The streaming community is in uproar after a member of Twitch’s new Safety Advisory Council called for multiplayer games to remove voice-chat functionality because of the "uneven playing field" it creates.
Twitch announced a new Safety Advisory Council on May 14. The intention of the group is to draft policies and refine the current Terms of Service for streamers.
The eight-person group is joined by four prominent Twitch streamers, including streaming veteran CohhCarnage. However, one of them has already drawn the ire of the streaming community, after she argued in-game voice chats create an “uneven playing field,” and should be deleted.
Twitch staff has completely lost it
>Remove voice chat from the highest level for giving unfair advantage, VOICE CHAT IS UNFAIR pic.twitter.com/sxjlB7PU1m
— Haci (@DonHaci) May 14, 2020
“Voice chat is unfair,” popular streamer FerociouslySteph argued during a May 14 broadcast. She suggested, "the only way to have a level playing field for the highest level of play is to not have voice-chat... to not have people give up their linguistic profiles."
The streaming community responded nearly immediately, with many disputing her claims. One big name, World of Warcraft star Asmongold, suggested the Amazon-owned site may have made "a big mistake" adding her to the council.
“It seems like a big mistake for them to have her on the council. From the clips and content I've seen, it will only serve to discredit the entire effort,” he said. Fellow streamer Panda added: "This is not it is not about race, gender... it's just a bad take on comms."
It seems like a big mistake for them to have her on the council
From the clips and content I've seen, it will only serve to discredit the entire effort
— Zack (@Asmongold) May 15, 2020
FerociouslySteph responded to the criticism on her stance soon after: “Yeah, whole [sic] lot of people with cis-white-male voices thinking voice chat is critical to competitive games being competitive," she said on May 14.
Oooo yeah whole lot of people with cis-white-male voices thinking voice chat is critical to competitive games being competitive.
Tell me more about how we'll solve systemic misogyny and everything will be fine~ lol.
— FerociouslySteph (@FerociouslyS) May 14, 2020
During Trainwrecks' popular Twitch podcast, top streamer Felix 'xQc' Lengyel called Loehr's argument about voice chat "objectively and [unequivocally] stupid."
Speaking to Newsweek, Loehr explained her argument about voice chat further. "Voice chat requires people to reveal their linguistic profile, which can contain a lot of identity information people can target you for harassment or judgement in game. When using your voice provides a competitive advantage, marginalized gamers are placed in a lose/lose situation."
Twitch itself told Newsweek, "it is unfortunate to see a member of the advisory council targeted for harassment. The safety of our council members is our top priority and we've taken preventative measures to help ensure their safety and well-being."
New Twitch councilor FerociouslySteph has long been a public advocate for removing voice chat in competitive games too. All the way back in 2018, she suggested modern publishers needs to be aware that "adding voice chat to [their] games is anti-inclusivity."
"It hurts your marginalized and female player-base, especially within competitive play," she continued in the Jan 2018 post. "Women and minorities should not be forced to choose between a competitive advantage or freedom from harassment."
Therefore: people who are harassed must give up a competitive advantage in order to no longer subject themselves to abuse. Women and minorities should not be forced to choose between a competitive advantage or freedom from harassment.
— FerociouslySteph (@FerociouslyS) January 29, 2018
While some of the general gaming community may have taken issue with her stance, FerociouslySteph will actively be involved with the direction of Twitch moderation moving forward.
A rundown on the new Safety Advisory council can be found in the full blog post.