Blizzard and Twitch to Address Online Hooliganism During eSports Livestreams

mike morhaime blizzard ceo
A professional Hearthstone player, Terrence “TerrenceM” Miller, recently participated at Dreamhack Austin. His plays were livestreamed on Twitch. Due to extremely poor moderation and bad behavior by some of the viewers (who might more aptly be referred to as “stream monsters” in this case) the player, who’s black, faced a barrage of racist abuse.

The responsibility for the quality of the chat and its clear lack of moderation falls squarely upon the shoulders of its organizers at Dreamhack, who recruited volunteer mods on-the-fly who according to a recent Polygon report, actually acted against the interests of the stream by allegedly shutting off the chatroom’s “slow mode” and “sub-only mode” and unbanning repeat offenders after senior moderators attempted to control the chat according to Carling “toastthebadger” Filewich, who was quoted in the article. Regardless of who was at fault, it wasn’t pretty.

Following the incident, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime has released a statement to say that the developer is working with Twitch on a new pilot program for better moderation.

“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,” said Morhaime.

“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.

“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.”

Trolling isn’t unique to online games and eSports. Traditional spectator sports, especially football, have long faced issues with hooliganism and rioting. Either way, they’re problems that need to be actively dealt with by the organizers and it’s good to see Blizzard stepping up to the plate.