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CODE OF CONDUCT

Game the Systems Code of Conduct


ARTICLE 1 - SCOPE & APPLICATION


1.1 All Participants are automatically bound by and required to comply with all of the provisions of the Code of Conduct. Participants shall be deemed to have agreed:


1.1.1 That it is their personal responsibility to familiarise themselves with all of the requirements of the Code of Conduct which the Event Organizer is a signatory to, including what conduct constitutes an offense under this Code of Conduct;


1.1.2 All decisions made by the joint communication and processes of the Disciplinary Panel are final and agreed upon to be respected by Participants and Event Organizers.


1.2 Without prejudice to Articles 1.1 and 1.2, Code of Conduct signatories shall be responsible for promoting Code of Conduct awareness and education amongst Participants; in particular Players and Player Support Personnel.


1.3 It is acknowledged that certain Participants may also be subject to other rules of organizations that govern discipline and/or conduct, and that the same conduct of such Participants may implicate not only the Code of Conduct but also such other rules that may apply. For the avoidance of any doubt, Participants acknowledge and agree that: (a) the Code of Conduct is not intended to limit the responsibilities of any Participant under such other rules; and (b) nothing in such other rules shall be capable of removing, superseding or amending in any way the jurisdiction of the ruling parties to determine matters properly arising pursuant to the Code of Conduct.


1.4 The Code of Conduct Investigations Panels are not bound by legal standards of proof and evidence, thus any decisions made by the Investigation Panel are not meant to replace, emulate, or be held equivalent to decisions of the law. If a person has been accused of a punishable offense within our system, that does not mean they have been accused of breaking the law. If the Investigations Panel find a person to have committed a punishable offense, the decision is not equivalent to a legal ruling. For more information, please consult Articles 3.1, 6.1, & 6.2.



ARTICLE 2 – OFFENSES


The conduct described in Articles 2.1 – 2.4, if committed by a Participant shall amount to an offense by such Participant under the Code of Conduct.


Comment: Where considered helpful, guidance notes have been provided in text boxes beneath the description of a particular offense. Such notes are intended only to provide guidance as to the nature and examples of certain conduct that might be prohibited by a particular Article and should not be read as an exhaustive or limiting list of conduct prohibited by such Article.




2.1 Level 1 Offenses:


2.1.1 Abuse of gaming equipment/hardware or facilities provided for a Match or Event by a Member. For the avoidance of any doubt, there shall be no requirement that the Match Referee must first provide a warning to the offending person before a breach of this Article can be established.


Note: Article 2.1.1 includes any action(s) outside the course of Game play actions, such as deliberately breaking, attempting to break, hitting or kicking equipment, furnishings, facilities, advertising boards or other fixtures.

2.1.2 Breach of Event clothing, equipment, commercial or media obligations during a Match or Event. As legal codes governing obscenity, pornography, and freedom of expression vary from state to state, TO discretion will be strongly encouraged for enforcement of this rule.


Note: For clarity, this is not intended to punish trivial behavior or attempts at cosplay in good faith. Examples of breaches to this rule include clothing, outfits, or outerwear intended to produce an offended response or targeting individuals. Political clothing or symbols are generally discouraged but will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


2.1.3 Serious attacks on character made in response to an incident occurring at a Match or Event involving either Organizer, Staff, or Player, irrespective of when during the event such comments are made.


2.1.4 Inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between Players and/or Player Support Personnel and/or Officials during a Match or Event.


2.1.5 Behaving in a threatening manner or advancing towards another Participant or Official in an aggressive manner during a Match or Event.


2.1.6 Deliberate and malicious obstruction of another Participant during a Match.


2.1.7 Using language or gesture(s) that are seriously obscene, seriously offensive or of a seriously insulting nature to another Participant, Organizer, or any other third person during a Match or Event, especially when there is a previously demonstrated trend of offensive behavior.


Note: It is acknowledged that there may be heated verbal exchanges between Participants in the course of an Event. Rather than seeking to eliminate these exchanges entirely, Match Referees are required to deal with or report such conduct that falls below an acceptable standard. This offense is not intended to penalize trivial behavior. When assessing the seriousness of the breach, the Match Referee or relevant official shall be required to take into account the context of the particular situation and whether the words or gesture are likely to: (a) be regarded as seriously obscene; or (b) give serious offense; or (c) seriously insult another person. This category is specifically to cover directed, malicious hate speech (especially regarding sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, or religion). Previous history of behavior, including slurs or language used in online interactions, will be strongly considered in this offense.


