(there’s a pun in there that you’ll see in a minute…)
Note: I wrote this post last Wednesday. Since then, more players were suspended for various valid reasons (racism, homophobia, etc…) and meh reasons (account sharing).
xQc was even released from his team.
But… my points still stand so I’m still publishing as is. Enjoy.
On January 24th, 2018, Park “Profit” Joon-Yeong, from the London Spitfire flipped off his teammates in his camera. It was at that moment that the live feed cut to him, showing him off in all his unimpressed glory.
And while I personally appreciated the moment, who hasn’t been there, the league, twitch, Blizzard, and other fans (with kids they’ve never flipped off before) were less amused.
He was fined. He apologized. He was mortified. And I didn’t spend a single second being upset with him. He’s human. He was caught in a human moment. I’m not trying to eliminate the ability to be human and make mistakes.
He’s not, for example, Jake.
And yes, I am targeting Jake specifically. He’s become the face of American players and, in a way, the league. I had to listen to countless features on him and how he’s SO GREAT because he uses his real name. (Because Ryujehong is using… oh, right, his full name.) How he’s SO GREAT because he’s DPS. How he’s SO GREAT because he’s on a team with the first openly gay player.
How he’s SO TRASH because he’s suggested other players kill themselves during his streams.
I’ve been meaning for awhile to write a post about punching up while playing games. On naming your characters and throwing shade without using offensive slurs that are harmful to others.
And I can already feel (white male) gamers out there snarling and spitting as the urge to call me out as a “snowflake” that’s been “lol, triggered.”
But here’s the thing, I play the game to have fun. Look, I’m just like you. Just someone looking to unwind from the (less than fabulous) real world by blatant escapism and a few explosions. But it’s hard to feel joy when the fantasy world I escape into is filled with people using their anonymity to hurl hate my way. When I’m called the same slurs that have been thrown my way since I was a teenager. Or you know, when I try to crawl out from under my rock of depression only to be told to kill myself.
And it’s even more offensive when you consider the case of xQc. xQc is a troll. It’s his brand. He thrives on it and the attention it gives him. (Despite all the signs not to feed the goddamn trolls AND the advice that they’re like fairies from Peter Pan. If you don’t believe in them, they die.)
xQc got his nards all twisted over a loss to the Houston Outlaws. Yeah, that’s right. Jake’s team. He then, during a stream, lashed out at that one openly gay player by throwing around some slurs and insulting him for, you know, being gay
The internet gasped, as it should have. He was fined and suspended, as he should have been. His team suspended him for even longer. Say it with me know, as they should have.
(I mean, he later went on to throw around more insults and then apologize like that made it okay. Anyone who has experienced emotional abuse can tell you that an apology without an obvious attempt to change behavior means fuck-all.)
But he did bring up a valid point. Why was he being singled out? Why was he now the bad boy of the league while Jake, the aforementioned face of OWL’s transgressions being swept under the rug? Why am I feeling sympathy for the troll?
Marketability and because bad boys sell, FYI. But let’s ignore capitalism for just a moment, as the Overwatch dev team claims it’s trying to create a less toxic community.
That begins by not having people in your league who are figurative dumpster fires. After all, why are people going to change their behavior in Arcade and Quickplay when the professionals they’re watching are still spewing filth and getting away with it?
You may notice this post feels circular, and that’s because the argument is. The community is full of trash because the pros are trash because they came from a community full of trash.
I feel it’s important to break that vicious circle (cycle?) here. To acknowledge that there are wonderful people in the world of Overwatch. Not just people I already knew on Twitter who happened to play, but also the folks in that really great Deathmatch I got into the other day. The ones who were laughing and joking and not really caring that we were slaughtering each other because, that’s right, we were just there to have fun.
That’s what I want more of. Just people with a common interest who aren’t smothering the community under the swamp gas of slurs and hate.
In summary, I don’t think players who swear or throw a rude hand gesture once or twice should be banned. Fined, maybe. This is a commercialized event and they can’t risk losing sponsorship and viewership.
Players who have a history of abusive behavior, though? They have no place in this league, in this community, or anywhere in society. I’d be totally happy if they all were exiled to an island where only other troglodytes roam and they can all be vicious hateful little single-celled organisms together finally free of triggering any snowflakes.
(yeah, I know… but don’t tell them before they get to the island, okay?)