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.