2.1.8 Any attempt to manipulate a Match for inappropriate strategic or tactical reasons.


2.1.9 Generalized (non-targeted), unwanted sexual attention. This includes unwelcome and contextually inappropriate sexualized comments and jokes directed at another Participant at an Event or Match. 


2.1.10 Openly advocating for, or encouraging, any of the offenses included in this section of the Code of Conduct.


2.2 Level 2 Offenses


2.2.1 Directed and malicious intimidation, harassment, or bullying of any Participant whether by language or conduct.


2.2.2 Threat of assault on another Participant or any other person (including a spectator) during a Match or Event.


2.2.3 Panelists or Signatories disclosing confidential information, such as, the ban list or details of the cases. 


2.2.4 Posting or releasing of the personal & publicly available information of a community member, including but not limited to: full name, social media or Twitch handles, or email addresses, with the ill-faith intention of starting a malicious or targeted attack of that person.


2.2.5 Unwanted sexual advances. This includes physical, directed actions AND targeted online behavior, especially when there is a previously demonstrated trend of offensive behavior.


Note: Previous history of behavior, including behavior used in online interactions, will be strongly considered in this offense. Sexual assault and Stalking (repeated non-consensual communications intended to cause intimidation or fear) are covered in Level 3 offenses.


2.2.6 Openly advocating for, or encouraging, any of the offenses included in this section of the Code of Conduct.


2.3 Level 3 Offenses


2.3.1 Physical assault of another Participant, or any other person (including a spectator) during a Match or Event.


2.3.2 Any unreasonable and/or intentional act of violence in the Match or Event environment (including any hotel or other accommodation where more than one Player or Team is staying during or immediately on either side of an Event).


2.3.3 Repeated unwanted and unwelcome advances of another Participant primarily through online means.


Note: This includes, but is not limited to: Creation of multiple social media accounts to harass the victim, malicious gossip with the intent of manipulating the victim’s social circle, defamation of character, and distribution of graphic, unsolicited imagery or videos to shock, offend, or humiliate the victim.


2.3.4 Sexual Misconduct towards another Participant at an Event or Match.


Note:  Sexual Misconduct includes, but is not limited to: Fondling or unwanted sexual touching; groping, sexual exposure, or any ordinarily non-sexualized behavior performed with an explicit sexual suggestion in a coercive setting.


2.3.5 Doxing, that is, posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information, especially as a way to escalate or continue harassment. This includes, but is not limited to, information not publicly available such as the victim’s address, Social Security or Identification number, or Vehicle/license plate information.


2.3.6 Openly advocating for, or encouraging, any of the offenses included in this section of the Code of Conduct.


2.4 Level 4 Offenses


2.4.1 Physical assault resulting in serious bodily harm of another person. An assault resulting in hospitalization is always considered a level 4 offense.

2.4.2 Stalking, or repeated non-consensual communications intended to cause intimidation or fear, both outside and including a Match or Event.


2.4.3 Sexual Assault of another Participant at an Event or Match.


Note: Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or forced masturbation; penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape, and drug-facilitated molestation.


2.4.4 Being an accomplice to, or playing party to, any of the offenses included in this section of the Code of Conduct.


2.5 Other Extenuating Circumstances that Affect Punishment of Offenses


2.5.1 An Offense involving a Minor. Any infraction committed against a minor will, in most cases, receive the maximum possible punishment at that level.


Note: This clause is intended to cover adult members of the community committing offenses towards minors. In the event that the offender is within a reasonably close period of age to a legally defined minor, leniency may be applied.


2.5.2 An Offense involving Abuse of Power. When a notable power difference exists between offender and victim and is leveraged, especially in official capacities (e.g., tournament organizer and spectator or player), the offense may warrant escalation up to a maximum at that level. 


Note: Power differentials are highly contextual. In the course of determining whether this circumstance exists, context will be heavily considered. For example, a top 20 player may have pull over the international community and most abuses are then inherently situated in a power differential. On the other hand, a top player from a small collegiate community may only have pull over their local scene, thus an abuse in the local scene is more likely to involve a power difference while an abuse at an international event may not.


2.5.3 Past History of Offenses. For all offenses, past history of offenses as well as online behavior will be considered in punishment and may warrant escalation.


2.5.4 Community Status. For Level 1-4 offenses reviewed by the Disciplinary Panel, any offense occurring between two community members (who are regular attending members of local or national-level Events) may fall under scrutiny, even if it takes place outside a community Event.

