YouTube sensation PewDiePie's rise to fame has been well documented across the world. The video game and viral video sensation has long been a favourite amongst fans for his outlandish approach to streaming. His playthrough series have racked up millions of views and led him to become one of the most profitable YouTube streamers of all time. Yet his recent actions have landed him in hot water, becoming involved in a series of issues related to racial slurs said during his broadcasts.
Indie game developer Sean Vanaman has announced on Twitter that his studio, Campo Santo, has issued a takedown against PewDiePie. Camp Santo are the studio behind the popular game Firewatch which rose to fame in early 2016. The takedown request has come after PewDiePie, otherwise known as Felix Kjellberg, was witnessed saying the N-word whist streaming PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
Vanaman took to Twitter to write how:
There is a bit of leeway you have to have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games, there’s also a breaking point.
Whilst playing on the popular game Battlegrounds Kjellberg was heard to be saying:
What a fucking n-! Sorry, but what the f*ck. What a f*cking asshole.
Kjellberg has previously uploaded videos featuring the game Firewatch which have been viewed over 5.7 million times. Kjellberg described the game as being a wonderful story driven game during his videos released in 2016. If Campo Santo decide to move forward with their planned copyright strike, it would mean the Digital Rights Millennium Act would be invoked as a means of protecting their copyright over Firewatch. The videos containing the game have since been taken down.
Kjellberg's popularity has grown over the years and has allowed him to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the YouTube community. The streaming industry has undergone a massive change in recent years and streamers such as Kjellberg have managed to profit vastly. This does not allow streamers such as Kjellberg the right to direct racist or derogatory language at other players. Although this may have been said in a joking, tongue-and-cheek way, the influence Kjellberg has over millions of viewers means actions such as this should not be tolerated. The video game industry suffers from a somewhat toxic ethos surrounding multiplayer communities and in an age where online abuse is so commonplace, the words chosen by Kjellberg in his streams can have a large knock on effect.
Kjellberg has yet to respond to the incident. Over the past year he has found himself caught up in a number of incidents regarding his choice of language. This has included jokes made about Jewish people, Nazi references and frequent disputes with mainstream media.
Vanaman wrote how he is:
Sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make.
He has also urged other developers to follow him and do the same. He described how he would be:
Be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a millionaire.
In the past, YouTubers have argued that them uploading footage of gameplay falls under the rights of fair use and allows the content creator to add comment, criticism and news value to the piece. Some allow YouTubers to upload their videos and monetize them whereas others rely on YouTube's automated system to claim the footage as their own, allowing them to claim the ad revenue from the video. Vanaman stated how he loves streamers and that:
I watch them daily and we sent out over 3000 keys to professional and amateur streamers of [Firewatch].
He wrote in his Twitter thread how:
All streaming is infringement but devs and pubs allow it because it makes us money too.
Is this reaction towards PewDiePie justifiable or a step too far?