The bodysuit Cammy has been wearing for 24 years apparently doesn’t comply with the network’s standards and practices.
When video game developer Capcom revealed Cammy as one of the playable characters in Street Fighter V, a bit of a firestorm flared up as some gamers went to far as to call the British martial artist “shockingly ugly,” particularly when judged against her appearance in previous installments of the franchise. Now Cammy is stirring up controversy again, but this time it’s not that some people think the character design is too ugly, but too sexually provocative.
During last weekend’s Evo 2017 e-sports tournament in Las Vegas, Japanese competitor Ryota Inoue (who competes under the mononym Kazunoko) advanced, on the strength of his Cammy play, to the Street Fighter V finals, where he found himself paired against American player Du Dang, also known as NuckleDu.
Like many fighting games, Street Fighter V allows players to pick from multiple costumes for each character. For his first match against NuckleDu, Kazunoko selected Cammy’s default outfit: a form-fitting green bodysuit cut high on the hips, which has been the character’s signature outfit since her debut in Super Street Fighter II way back in 1993.
▼ Cammy’s default costume
▼ Kazunoko’s first Street Fighter V finals match
Kazunoko took the first match handily in two rounds. For their second match, both competitors chose to continue playing as the same characters, but Kazunoko was now playing as Cammy in her Capcom Pro Tour costume, which swaps her bodysuit for a short-hemmed, but comparatively modest, formal dress, as seen when the video below starts.
There’s no superstition among pro gamers about using the same costume twice in a row being bad luck, nor do Street Fighter V’s outfits affect the gameplay in any way. So if Kazunoko didn’t change Cammy’s costume to gain some sort of psychological or technical advantage, why did he bother?
Just before the second match starts, at the 7:06 mark of the above video, a tournament official can be seen speaking with Kazunoko. The gamer looks puzzled as the official fiddles with his controller before giving a nod of acquiescence and holding up a hand in the “OK” gesture. According to competitive gaming website Compete, the discussion took place because cable sports network ESPN, which was broadcasting Evo 2017’s Street Fighter V finals, was uncomfortable showing Cammy in her default outfit, and so “The request was made per broadcast standards.”
While Cammy’s standard bodysuit does indeed show a lot of skin, critics of ESPN’s request assert that the same could be said of the clothing worn by real-world female athletes in certain sports. However, since Cammy is a purely digital construction whose movement isn’t restricted or slowed by additional fabric, one could also argue that there’s no performance-based reason the character can’t cover up.
As e-sports continue to grow, they’re attracting the attention of entities outside the traditional linked circles of video game developers and fans. With that greater exposure comes increased investment and revenue, helping events like Evo grow to scales far beyond what would have been possible in the past, but connecting to more mainstream strata of media and its users means a new set of attitudes and values to mesh with, and this may not be the last time ESPN, or another organization of its ilk, takes issue with something many hard-core gamers have grown accustomed to seeing over the course of 20-plus years.