GaymerX had lots of opportunities to game with people from around the world, but it also had tons of great panels dedicated to LGBT issues in gaming. One such panel that I was looking forward to was the Twitch panel titled Gaymers x Twitch: Creating a Positive LGBTQ Community. I played a hand in helping start up Destructoid’s Twitch.tv channel and have actually started up our very own GayGamer.net channel that we have great plans for (shameless plug, check it out and subscribe!). Hit the jump to learn more about this panel!
The panel began with Jared Rea, Twitch’s community manager and my favorite Bridget cosplayer/karaoke addict, talking about all the different content you can find on the site. He mentioned that one criticism that has been given to the site in general is the apparent bullying and homophobia of many of the commentors, or “stream monsters”. So Twitch as a company decided to reach out to several broadcasters to find out if this was the case. According to the people that they talked to, most of the bullying that happened wasn’t really coming from a place of homophobia but really people just being “jerks on the internet”.
However, this issue, as well as Samantha Allen’s Open Letter to Games Media (highly suggested read, and you can check out our follow up interview with Samantha Allen by clicking here) pushed Twitch to think about what they could do to minimize bullying and make the community more inclusive. There were several ideas that are currently in the works, such as having more verification options for accounts. Currently, if a viewer is being a horrible waste of space and is banned from a channel, it’s really easy for that person to just make another account and continue being horrible. They are currently exploring the ability to have various verification options, such as phone number or credit card accounts, that would make it much harder for people to have multiple accounts. A broadcaster will have the option to only allow people who have these verifications to join the chat room and thus a ban from that channel would be more permanent.
The other idea under consideration was expanding their list of permanent banning words to include LGBT slurs such as the “hard F”. However during the Q & A portion many people mentioned that its the context of the word and not the word itself that the problem. In fact, some people said that banning the word altogether would get in the way of people who actually use it as a form of self-identity. Upon this discussion, Jared totally welcomed the conversation and actually requested that the audience members stay a bit after the panel so that he could get more direct feedback on this issue.
GaymerX was a huge success not only because of the great community aspect and the gaming that occurred but also because conversations such as the one above could take place. I have to give huge props to Jared Rea and Twitch as a company for asking the LGBT community how they can make their site and community more inclusive. It’s great to see them putting in the work to get it right. I sincerely hope that next year at GaymerX-2 (which is what I’m calling it), other companies and developers take advantage of this opportunity to meet face to face with the LGBT community and have similar conversations.