The nature of streaming content has become so second nature to its biggest stars that their stream of consciousness has gotten them in trouble on numerous occasions. From swearing and abusive language in the midst of ‘gamer rage’, all the way to outright hate speech, it seems like the things that make people the most controversial are the ones that get the most attention.
Whether this is positive or negative is really up for the viewer to decide. When big streamers are involved, bringing big audiences with them, it’s hard for streaming platforms to truly punish streamers, even if their community guidelines have been breached. When sites like Twitch are dependent on views, and controversial streamers bring in those views, the lines of what is and isn’t acceptable become difficult to see.
Popular Twitch streamer Dr. DisRespect, real name Guy Beahm, was banned this year for two weeks, following a live stream he broadcast from the bathroom of E3. While this was really just one of SEVERAL leaks of information from this convention, because of his status and visibility on the platform, Twitch was forced to ban him. This event might be simply a convention overstepping their bounds by one token, or a Twitch user banned righteously for violating community guidelines. The problem is that this two week suspension, even for a streamer that makes their income on the platform, is ultimately just a slap on the wrist. But when a major streamer breaks the rules, it shines a bad light on the entire platform.
Another example of a popular streamer causing issues for Twitch happened in July. Alinity Divine, real name Natalia Mogollon, got angry and effectively tossed her cat over her shoulder. The community called for a lifetime ban, citing animal abuse being streamed as a reason. While this seems like a pretty open and shut case, it became clouded almost instantly by the community. A influx amount of aggressive men targeted the streamer, and Twitch suddenly had to choose between protecting their streamers from sexist abuse and punishing a streamer for animal abuse.
The lines being blurred by streamers and their popularity complicates things even further when considering how almost every streaming platform wants to be as advertiser friendly as humanly possible. While streaming gamers like Ninja, real name Richard Tyler Blevins, getting angry at kids during Minecraft Mondays might not seem like a big deal, it can scare the pants off any advertiser who wants kids or parents to buy their product. That’s not to say that kids aren’t allowed to play Minecraft on Mondays, but when Twitch streamers are there, it does make it seem like Tuesdays might be better for kids. Ninja moving to Mixer might help that, though.
In defense of all the two-week bans and all the community guideline editing that’s happened in the recent past, streaming platforms really do seem to have their hands full with these content creators. They are, in essence, the very bread and butter of the platform. However, that doesn’t mean they have to constantly be causing problems to be so. With the addition of newer expectations with big companies expecting as much return on their dollar as possible from advertising funds, it can be an uphill battle to be the people trying to argue that these streamers are WORTH the controversy involved. It’s hard enough to be a content creation site, managing all the users trying to undermine the rules constantly, not to mention your biggest earners making fools of themselves every few weeks.
There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to people clicking on controversy more often than content, but that doesn’t have to mean the death of streaming. As a matter of fact, some controversy happening in the streaming community can help to keep people’s eyes open to streamers in general. Maybe it isn’t the best way to go about garnering viewers, but it has to be said there are few options that seem to be as effective. So as long as people keep seeing troublemakers on Twitch, Mixer, and even YouTube, then at least people are paying attention to streaming as a whole.