At the DreamHack Austin event last week in Austin, Texas, Hearthstone player Terrence “TerrenceM” Miller surprised everyone by coming in second. However, the relatively unknown player’s stellar performance at the tournament was heavily overshadowed by the torrents of racist abuse that were directed at him in the Twitch chat.
The abuse was so horrendous that TerrenceM’s parents were forced to go full-screen to hide the stream’s chat, and the player also told The Daily Dot that “you have to keep bringing [up the issue of harassment] and try to find a resolution.” Following on from the abuse, Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of Hearthstone, has now announced plans to combat Twitch harassment.
Blizzard Working With Twitch on Harassment Pilot Scheme
In a statement from Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime, sent to PC Gamer, the executive says that:
“We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last. One of our company values is “Play Nice; Play Fair”; we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community. This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels. We can only hope that when instances like this come to light it encourages people to be more thoughtful and positive, and to fully reject mean-spirited commentary, whether within themselves or from their fellow gamers.”
The company has also vowed to take a proactive stance against this sort of behaviour, saying that:
“To help combat this type of behavior during live events, we’ve reached out to players, streamers, and moderators, along with partners like Twitch, DreamHack, and others, to get consensus and collaborate on what to do differently moving forward. To that end, we’re investigating a pilot program that Twitch has in the works to streamline moderation and combat ban evasion. We’re also updating our esports tournament partner policies with a stronger system of checks, balances, and repercussions to provide a better chat experience around our content.
We believe these are important steps to take to help address the related issues, but we acknowledge that they only address part of the problem. This is ultimately an industry-wide issue, and it will take all of us to make a real impact.”
While there are of course arguments that Blizzard could have (and even should have) stepped in much sooner to address what has been a problem on Twitch for some time now, there’s also the viewpoint of ‘better late than never.’ With few details about this pilot scheme on hand, it’s also difficult to gauge just how effective Blizzard’s efforts will be, but given that the developer is responsible for a playerbase of over 50 million (and that’s just Hearthstone), it’s work to tackle harassment could potentially go a long way.