Twitch has permanently banned five prominent streamers after nearly a hundred allegations of sexual assault and abuse came to light.
Following a #MeToo wave on social media, hundreds of gamers – mainly women – came forward with their experiences of harassment, abuse and assault.
Taking to platforms Medium and TwitLonger, many of those stories included the names of the accused – including those of prominent Twitch partners.
Streamers across the world then shunned the online platform on Tuesday in a bid to highlight the issue to the company’s bosses.
This news comes days after accusations that CEO Emmett Shear laughed off stories revolving around abusive Twitch users.
Banned users have not been officially named. However, the streaming giant stated they have already banned the most severe cases. Streamers BlessRNG (22,251followers), WarwitchTV (43,633) DreadedCone (75,879), Wolv21 (119,375) and iAmSp00n (249,656) have all been removed from Twitch.
According to a statement released last Wednesday, Twitch are working to access additional cases “as quickly as possible”.
Twitch said: “We’ve prioritised the most severe cases and will begin issuing permanent suspensions in line with our findings immediately.
“In many of the cases, the alleged incident took place off Twitch, and we need more information to make a determination. In some cases, we will need to report the case to the proper authorities who are better placed to conduct a more thorough investigation.”
Since then, users have been encouraged to come forward and share any relevant information linked to these accusations. These can be submitted anonymously through Twitch’s in-house reporting tools.
Furthermore, Mr Shear shared an internal e-mail last Tuesday, suggesting that in cases of misconduct, additional measures may be implemented, such as the removal of promotional opportunities and partnership status.
Mr Shear said: “This reckoning and industry-wide actions are overdue, and this is another issue that we, and the industry, need to address and to create lasting and positive change.”
Nevertheless, many streamers are unsatisfied with Twitch’s responsiveness to abuse allegations, alongside their response to streamers using racist, homophobic and transphobic language.
Victims also claim many have been fearful of speaking out against their abusers, in case they face reprisal or are blacklisted from the gaming industry.
Twitch claims it is working to create a “safer environment” by implementing technologies which pick up abusive language in usernames, live streams and messages.
Still, Twitch is not the only big name in the gaming industry facing allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. On the 22nd June, Techland announced it is no longer working with writer Chris Avellone, of Dying Light fame, following allegations of abuse. Reports have also come to light about “studio-wide sexism” at both Insomniac Games and Ubisoft.
All of these instances serve as a reminder that both society and the gaming industry still face a battle in derailing abuse and harassment.
Words by April Ryan