Toxicity roundup: Overwatch troll, Fortnite pro fired, Division modder ban, HOTS’s voice chat, and Twitch’s new anti-hate rules

When the toxicity topics just keep piling up in the news room and nobody wants to cover them, you get the Toxicity Roundup, your weekly report on who’s being a jerk in gaming this week! (We’re kidding. This is not really a thing. We don’t really want this to be a thing. Please don’t make this a thing.)

Let’s start with Overwatch. Kotaku has a report out on a stream sniper who was hassling popular streamer TimTheTatMan. The troll would show up in the streamer’s matches, refuse to play anything but Symmetra, and proceed to suck – meaning the team always lost. Apparently, TimTheTatMan wasn’t the only person this jerk had griefed. “To be clear this player is being banned, not for their hero choice, but rather for systematically ruining Overwatch games for thousands of players,” Blizzard wrote on Reddit. “We recognize that not finding this player faster is an unfortunate failure of our ever-developing reporting system and we’ve already taken steps to quickly eliminate outliers like this in the future.” So one down, how many more to go?

What else have we got here…

In Fortnite, it was a Twitch streamer who was given ye olde banhammer. Pro Fortnite player Jordan “Scubby” Selleck was booted from Twitch for bragging about daring people to commit suicide and calling anxiety “fake,” in the context of streamer discussing her suicidal thoughts. He was also dropped from his e-sports team, HavoK Esports. Twitch told Kotaku that it was serious about stopping the “promotion of content that can lead to suicide or self harm, which includes mitigating the risk of an individual being exposed to negative encouragement.”

In The Division, a prominent modder has been banned. Finnish gamer Matti Hietanen was well-known in the community for developing and recently re-optimizing a set of camera tools for the game that strip the HUD, free the camera angle, and tinker with depth of field – meaning truly gorgeous screenshots that attracted the attention of actual photographers who use the tool to document the game. Alas, Hietanen announced this week that he’d been banned, he believes because his tool relies on Cheat Engine, which can be used for nefarious purposes. A “perfect example of someone getting burned because a publisher is more concerned with upholding the letter of the law rather than thinking about its spirit,” one commenter put it.

Kotaku has another report out on Heroes of the Storm. The game is several years old at this point, and it’s finally getting voice chat like Blizzard’s other games. But that has some gamers and streamers deeply concerned; up until now, the community has been relatively free of the harassment that occurs in other online games’ voice chat, particularly in MOBAs and shooters toward women, kids, or anybody with the wrong accent. Voice chat, they’re pretty sure, is going to ruin all that. And unfortunately, they’re probably right.

Finally, let’s look at something more positive: Somebody doing something about the problem. That somebody would be Twitch, which this week announced new community guidelines that block sexual content as well as harassment and hateful conduct. A representative told Polygon that means “any content or activity that promotes, encourages, or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment, or violence,” which is to say, harassment relating to race, ethnicity, or national origin; religion; sex, gender, or gender identity; sexual orientation; age; disability or medical condition; physical characteristics; and veteran status. Moreover, Twitch said that while it won’t be proactively monitoring other social platforms, it will take into account reports of toxic activity in spaces like YouTube, Discord, and Twitter when specifically reported by gamers. Will it work? Guess we’ll see.

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96 Comments on "Toxicity roundup: Overwatch troll, Fortnite pro fired, Division modder ban, HOTS’s voice chat, and Twitch’s new anti-hate rules"

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Wolfyseyes

Let’s repeat for the people in the back and nice and loud for those with fingers in their ears:

Freedom of speech does not equal avoidance of consequence. You are absolutely allowed to say vile, hateful, bigoted, sexist things all your twisted little face desires. You are NOT, however, free from facing retaliation or consequences or shutdown or shut-out from public platforms for doing so.

This isn’t a war against speech. It’s a war against being intentionally, flagrantly dickheaded for some perceived internet points amongst your horrible little peers.

Or, TL;DR for your failed little attention spans: Enough. Is. Enough.

