Oh Twitch chat. We love you, we hate you. But what to make of you? How to fix you? Twitch chat has simultaneously been host to some of the greatest social experiments, and the biggest failures of internet gaming subculture. It seems that Twitch has at least some ideas on how to make chat better, as they've made yet another stellar innovation.
On Monday December 12, 2016, Twitch announced that it was introducing better moderator tools for broadcasters to use, specifically in the form of AutoMod, which it hopes will help promote a more positive environment for broadcasters. The announcement comes on the same day that Twitch is broadcasting a gaming marathon from The White House.
Streamers on Twitch now will select from four different levels under the following categories:
- Sexual language
- Aggressive speech
If a message gets flagged under one of these categories (depending on the level selected by the broadcaster), it will go to moderators before it gets into chat, so that it doesn't influence the rest of the stream watchers, and no one else has to see awful, hateful, degenerate nonsense in the chat bar.
In general, Twitch is a positive experience for viewers and broadcasters, with chat providing positive and humorous commentary. But this move is likely in response to some of the times where the evolution of technology has given way to a de-evolution of social progress on Twitch's platform.
In May 2016, there was an unfortunate incident of relative unknown Hearthstone player Terrence Miller making a deep run at Dreamhack Austin. While this should have been a joyous occasion, there was a plethora of racial slurs and derogatory comments made throughout his appearance in the tournament in Twitch chat, and even with the outstanding moderation team, there wasn't enough they could do to stem the hate.
This lead both Twitch and Blizzard to speak up about injustice, and it was clear that since this incident, some change has been brewing.
"We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last. One of our company values is “Play Nice; Play Fair”; we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community."
- Mike Morhaime, CEO Blizzard
But let's not forget the great things that Twitch chat has produced as well. In February 2014, TwitchPlaysPokemon was launched and became an internet phenomena, with Twitch chat, somehow working together to complete Pokémon Red in under a month's time. The stream attracted millions of viewers, close to 10% of which actually participated in the hilarious social experiment.
Even more heartwarming was the tale of Twitch's launch of it's Creative initiative and the Bob Ross marathon that correlated with the kick off. Thousands of viewers flocked to the stream both a sense of nostalgia for those who watched Bob in the 1980s, and for a new generation that hadn't been captivated by his "happy little accidents."
The chat was overwhelmingly positive and warm and the stream was so successful that Twitch has continued broadcasting Bob Ross to this day.
Twitch continues to make community-centric moves and attract new broadcasters, and AutoMod is just another example of Twitch leveling up broadcaster tools so that everyone wins.
Hopefully with the implementation of AutoMod, Twitch can further embrace the light side of the internet, and continue spreading a positive gaming experience to viewers everywhere.
Do you watch Twitch? Do you think AutoMod will make a difference?