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Hearthstone: Mike Morhaime Statement on DreamHack Austin Racism

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The large amount of racism, as well as other hate speech, in the live stream chat for DreamHack Austin has prompted Blizzard President, Mike Morhaime, to take action. The nature of the action has not yet been confirmed, but Morhaime has released a statement explaining that they are exploring various avenues to combat this growing problem.


The statment, given to Polygon, begins by expressing his disappointment with the offensive language used. He goes on to explain who is being consulted, and which options are being looked at.

Blizzard Icon Mike Morhaime

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. (source)

He is also aware, that while this cosmetic change will be very welcome, the underlying issue is something that also needs addressing.

Blizzard Icon Mike Morhaime

This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels," he said. "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. (source)

It is a real shame that this is a necessary step, but having witnessed that chat first hand, it was inevitable. The anonymity provided by the Internet is powerful enough to allow people's hate speech to run free. Stopping this will not stop the hate, but it will make it a more pleasant experience for all involved if they don't have to know about it.
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Is there any video of this? Curious to see how bad it got. Possible solution, a screening of incoming messages by a third party? Maybe even somethimg the streamer can access if it doesn't make the multitasking of playing a good game while chatting with the audience unbearable. You also wouldn't want to take screening too far, lest we lose free speech, however in this case, perhaps the talk should be primarily about the game.

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aren't twitch.tv accounts connected to people's facebook accounts (atleast for playhearthstone chat)

and they still spam chat with racism?

 

not sure about dh austin

Edited by causevha

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Is there any video of this? Curious to see how bad it got. Possible solution, a screening of incoming messages by a third party? Maybe even somethimg the streamer can access if it doesn't make the multitasking of playing a good game while chatting with the audience unbearable. You also wouldn't want to take screening too far, lest we lose free speech, however in this case, perhaps the talk should be primarily about the game.

One of his matches can be seen here around 43m in https://www.twitch.tv/dreamhackhs/v/65293353

Not sure if this one was before or after the mods got a handle on it, but will give an example.

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On 5/19/2016 at 5:09 AM, Soultwist said:

Is there any video of this? Curious to see how bad it got. Possible solution, a screening of incoming messages by a third party? Maybe even somethimg the streamer can access if it doesn't make the multitasking of playing a good game while chatting with the audience unbearable. You also wouldn't want to take screening too far, lest we lose free speech, however in this case, perhaps the talk should be primarily about the game.

Something like Twitch chat is, in no way, a free speech issue.  It's a private space and the owner of a Twitch channel, and/or Twitch itself, dictates what behavior is acceptible; just like you're entitled to kick someone out of your house for any reason you see fit.  If a Twitch channel wanted to, they could auto-ban everyone who uses words beginning with "D".  Most people would think that's ridiculous and they'd lose a lot of viewers but it would not be infringing anyone's free speech.  Nobody is required to provide anyone else with a platform from which to speak.  

Even apart from this not being a free speech concern in the first place, hate speech is not protected speech.  

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2 hours ago, daisyrawks said:

Even apart from this not being a free speech concern in the first place, hate speech is not protected speech.  

Exactly. Freedom of speech =/= the ability to attack someone verbally without consequence.

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Sigh... Not what I was trying to say really. At the time of writing my post I also had no context to go on. I will say that while I do not condone hate speech (or hate in general for that matter) I am a little leary of the term "hate speech" because I often see it used in place of "differing opinion."  I also believe that what someone says may indeed have consequences, so no argument there. That being said, I will now go take a look at the video to get a better idea of what happened. Hope this isn't taken the wrong way.

Edit: After viewing the content, I agree. Totally uncalled for and rather childish I might add. Looks like there is always going to be troublemakers. It's a shame people can't behave like adults in an environment meant to be fun for everyone.

Edited by Soultwist
Additional statement to make.
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If the first piece of moderation advice is to "just ignore it", then it's being effectively condoned.  What's needed is a zero tolerance policy: because online abuse, just like offline abuse, should not be allowed to stand unchallenged.  Ultimately, to challenge it, the companies that provide the platforms need to spend money to find solutions.  If they don't, then they're condoning it through inaction, and are morally culpable.  They need to police the popular streamers that help them generate revenue, and ensure that they're playing nice as well.

Why did the organizers of Dreamhack Austin not simply pull the plug on the chat?  At the point where one of their players was being abused in front of his family and friends: somebody in a position of responsibility should have shut it down.  

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15 hours ago, mimech said:

Why did the organizers of Dreamhack Austin not simply pull the plug on the chat?  At the point where one of their players was being abused in front of his family and friends: somebody in a position of responsibility should have shut it down.  

I think this would be an interesting thing to see happen. The organisers would most likely receive hate no matter what they did.

It also would be interesting to see how many viewers were there for the chat rather than the tournament. There is definitely a group on Twitch that goes out of their way to cause stuff like this, so with a muted chat, would they keep watching? How many were there?

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On 5/21/2016 at 10:26 AM, Soultwist said:

 I am a little leary of the term "hate speech" because I often see it used in place of "differing opinion."

To be honest, I'm leery of of comments like this because I find "differing opinion" is often used in place of "name calling and generally being horrible".   Every troll, abuser and harasser ever has made the claim that their targets banned or blocked them just for disagreeing or some other harmless sounding thing.  I'd much rather err on the side of a too liberal definition of "hate speech" than a too narrow one.  I'd rather see a small handful of people unfairly banned from Twitch (they can always make a new account or send someone a PM to plead their case and get unbanned) than entire vast groups of people feeling like all of Twitch is actively hostile to them. 

 

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The more I research this one, the worse it seems to get.  It's all very well for Blizzard to say they're anti-racism, but there are quite a few examples of them seeming to openly support racism.  Like, they feature the streamer Reynad, both as a presenter at tournaments and as one of the people revealing their Old Gods cards.  And Reynad likes to laugh at racist jokes: you can see this on Youtube if you type "reynad laughing at racist jokes" into Google.  You can catch him on Twitter afterwards complaining about the fact that his text-to-speech racist joke frenzy will have to be discontinued due to complaints from Twitch.  So, he's not sorry then.

My conclusion: Blizzard seem to be supporting racism.  Or, more specifically - they support a streamer who laughs at racist jokes.

Then there's Leeroy Jenkins.  That's a white guy pretending to be a black guy, depicting him as tactically ignorant and then using the stereotypical idea of a love for chicken as the punchline.  So, that's racist.  And that's right there in the game of Hearthstone - and it's even a pretty good card in some face decks, so it's a relatively popular part of their popular game.

My conclusion: Blizzard seem to be supporting racism.  They have it in their game.

So, as they're discussing with people how to deal with it: they should clean their own house first.  Lead the way!

 

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