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Utakata

/Feature please! <3

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Arktouros

I think the part people dislike most about this is not about freedom of speech or avoidance of consequence but rather that a tech company should remain neutral to the content that appears on it’s platform to a certain extent. For example, no one is going to argue about them if they ban some guy with a Nazi flag spewing hate speech. However going after a particular streamer who puts on a sort of character act or occasionally does something stupid can seem a bit much.

While, certainly, they own that platform and they are 100% in their rights to control whatever content they wish on said platform I think it’s a debatable topic to what extent they should control content on their platform.

And, as Bree said below, if they want to exert too much control that creates a situation where there’s now a market for a service that doesn’t exert that kind of control over their content platform. So in that sense, some good may come from all this.

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Leiloni

I think when your platform(s) (including Youtube, etc. here) grows so big as to be the primary tool for a certain method of communication for people, you have a certain responsibility to the public to manage it fairly. We’re at a point now where so much of what we consider to be “communication” is privately owned – Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, etc. That’s the vast majority of online communication which is a large portion of of communication in general unfortunately. At that point it goes beyond what those companies want for themselves, and becomes a need for what’s best – and legal – for the country at large.

Because the stakes are just too high. People already get banned from those sites for things that are otherwise perfectly legal, just not approved by the site owners. There aren’t any large enough platforms for them to go to where they’ll get their word out in an equally large and meaningful way. They’re effectively silencing those they disagree with. It’s just the tip of the iceberg IMO.

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Tanek

So, in this view, anything that is not specifically illegal should be allowed? Or are there other lines that would be drawn? What about allowing advertising? Same rule, or different?

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Leiloni

I don’t really have a problem with online ads right now, although I have an ad blocker so I don’t see them usually. Is there a debate about those other than people just not liking them?

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Tanek

I meant advertising on videos that are not illegal, but are the type of things being banned. If, in the scenario you outline, someone is allowed to post anything short of illegal, should that also apply to being able to monetize it.

(side note: hopefully you have MassivelyOP as an exception on that ad blocker. ;) )

Siphaed
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Siphaed

No, it’s not debatable at all. As you said, it’s their platform, their control of the content and it’s exposure. Whatever shows on their platform is a representation of their company. If they don’t want assholes “playing a bit” on their platform, it is their final say to ban said people from there.

Here’s a great example. Escapist Magazine was/is an online site for videogame and pop culture news. There were some controversies surrounding some of their content as well as some content creators leaving due to inability to speak their own opinions without being edited. Jim Sterling for example started his own site, content providing, etc. Now…..The Escapist is almost all but dead. The only actual activity is Zero Punctuation by Yahzee on Wednesdays. That is literally it.

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Arktouros

Lets reframe this discussion on why this is debatable by comparing it to another topic.

It’s 100% within companies control over their content, and their exposure to use lockboxes or any business model within their games. Yet people constantly rail and rally against their use in gaming as predatory and harmful. When people like that are told it’s their company’s decision we in turn hear about how the people complaining are just exercising their right to complain against a system they see as unjust or unfair and wish to change which they can only do by expressing themselves.

Yet here we have the exact same scenario, a company making a decision that some people dislike, and now it’s suddenly “not debatable” and it’s “their platform, their control of it’s content.”

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Utakata

It’s done on a private company’s time and their dime. So if the players do the crime, they get to do the time. And how that does nicely rhyme. <3

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Arktouros

The greater point being is that this isn’t some universal truth we’re talking about here nor are we only dealing in absolutes. You can simultaneously support a company’s rights to behave and control their content the way they want (such as removing content creators they deem inappropriate) while simultaneously thinking companies can go too far with things as well (such as lockboxes). Just the same the opposite can be true where you can think companies can go too far with what it deeps inappropriate while simultaneously not having an issue with their business models. You can have differing opinions like this because, as I stated above, it’s debatable.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

You’re comparing apples to oranges. Lockboxes are RMT (Real Money Transactions) and have to do a lot with relation to gambling and the legality of that. It effects people’s finances as well as other things. Speech, blogs, broadcasts, etc is a completely different thing. That is not a financial thing, nor …I’m really confused as to how you can confuse the two. Like..people speak out against content gambling with real money…but you see that as equal to a company banning someone on Twitch that makes sexist/racist/prejudice comments while Live broadcasting? Really? How?>!~

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Arktouros

We’re really not comparing apples and oranges.

