Months ago, the gaming community – and those outside of it – were up in arms over the trailer for the game Hatred. The trailer featured explicit violence with no comic undertones, and was labeled by many as something without any taste. Apparently, those working at Twitch have agreed with that camp. As part of their official blog, twitch has announced that they’re blanket banning all games rated AO by the ESRB. Currently, only 26 titles rate this way – one of which being Hatred. There is no other reason for Twitch to introduce this policy now, so one must assume that this is to combat streaming of Hatred.
“Our goal at Twitch is to create a safe, welcoming, inclusive community platform where everyone can feel comfortable and have fun,” reads the blog update. “From time to time, we update our Rules of Conduct (RoC) in pursuit of this goal and to match emerging issues in the video game industry.” The update continues on to remark about its precious policy regarding AO games, where they would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Twitch has decided that this process is “unsustainable and unclear, generating only further confusion among Twitch broadcasters.”
Providing more clarity to those that are broadcasting on Twitch is a noble effort – the company has had trouble communicating with its users in the past. But is this really the way to go? There’s a real discussion to be had here, and Twitch bringing down a blanket ban on AO content is a bold move – one that many streamers might find to be strong-arming. Instead of banning AO games outright, some may prefer an age barrier – similar to the one that’s up on many YouTube videos – where the user needs to confirm their age to view the content.
Then again, this doesn’t necessarily seem to brought about because of a desire to communicate better with Twitch streamers. More than anything else, this will be construed as a moral statement from Twitch – something the company hasn’t been known for, what with especially toxic communities using Twitch chat rooms as stomping grounds. This could be the start of Twitch having more of a moral face when judging its content – and you can be sure there will be backlash.