tw: mentions rape, sexual assault/non-graphic

Last week began a string of rape and sexual assault allegations, primarily from female streamers, against various figures on the Twitch platform and in the gaming community.

The NYT reported that there were more than 70 streamers who came forward to tell their story, but twitter user @jessyquil has documented over 200 accounts of sexual assault, rape, harassment, or racism in the industry. While the majority of the accused are streamers, others were from companies such as Riot Games, Ubisoft, and Omeed.

To this hour, stories are still being told, and patterns are being revealed. This isn’t a coordinated attack or something that is just happening. This has been an issue since the dawn of time, made worse by the internet and gaming as it is today. However, enough is enough. While brand sponsors such as AverMedia Gaming were quick to give consequences to the accused, there are others who are still waiting for some kind of a statement from Ubisoft. Omeed’s co-founder ended up stepping down, but most called that to be an empty gesture since his partner operates as another exec in the company.

Why Twitch Is At The Center Of The Gaming Controversy

The root of the problem seems to be from Twitch itself. Despite claims that they do not condone behavior such as racism and sexual misconduct, and promises to do something about it, the streaming platform has proved to be all words and no action. In solidarity with the victims of these heinous crimes, gaming Twitter has enacted a TWITCH BLACKOUT, which is supposed to take place all day on Wednesday, June 24.

The digital protest aims to draw attention to Twitch’s history of non-action when it comes to violations of their TOS. There is still no filter that blocks variations of racial slur from usernames, the reporting system usually results in delayed action or a simple slap of the wrist, there is an unfairness in punishment depending on your follower and sub count, and most recently Twitch has been called out for the lack of diversity in their front page spotlights. The company responded on Monday, but it did nothing but draw further criticisms;

“As many of you are aware, over the weekend people from across the gaming industry came forward to share their accounts of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault. Some of these accounts named Twitch-affiliated individuals, including Partners, Affiliates, business partners, and others. I want to assure you all that we are looking into all the incidents and will be taking action and cooperating with law enforcement. Actions may include banning, removing partnership, or removing people from promotional opportunities and activations if we have concerns based on credible accusations and their historical behavior on Twitch.” – CEO Emmett Shear.

Sure, protests can be effective, but as we have learned with Twitter and Facebook blackouts, it doesn’t really move the needle in an effective way. So how can #TwitchBlackout be as loud as it can be?

HIT EM’ IN THE POCKETS

TWITCH BLACKOUT
Twitch CEO, Emmett Shear

Twitch Affiliate and Twitch Partners earn revenue on Twitch through donations (dubbed as bits), advertising revenue, and subscriptions that are separated into three tiers; $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99. You can also use your Amazon Prime account for a free Tier 1 subscription. Streamers and Twitch split the subscription revenue 50/50 although some Partners can negotiate 60/40. There are a number of streamers who just cannot afford to miss even a day of streaming.

We are still in a pandemic and most Partners have quit their full time jobs to pursue streaming as a career. Consistency is key when it comes to being a streamer, and there have even been stories of people losing at least 10% of their follower/viewer count if they decide to take a week vacation. There are also sponsorship agreements that cannot be broken. Longtime Twitch and Mixer stream @itsyoshh who has been a vocal ally proposed a solution that wouldn’t hurt the streamer, but may get Twitch to finally take action.

There are already streamers discussing ways they could potentially start up their own streaming platform, or ways to not be so dependent on Twitch when it comes to their brand. If you don’t have a paypal account or patreon set up then I would set one up as soon as possible. Hopefully, Twitch will take notice, and realize that their moneymakers are not all scumbags. Their biggest market are the ones calling for change, and should they do nothing then they will find themselves suffering Mixer’s fate.

How do you feel about the current situation in the gaming community? Will you be supporting the blackout or cancelling subscriptions? Let us know in the comments below.