Fundamentally we’re discussing to what extent we’re allowed to be upset, angry, or not agree with a company’s direction whether it’s policy direction or financial direction. Your absolute view that they are in total control means, as Bree stated above, would also believe firmly in their ability to charge or use whatever business tactic they want and there’s no being upset about it because they are in absolute control.

If you read their new policy it goes well behind sexist, racist or prejudicial remarks and gives them a cart blanche to really censor people for really any minor reason. Again, we’re not talking about the guy with a Nazi flag in the background spewing hate speech.

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Arktouros

And that’s exactly what I have been saying.

I can believe Twitch has the legal right to do something and still find their censorship policies ethically and morally repugnant and I feel duty-bound to object to it. Equally people can believe companies have the legal right to implement business models like lockboxes that they feel are ethically and morally repugnant and duty bound to object to those..

There’s no universally undebatable viewpoint here because things like ethics, morals and otherwise differ from culture to culture and person to person.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

No, it’s not. These policies shouldn’t be debatable to anyone. Period.

The lockbox issue is one of business ethics and morality. Some disagree with them. Some agree with them. That is is debatable and very much a two sided issue.

What we’re talking about, what’s being discussed in the HERE AND NOW on this is a policy update by companies -such as Twitch- to further regulate content on their hosted service. Furthermore, examples given of content needing regulation are those of sexism, racism, bigotry, hate speech, and yes even the guy with a Nazi flag in the background. What you’re trying to argue -or stretch a strawman this- is that they’re use these polices to “silence” people and enact total control over their platform’s voices broadcast. That is such a stretch that it isn’t even within reason to assume, but only within the minds of outlandish conspiracies would be conceived.

The bottom line is racists, sexists, bigots, and the like should be muted/banned. That is what I’m saying is not debatable. It’s a non-issue. Most of the moral world definitely agrees that those things are bad. To those that want to scream “free speech” can do so in the public streets to whomever they’d like.

Free Speech of the 1st Amendment was designed to allow citizens to openly, publicly speak out against their Government without fear of being punished for it. Drafted in a time when the country was dividing away from a state that actually fined, jailed, and punished its citizens for doing so. The content and context of the 1st Amendment should not be twisted in such a way as to try to shield and justify outright hate speech. That is not the intended purpose at all.

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Tanek

going after a particular streamer who puts on a sort of character act or occasionally does something stupid can seem a bit much

The problem is not just a “character act”, it is when that act targets, dehumanizes, and encourages harassment of a specific group or groups. Popular streamers on Twitch and YouTube are called ‘influencers’ for a reason. Their actions have an effect on the actions of others. they are emulated. And when the platform promotes them, that can be seen as approval.
As for just doing something stupid, again there is a difference between stupid and dangerous. Don’t eat laundry soap, kids.
So yes, there are lines that we have to keep an eye on, but I don’t think that some of the things currently being loudly defended deserve the defense.

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Arktouros

To once again reiterate, no one is going to bat an eye when they ban someone for hate speech or clear classes of harassment or otherwise.

What people, such as myself, worry about is what defines hatespeech, toxicity and otherwise and who will be making that determination. A great example is our good old friend Pepe the Frog. I’ve heard that dear Pepe was now a hate symbol because people were modifying him in hateful ways and throwing it around and people began to associate him as a hate symbol. So if I throw out a FeelsBadMan am I going to suddenly be looking at spreading hate? monkaS. How about another theoretical where a black man decides to diversify the, generally speaking, array of caucasian emotes by adding a few black ones and they’re used inappropriately is that on the streamer for having those emotes in the first place? Should he be banned or actioned upon?

If you listen to how far they take it, it’s fairly surprising how far they’re going and it’s well past just targeting harassment and hate speech.

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Tanek

Find me an example of a ban for one of those things and we can discuss. For now, though, the issue you run into with an argument like that is, not everyone will agree on where that line is. You say it is ok to ban “for hate speech or clear classes of harassment”, but I’ll bet you can find people who argue that what you say is hate speech either isn’t, or should be allowed, too. So it ends up sounding like you are fine with what YOU would ban being banned, but beyond that is wrong.