2.5.5 A person accused of committing a level 4 offense need not commit that offense towards a member of the community; offending behavior outside the context of the Smash community will be admitted into discussion regarding their attendance eligibility.


ARTICLE 3 - REPORTING AN ALLEGED OFFENSE


The following information is intended to give Players and Organizers an understanding of the methods by which violations of the above rules should be reported and to whom.


3.1 The following methods of reporting will be made available to the public, and Organizers will be responsible for keeping information on them for those who inquire: A shared email address for review by the Disciplinary Panel, a Google Form to report incidents and include full details of information, and national hotline information for crisis cases.


Note: While the Disciplinary Panel is committed to a strong system of reporting offenses and a consistent method of protecting community members, it is not a legal body nor a crisis center, and urgent or severe cases that may be in violation of state or federal law will be referred to local law enforcement and/or to national crisis counseling.


3.2 Level 2 and Level 3 offenses, as enumerated in Articles 2.2 and 2.3, have a statute of limitations on reporting of 6 and 12 months, respectively. That statute of limitations begins from the date of the alleged offense as supported by evidence or as circumstances allow.


3.2.1 Level 4 offenses have no statute of limitations.


3.3 Official reports are expected to be submitted via the publicly available Google Form. Inquiries about the process or about the help the victim can receive should go through the publicly available email address, and inquiries made in good faith will count towards extending the statute of limitations on a case-by-case basis.


3.4 Reports can be submitted by eyewitnesses or on a victim’s behalf, however no anonymous reports will be considered for disciplinary procedure. Anonymous reports will be compiled and retained as evidence in case of future reports, but no action will be taken on them.


ARTICLE 4 - NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE


4.1 Once an official report has been submitted, the Disciplinary Panel will acknowledge receipt of the report within one week. Anonymous reports will be logged internally and identifiable reports will be alerted to the next step in the disciplinary procedure


4.2 When a report has been closed and a disciplinary ruling determined, the Disciplinary Panel will have one week to notify the submitter of the original report the actions taken, if any.


4.3 In the event that a member of the community receives a partial suspension or ban from the community, they will be discreetly notified of the cause and terms of their suspension within one week of the final ruling. On the first of every month, signatories to the Code of Conduct will receive an email notifying them of any rulings made in the previous month, as well as an up-to-date banlist for events.


4.4 While official reports must be identifiable, the victimized party will be given the choice to remain anonymous prior to the public announcement of a suspension or ban. The choice to remain anonymous to the public is the victim’s alone, as is the decision to release any details of the accusation to the public.


4.5 The Disciplinary Panel is not responsible for informing the public of details regarding the accusation or investigation in the event of a disciplinary ruling, however signatories to the Code of Conduct may request a brief report by email. Reports will be given out on a case-by-case basis. Preference will be given to signatories running an event for whom a banned player is attempting to attend. If the victim has chosen to remain anonymous, the report will have identifying information redacted.


ARTICLE 5 - THE DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE


This section of the Code of Conduct is intended to describe the process by which official reports will be investigated and acted upon once they have been received and the reporting party notified that the investigation has begun.


5.1 Upon enactment of this Code of Conduct, a group of community representatives will be selected by the Disciplinary Panel to serve as possible candidates for Investigation and Appeals panels. Signatories are encouraged to recommend dedicated individuals to the panel for inclusion to the candidate list. The number of total candidates will be adjusted based on workload. 


5.1.1 All selected panelists will have a term limit of seven cases to preside over, at which point the Disciplinary Panel will reassess a renewal of their panelist status.

5.1.2 In the event that either the Disciplinary Panel or the 5 wish to remove a panelist from the list of candidates, they may do so with a simple majority vote. If this vote occurs while that panelist is presiding over a case, the alternate will step in. In the event no alternates are available, a member of the Disciplinary Panel will step in to preside over the remainder of the case.


5.2 When a report is received and opened for investigation by the Disciplinary Panel, the Panel will assign the case to a select group from the Candidate List based on the severity of the case and the availability of the candidates. This initial group, which will number no fewer than 3 and no more than seven of the total candidates, will form the Investigation Panel, and any selected candidates cannot serve on the Appeals Panel for the case, should an appeal be made.

5.2.1 Candidates may be assigned to or excluded from a case in the event of a conflict of interest or at the candidate’s request. Conflicts of interest may include but are not limited to: an ongoing or past significant personal relationship with the reporter or reported party, an existing outspoken opinion for or against the specific case, etc.


