The #MeToo movement is one that has been attempting to facilitate understanding and change across multiple fields. While many of us know what the #MeToo movement is, there are quite a few that still have no idea. In order to understand this movement and how it is coming to gaming culture, first we’ll cover a brief overview of the #MeToo movement.
A Quick Look at Gaming’s #MeToo History
Established in 2006, the #MeToo movement was meant to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly women, to have their voices heard and help encourage change. Within a few months of #MeToo being a hashtag, many women came out about their own stories with sexual violence in various communities. This movement has led communities to have conversations about what they could do better, how they could address these issues, and brought to light quite a few incidents of abuse in different forms. Now it seems to be the gaming community’s time for self reflection on this matter and making a safer environment for its gamers.
There has always been abuse of some kind in the gaming community: you have toxic fandoms, toxic player bases, bullies based on race, based on gender, and the list can go on and on. Women in particular have faced issues from not being taken seriously, belittled and berated, and seen as props to gaming rather than as individualized people. The last issue has started to come to a head more often in the Twitch community as well as in the Smash Bros. communities of gaming and streaming.
Abuses, Bans and Allegations on Twitch and Smash Bros.
Allegations have been pouring out the last few weeks across multiple platforms of streaming, esports, and gaming conventions. While some of the allegations are still being investigated, Twitch has started to be a bit more proactive and has started banning some of these abusers. Some Twitch personalities in question who have been accused and banned include BlessRNG, DreadedCone, iAmSp00n, WarwitchTV, and Wolv21, to name a few. There are more Twitch streamers, partners and affiliates that have been accused, and there are those that are keeping track of all of the accusations and allegations in a Drive Excel sheet for people to be able to look at.
Twitch has been called out in the past for not taking action against their content creators who have been accused of these behaviors before and seems to realize now that these allegations will not just be swept under the rug. The CEO of Twitch, according to Twitter posts, has apologized for not taking things seriously in the past and intends to make Twitch a safer environment for the future. These bans show that he is willing to make some sort of commitment, but time will tell whether that remains the case.
The streamers who have been accused are being investigated for rape, assualt, harrassment, and even grooming members of their audience. Twitch is not the only community that has currently been struck with allegations of grooming and sexual violence, however, and Smash is facing their own allegation controversy.
Smash Bros. is a game meant to be inclusive to all ages, allowing their comical levels of animated violence and tools to try to come out on top of the game. Nintendo has always tried to be a family-friendly company, so the idea that even this community has turned out to have some of these same abusers present is startling, to say the least, and abhorrent. There are investigations being made as far as these allegations go, and many on the internet have actually created online spreadsheets to update as details come to light. Smash Bros. themselves have denounced the esports individuals, like Cinnpie and Nairo, and have condemned the behavior.
Wrestling with the Depth of the Problem
Not everyone understands how serious a problem we are dealing with in the gaming community. This has become apparent with the new IP “Gamer Girl” that is set to release this year. This game focuses on the plight of a young woman who streams, and you take on the role of the moderator and are charged with keeping her safe. The woman does not seem to know boundaries or sense and relies on this outside force to keep her safe from stalkers and dangerous members of her community. The game was created by a team made up of only men, and it seems to make light of or dramatize the plights women gamers and streamers have to deal with.
While people are starting to take this issue more seriously, there is still a struggle to make the community safe to all who are involved in it. Steps need to be taken continually to make sure that gamers, no matter their age or gender, are taken seriously and provided safe environments to pursue their hobbies.