it wasn’t. This is largely because of people like Trulliam. Trulliam knew the truth; he knew that Nightmare was convicted of sexual interference. (Sexual interference is a legal term exclusive to Canada that describes a person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.) But rather than admit the truth, he actively enabled and supported a convicted pedophile.
It goes beyond just Trulliam and other Ontario players like Ryan Ford though. Even Matchup Gaming finally released a statement indefinitely banning Nightmare from future events, but where were they through July and August? Are we really supposed to applaud an action that came two months late, an action that only came because it was going to hurt business if they didn’t do something? Even Alex Jebailey’s agreement for Dreamhack Montreal was a half-***** effort to find a middle ground that, frankly, doesn’t exist in this type of situation. This issue is bigger than just organizations and a few twisted players though. Are we, as a community, really so concerned with our grassroots origins and our ability to be “non-esports” that we’re willing to let literal pedophiles off the hook?
There’s no room for growth as a community if we continue to place the interests of people like Trulliam, Ryan Ford and Nightmare over the safety of all of our players. This community wants to talk about how we can make it friendlier to women, how we can attract new players from all over the globe and of all ages, but we can’t even come together and agree that being a convicted pedophile is a bannable offense. We shouldn’t be happy that Nightmare was banned. We should be disappointed in ourselves, and the community at large, for letting this go on for so long.
But hey, don’t let me get you down, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for retweeting that anti-pedophilia tweet your favorite top player posted two days after Trulliam slipped up. With the way the Melee community has shown itself to operate, I’m sure we’ll never find ourselves in a similar situation in the future. Just remember that while you and I may have the privilege of looking at this situation through screens from miles away, there are very real victims that will feel the lasting impact of Nightmare’s actions for the rest of their lives. Emily “emilywaves” Sun was kind enough to share a portion of the victim’s impact statement from Nightmare’s case on Twitter, and I think it’s worth reading, if only to serve as a reminder that this isn’t just about the competitive nature of a kid’s party game—it’s about real people and their effect on others around them.
We can learn and grow from this situation. We can be so much better than this. I know we can, because we have to be.