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Arktouros

I mean you’ll get no argument from me on that point, and it’s why I think policies like this are atrocious. I think tech companies should remain as neutral as possible and let people sort themselves out.

I also think companies should be 100% non liable for anything it’s users do on it’s service.

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BalsBigBrother

All the above with added pictures for emphasis ;-)

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Armsbend

I don’t care what this is. I am in favor of erasing free speech in all things. Yes, I know this would likely erase my own voice in many things.

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Veldan

Is it me or are Armsbend’s posts getting more radical every week

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

reminds me of my own absurdist bent predilicitions towards cyberfascism in my early 20s.

when central mainframe tells us what to think through the nanites in the drinking water we will all be free.

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Armsbend

Specifically since August – the month I started practicing meditation. Radical in philosophical thought possibly but I have never been more in control of my actions – albeit a work in progress.

Estranged
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Estranged

@Armsbend Good to hear, my little Indian doctor helped me walk down that path a few years back. Changed my life.

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Leiloni

To take your free speech ban to the extreme, what if those in power were suddenly some extreme far right religious types and we did indeed have no free speech. Maybe one day they say that meditation is blasphemy and you can’t do it – you can’t talk about it in person or online, you can’t read books or watch movies on it, and you can’t even do it in your own home. In fact anyone who knows you’re doing it and doesn’t report you will go to jail once you’re found out, along with you. It sounds absurd, but without free speech, the rabbit hole can go really far. It’s one of the cornerstones that ensures our freedoms.

In fact I know someone who is very religious and thought Yoga was dangerous from a religious perspective once I was telling her about my workouts. She hadn’t given it any real thought, but only said that because her mother had told her that. Now imagine people like that being the majority, and suddenly public opinion is that yoga is bad. At least we have the free speech to disagree with them and explain why their thinking is flawed and incorrect. What if we didn’t?

Siphaed
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Siphaed

Because that won’t happen. 3 branches to regulate each other, and 99.9% of the time, the Judicial branch votes against anything that would have a religious affect on the laws or policing of citizens.

And to quote myself above:

“Free Speech of the 1st Amendment was designed to allow citizens to openly, publicly speak out against their Government without fear of being punished for it. Drafted in a time when the country was dividing away from a state that actually fined, jailed, and punished its citizens for doing so. The content and context of the 1st Amendment should not be twisted in such a way as to try to shield and justify outright hate speech. That is not the intended purpose at all.”

The separation of Church and State was one of those things drafted as such that any one religion wouldn’t have an influencing hand over the US Government in order to dictate laws. I know there’s irony that most of the Government Officials holding office are Christian and -especially the ‘Right’- use it to justify their pushing of certain legal stances.

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Armsbend

Then you rise up and murder everyone.

Not having free speech is flawed. But where we are going as a race and the speed at which we are hurtling downward say to me – we cannot handle the responsibility of free speech for all.

Estranged
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Estranged

@Armsbend Outrage culture is a perfect example of every person having a voice causing mass hysteria. We need to talk less sometimes.

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Bruno Brito

That’s the most 180 stuff i’ve ever seen. Radicalism within meditation?

Damn. That’s some balls meditation.

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Armsbend

It is only radical to one hemisphere on this planet. On the other half – where 2/3 of the world’s population lives – it is mundane and ancient.

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Bruno Brito

Doesn’t make it less radical. I live in a country where free speech is partial. You cannot, in any way, shape or form, be a nazi supporter in Brazil. Walking with a swastika on the street, or using the KKK robes will get you arrested, IF the cops don’t beat the crap outta you and dump your ham somewhere in the fields and write it of as
a “victim of violence”.

I’m completely against controlling speech, because it’s the most ancient form of mind and culture control. And because i know it doesn’t work. Robespierre tried to control the speech of people when he terrorized France, and look where that got him. Hell, HE was a voice for freedom of thought, before he went batshit.

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Armsbend

Brazil is like our Wild West – with beautiful beaches and people. The cops, from my personal American experience, pretty much can (and do) as they please. You can be wearing a paisley tie and they may throw you into the trunk of their van out back. I’ve been in some truly dicey situations with your police both in Rio and on the highway to Buzios.

