Oh, internet. Why do you have to be this way? It’s inevitable that offensive memes are going to be flying around by the bucketload, but high-profile Overwatch players really shouldn’t be getting themselves involved in that kind of crapola.
Wherever you happen to be on the web, there’s no getting away from the fact that it can be a rough place. Hateful comments, insults, general trolling and intolerance… it doesn’t matter if you’re discussing a controversial topic or just visiting the Barney The Dinosaur’s Super Friendly Fan Forums, things are going to get heated. And sweary.
That’s just the way of things on the web. Much of the time, we’re able to hide behind usernames, which some take as a kind of carte blanche to be a d-bag. When it comes to online gaming, this whole thing is exacerbated further. Some gamers, whether they’re winning or losing, just have to be real pains about it.
This is where the whole concept of a toxic community comes from. The games with the biggest online followings, such as Call of Duty, League of Legends and the like, are notorious for their playerbase. When you’re a big name in the competitive communities of said game, you’re expected to set an example; like an older and wiser sibling. Sadly, four big names in competitive Overwatch have failed to do so, and Blizzard have called them out on it in a big way.
As reported over on the Overwatch League site, the devs/publishers have acknowledged infractions by these players, and doled out punishments accordingly. Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, of the Dallas Fuel, has been fined $1000 for the use of anti-gay slurs while streaming. Ted “Silkthread” Wang, of the Los Angeles Valiant, has been fined the same hefty sum for sharing his account, which is forbidden by the license agreement.
Félix “xQc” Lengyel, of the Dallas Fuel, was hit hardest. He has been suspended for four matches, and fined a super steep $4000. Why? For using a racially-disparaging emote on social media and stream, and for using these platforms to bad-mouth fellow players and casters of Overwatch. It’s not his first offense, either.
Meanwhile, Tae-yeong “TaiRong” Kim, of the Houston Outlaws, posted similar offensive memes on social media, but got away with a formal warning after making an unsolicited public apology and a charitable donation.
As for whether these punishments fit their crimes or are a little heavy-handed, that’s up to personal opinion. One thing we can probably agree on is that, as the official site states, this is a huge time for the game just now. With any title, the biggest competitive players are really the face(s) of the game, and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to take that role seriously.