Mike Morhaime has once again stepped up and proven he is one of the few leading gaming executives unprepared to sit by and tolerate hate and discrimination in the games community.
His latest stand comes after last week’s DreamHack Hearthstone tournament where finalist Terrence Miller, who is black, was the subject of a barrage of racial hate speech in the event’s Twitch stream chat.
“We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event,” Morhaime said in a statement on VentureBeat. “We feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behaviour, in or outside of the gaming community.
“This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels. 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.
“To help combat this type of behavior during live events, we’ve reached out to players, streamers, and moderators, along with partners like Twitch, DreamHack, and others, to get consensus and collaborate on what to do differently moving forward. To that end, we’re investigating a pilot program that Twitch has in the works to streamline moderation and combat ban evasion. We’re also updating our esports tournament partner policies with a stronger system of checks, balances, and repercussions to provide a better chat experience around our content.
“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. This is ultimately an industry-wide issue, and it will take all of us to make a real impact.”
Twitch confirmed that it is exploring the implementation of “new tools and processes” designed to prevent and police the problem, and that it has “taken action” against offenders.
Miller was dignified in his response to the events, telling Polygon that he was more concerned with how his family might react.
“I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be that bad,” he said. “I was getting texts from my parents saying, ‘Oh, we saw you on your interview, really good job.’ And I was just hoping they saw it in full screen and didn’t see the chat.”
Sadly, they did, but Miller said that the family chose to “focus on the positive’ of his excellent tournament performance. He added: “We just acknowledged that it happened. I have two little cousins, nine and seven. I play video games with them all the time when I go visit my aunt. I play Hearthstone with them. And they knew about the tournament this weekend. I really hope they didn’t watch it at all, because I know they’re into the whole video game community.
“For me, whatever. It happened. It shouldn’t have happened. It won’t bother me. But for the people who want to support me, who care about me, for them to see that, I can definitely see how that would hurt a lot.”
In late 2014 Morhaime used his Blizzcon speech to urge the games community to stand up to online hate, labelling Gamergate as an “awful thing”. Sadly, Morhaime stands largely alone, with EA’s Peter Moore and Sony’s Jim Ryan among the only other execs to speak out publicly against Gamergate.
MCV has in the past lamented publisher’s unwillingness to speak out against hate and support the victims of this abuse within both the industry and wider games community. Why they have not remains a mystery to this day. Presumably because racists and sexists spend a lot of money on games?