At my core I am also against controlling speech – as I like to run my mouth on all sorts of topics. But I study what is going on today in my part of the world and it disgusts me. Western civilization is in rapid decline and I think the rampart allowance of the severely ignorant’s ability to be heard is the main culprit.

So. You make a choice. Do you take away people’s inherit freedoms in the hopes you do not make yesterday’s mistakes – with the possibility of restoring them once some balance of civility is achieved? Or do you continue down this path of self-destruction hoping it gets better? I choose what I believe to be the greater good. If people are honest with themselves – see what better governments are doing today – I think they will come around as well. And if not? Then the choice is going to be made for them.

Loyheta
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Loyheta

Always makes me smile hearing dirtbags getting what they deserve. Sucks about the photographer but rules are rules.

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possum440 .

E-sports trying to look all warm and fuzzy to gain positive press. It will never work. The nature of video games, the way gamers treat each other….Humans, treat each other, will NEVER change.

These futile attempts to “civilize” gamers will change nothing. Gamers will continue to berate each other by stating you are some low life or worse words, gamers will continue to state other gamers cant do this or that because they deem it so and the fights and namecalling will continue. PVP will continue to be a cesspool and anonymity will drive it all because people are brave when they are not standing face to face with another person.

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Armsbend

People in real sports act civilized. It is part of the ruleset. If you don’t act civilized you get kicked out.

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Bruno Brito

So? That’s no reason to give up.

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mysecretid

Indeed. Most of the time, fighting against evil isn’t a “final boss battle”, like in games or movies, where one side ultimately wins or loses.

It’s more like a tug-of-war.

Every day, you put your hands on the rope over on the side labelled “Good”, and you pull as best you can, as much as you can, for that day.

Some days,the rope moves more towards Good, sometimes more towards Evil, but so long as enough people keep showing up every day and pulling for the side of Good, the world keeps turning.

Every day we pull to keep Evil from taking over, is another day Good wins, by default.

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blahlbinoa .

The only problem I have with Twitch’s new guidelines is that it is VERY vague. It’s stuff THEY deem hateful and what they DEEM as inappropriate dress, but just like YouTube, they won’t give you a list. It’s just a wait and see what is appropriate or not until it’s too late.

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postlarval

Anyone with a brain in their head can figure out what is an appropriate way to treat others online.

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Zen Coder

nice, this is a WIN for us SJW betas

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Crowe

Toxicity Roundup? Should totally be a thing. Maybe not a weekly thing but every other week for sure!

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Zachdidit

This thread reminds me of a site I found years back where writers from sites including the pre-AOL debacle Massively would post gif reactions to screencapped troll comments. Does anyone remember the url, I can only hope this tradition is still going on.

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Leiloni

Regarding HoTS, I don’t think that’s going to fix their problem. MOBAs and similar games have a community issue that needs to be addressed at the heart of the issue, not by avoiding voice chat. That doesn’t prevent people from acting like jerks. There’s a reason those games always have toxic communities and other genre’s of games don’t. Avoiding voice chat would just be putting a flimsy bandaid on the issue. If people want real results, they’ll have to suggest something deeper than that.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

Okay…that’s a lot to take in. It’s like the corporations running these games are finally listening to Captain Planet.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

I’m surprised MassivelyOP finds it hard to get writers to cover these stories. They all seem as though they would come nearer to qualifying as actual “news” than many of the PR pieces that appear so I would have thought people would be eager to cover them. It’s also not as though they are unmitigated “bad news” either – the responses by the developers and companies here seem to be encouraging and positive.

As a reader, I’d like to see more of this kind of coverage, and see it handled in more depth, so I hope future stories along these lines won’t languish in the news room unseen for long.

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Veldan

I’d like to see more of this coverage too, both because I am more interested in “meta talk” about the industry than about individual game news and because it usually creates more and more interesting discussion in the comments.

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Bruno Brito

What people think HotS will be with voice:

*Racial, homophobic, sexist slurs*

What it’ll really be:

“DO U NO DA WAE”

Estranged
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Estranged

Bruno – basically.

“Heelz!”

“Youz bad”

or…

“Let’s Friend up after the match, good job”