5.2.2 In addition to Candidates assigned to the Investigation Panel directly, two alternates will be randomly chosen in the event of a conflict of interest or scheduling. These alternates will not have access to the case information unless an Investigation Panel member steps down, but will be informed of their alternate status.


5.3 When the Complainant is notified their report has been received, they will be informed of the members of the Investigation Panel assigned to their report. They will then be given the opportunity to disclose any concerns or conflicts of interests rising from the candidates assigned to their case.


5.4 When the Complainant has been notified that their report has been received and is awaiting action, the Investigation Panel will work together with the Complainant to schedule a hearing to discuss details of their report with the entire Investigation Panel of the case. This hearing date is the deadline for submitting any evidence related to the case. This hearing should occur within 2 - 4 weeks of the initial report.


5.5 Once the Complainant has scheduled the hearing, the Accused will be notified that a report has been brought against them and that the Investigation Panel has opened a case. They will be notified of the members of the Investigation Panel for their case, given the opportunity to disclose any conflicts of interest with those panel members, and given a choice of dates and times to have a hearing to offer a defense. This hearing must occur after the hearing for the Complainant takes place. The Accused will be notified of the identity of their accuser, the infraction they are accused of committing, and the date of occurence when notified of the hearing, but will not hear full details of the report until they have given an initial testimony at their hearing date and time.


5.5.1 Once the Accused has been notified of the investigation, any communication between them and the Complainant can and will be used against them in their hearing. The Disciplinary Panel will advise all parties to refrain from contact with one another until the conclusion of the proceeding.


5.6 After the hearing dates for both parties have passed, the Investigation Panel will have two weeks to deliberate on the proper course of action as outlined in article 7 of this document. The decision of the Investigation Panel will be given to the Disciplinary Panel at the conclusion of the deliberation. Panel members will be asked to refrain from public statements until after the Disciplinary Panel informs signatories of the results of the investigation.


5.7 Once a ruling has been determined, both Complainant and Accused will be notified as per the methods in Article 4 of this document (that is, within a week.)

5.8 Every Investigations or Appeals Panel will have an accordant Supervisor assigned as a reference. The Supervisor will be chosen from members of the Disciplinary Panel, and will act in an administrative role by organizing schedules and clarifying Code of Conduct rules and procedures, thus expediting the decision-making process.


ARTICLE 6 - STANDARD OF PROOF AND EVIDENCE


6.1 Unless otherwise described herein, the standard of proof in all cases brought under the Code of Conduct shall be whether the Disciplinary Panels are comfortably satisfied, bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation that is made, that the alleged offense has been committed. This standard of proof in all cases shall be determined on a sliding scale from, at a minimum, a mere balance of probability (for the least serious offenses) up to close to, but not as high as, proof beyond a reasonable doubt (for the most serious offenses).


6.2 The ruling parties shall not be bound by judicial rules governing the admissibility of evidence. Instead, facts relating to an offense committed under the Code of Conduct may be established by any reliable means, including admissions of guilt.


6.3 The ruling parties may draw an inference adverse to the Accused who is asserted to have committed an offense under the Code of Conduct based on their refusal, without compelling justification, after a request made in a reasonable time in advance of the hearing, to appear at the hearing and/or to answer any relevant questions.



ARTICLE 7 - SANCTIONS ON PARTICIPANTS


7.1 Where the Investigation or Appeals Panel determines that an offense under the Code of Conduct has been committed, they will be required to impose an appropriate sanction on the Participant.

7.1.1 At the conclusion of the Investigation, two votes must take place. First is a vote to determine whether or not a punishable offense has been committed. This must be a unanimous vote. If this vote passes, then further deliberation should occur prior to the second vote. The second vote determines what level of offense has been committed and what sanctions should be applied. This vote must be at least a simple majority, however in the event of a 2-1 split, or equivalent, for larger panels, the Supervisor must levy a vote to swing the vote to a larger majority. In the event the Supervisor does not agree with the majority, further deliberation will be required to reach a conclusion.


7.2 The Investigation or Appeals Panel shall take into account any other factors that they deem relevant and appropriate to the mitigation or escalation of the nature of the Code of Conduct offense (including, without limitation, the nature and frequency of any previous offenses under the Code of Conduct) before determining, in accordance with the following table, what the appropriate sanction(s) should be:



Level of Offense

Range of Sanctions (1st Offense)

Range of Sanctions (2nd Offense)

Range of Sanctions (3rd Offense)

Range of Sanctions (4th Offense)

Level 1

(Suggested punishment for TOs)

A verbal warning, including an  explanation of the offense

A documented warning to the Disciplinary Panel, including explanation of the offense and any corrective actions taken.

