Twitch needs to step up its game, words aren’t just words, and thicker skin shouldn’t be a necessity for one streamer and not another simply because of the colour of that skin.
TwitchCon took place over the bridge between September and October this year. However what could have been a mature discussion about moving forward in terms of diversity, the Diversity Panel was overshadowed by an onslaught of racial abuse on the live streaming site itself. The four presenters, all black, were subject to specific and general racial hatred while they attempted to debate one of the most troubling aspects of live streaming culture.
However perhaps most shocking is the fact that many non-users were unaware of this disgusting facet of the streaming industry. In fact much discussion surrounding such racial issues has only sprung up because of this event.
Sadly racism is everywhere. And it’s been on Twitch since the website was in its infancy. Small minded, attention seeking losers have been misspelling racial slurs to avoid moderation since streaming became popular, even appropriating certain emojis to convey their sentiments. This is the internet though, a space where free speech is abound and often abused to hateful ends. There’s the losers actually spouting these slurs, and there are the enablers arguing that words are simply words and skin should be thicker.
The fault in this logic lies in the story of Terrance Miller. Making headlines earlier this year for winning the Hearthstone tournament at Dreamhack, Austin would have been a perfect result for the eSports competitor. Unfortunately, despite his win, the headlines were centered around the explosion of racist comments in the Twitch chat. Twitch assured users that it was “exploring new tools and processes to increase awareness and mitigation of these issues” however just a few months later and Miller is speaking in the Diversity Panel of Twitch Con – to the same response.
Streaming and eSports competition have been labelled a white man’s past time, no doubt because of the heavily white demographic. Other races are singled out in this highly personal medium, and the interaction afforded to viewers on Twitch as well as the staggering numbers watching any one stream makes people hide behind their screens and troll from under their desks. Twitch needs to step up its game, words aren’t just words, and thicker skin shouldn’t be a necessity for one streamer and not another simply because of the colour of that skin.