Blizzard Entertainment has revealed plans to combat harassment and abuse on Twitch, following an incident involving Hearthstone pro Terrence 'TerrenceM' Miller. The gaming giant will work with the streaming site to create measures to curb an issue that continues to plague the gaming community.
During the aforementioned incident, Miller, an African-American player, became the target of appalling abuse from some of those commenting during a Twitch livestream of the DreamHack Hearthstone tournament in Austin, Texas. Miller finished in second place behind Keaton 'Chakki' Gill, but his performance and accomplishment were marred by the slew of racist comments made by viewers.
In response to the incident, Blizzard president and co-founder Michael 'Mike' Morhaime issued a statement announcing plans to work with Twitch and other partners to help combat the issue.
"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," Morhaime told Polygon. "One of our company values is 'Play Nice; Play Fair;' we feel there's no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behaviour, in or outside of the gaming community."
However, Morhaime does acknowledge that last weekend's behaviour is part of a larger issue that haunts the industry.
"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."
Previous Twitch chats for larger events have proven to be magnets for thousands of comments firing in unison, ranging from humorous and insightful to full-blown, hateful aggression and rampant filth.
Twitch also responded with a statement to GamesBeat:
"We take harassment very seriously and understand how important this is for the entire Twitch community. We currently approach chat behaviour by providing broadcasters tools, education, and autonomy to police their own channel. While in this instance the broadcaster was unable to fully prevent the described behaviour, Twitch has a responsibility to broadcasters and players to provide a welcoming environment.
"As such, as Blizzard noted, we are exploring new tools and processes to increase awareness and mitigation of these issues, and will continue to take action against chatters who committed reported violations. We can't comment on specifics at this time, but we do have a team dedicated to improving these aspects of the chat experience with a lot of internal progress already that we hope to share with the community soon."
As eSports becomes more popular and mainstream, developers and broadcasters will look to mitigate the issue and promote more meaningful discourse.
"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," Morhaime said. "This is ultimately an industry-wide issue, and it will take all of us to make a real impact."