Up to a 5-event suspension, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Up a 6-month suspension from events.

Level 2

Up to a 6-month suspension from all Signatory Events.

Up to a 1-year suspension from all Signatory Events.

Between a 6-month and 2-year suspension from all Signatory Events

Up to a lifetime ban from all Signatory Events

Level 3

Up to a 2 year suspension from all Signatory Events

Up to a lifetime ban from all Signatory Events

A lifetime ban from all Signatory Events

n/a

Level 4

Up to a lifetime ban from all Signatory Events

A lifetime ban from all Signatory Events

n/a

n/a



7.3 For the avoidance of any doubt:


7.3.1 The Investigation or Appeals Panel will have jurisdiction to adjust, reverse or amend the results of any sanctions where appropriate in their absolute discretion;


7.3.2 Where the Accused is found guilty of committing two separate Code of Conduct offenses that do not relate to the same incident or set of circumstances and is reported separately for each offense, then any sanctions should run cumulatively (and not concurrently);


7.3.3 Where the Accused is found guilty of committing two Code of Conduct offenses in relation to the same incident or set of circumstances and is reported separately, then any sanctions imposed should run concurrently (and not cumulatively);


7.3.4 Nothing in this Code of Conduct shall permit plea bargaining in relation to any alleged offense committed under this Code of Conduct;


7.3.5 Where the Investigation or Appeals Panel finds the Accused not guilty of the offense, then it remains open to them, at their discretion, to find the Accused guilty of an offense of a lower level than that with which they have been charged. For example, where the Accused has been charged with (but been found not guilty of) a Level 2 Offense, the ruling parties may, instead, find the Accused guilty of the Level 1 Offense and impose an appropriate sanction.


7.4 Once any period of suspension has expired, the Participant will automatically become re-eligible to participate in Events provided that they have demonstrated an adherence to the sanctions laid out by the Investigation or Appeals Panel, along with any mitigating factors.


7.5 The Investigation or Appeals Panel may, for Level 3 & 4 offenses, require that the Accused undergo some sort of corrective behavior program for the purposes of demonstrating a genuine desire to change their behavior. In the event the Panel has required this, the Accused will be required to demonstrate proof of adherence to such programs; failure to do so will extend their suspension or ban until that requirement is met.



ARTICLE 8 - APPEALS


This article is intended to establish the procedure for and circumstances under which the Accused can appeal the Disciplinary Panel’s decision.


8.1 The Accused may appeal the decision of the Investigation Panel only if new evidence has been brought to the case since the initial ruling was made. The Appeals Panel, as determined for the case by the guidelines set in Article 5, will be responsible for working with the Accused to determine a new date and time for a hearing.


8.2 In the event that the decision is reopened for investigation, the Appeals Panel will alert the Complainant that the case has been reopened and that their input may be required for future deliberations.


8.3 Any new evidence which may bring to light the innocence of the Accused has a statute of limitations of the duration of their initial suspension or ban.


8.4 In the event that the original ruling is overturned by the Appeals Panel, signatories will be notified of the circumstances regarding the reversal and the rollback of the suspension. The circumstances of appeals and investigations will be recorded and used in the event of future reports.


8.5 Because the Disciplinary Committee does not typically handle Level 1 offenses, they cannot in most cases be appealed to the Committee.


ARTICLE 9 - RECOGNITION OF DECISIONS


9.1 Any sanctions, hearing results or other final adjudications under the Code of Conduct shall be recognised and respected by all signatories to this Code of Conduct automatically upon receipt of notice of the same, without the need for any further formality.

9.1.1 Signatories to the Code of Conduct are bound to uphold bans or suspensions as determined by the procedures outlined in this document. In the event a signatory wishes to ban someone who has been found not guilty of the offense, they do so under their own responsibility.

9.2 If a signatory wishes to contest the findings of an Appeal Panel decision, they may submit an email complaint to the Disciplinary Panel. If half of the signatories submit a complaint, the details of the case will be turned over to the bodies of the 5, who will have the jurisdiction to make the final decision on the matter.

9.2.1 The same process also occurs if signatories would like a candidate removed from the Candidate List, any changes made to the Code of Conduct, or a member of the Disciplinary Panel removed.

9.2.2 Ultimate jurisdiction over the disciplinary process rests in the hands of the 5 and 25 voting bodies. They have the final say on all decisions resulting from this process.

 

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