Jessica S. April 11, 2019
Twitter user @Yes_ItsRose posted a disturbing video highlighting both sexism and racism in a recent Overwatch match.
The two-minute video depicts Rose playing Mercy in her match. While trying to heal she is badgered with racist remarks about her skin color. Several members of her team even hone in on the color of her skin being the reason for her “mediocre” gameplay.
When one teammate tries to stand up for Rose and tell the offenders that they are being disrespectful, they respond by escalating their toxicity with even worse racial slurs.
Developer Blizzard, who is normally silent about such reports, spoke up in response to the video.
“Thank you and those others who shared this report. While we won't be able to share any specifics, we did want to let you know that we will be looking into this,” Blizzard said on Twitter.
Videos like this are unfortunately not uncommon, and many female gamers are unable to move into the competitive scene because of this kind of behavior. And it isn’t always possible to simply mute the offenders since communication at higher levels and into the professional scene is so essential.
Twitter user ohadelaide expanded on this challenge.
“‘Just mute them.’ Oh okay, so you want ME to sacrifice MY gameplay in a team-based game that revolves around good communication instead of actually addressing the real problem here, got it,” the user said.
While Blizzard knows about and is actively grappling with the situation, many fans are calling for transparency in issues like this one. Players sometimes get a notification that actions were taken in response to a report, but some players would like to see detailed results such as what kind of ban the offending players are receiving. Many are calling for even harsher consequences for every incident like this one, and not just for cases that gain traction on social media.
In an effort to reduce toxicity and promote effective and polite communication, Overwatch implemented an endorsement system that reduced toxic behavior by about 40 percent. Regardless, these videos and anecdotal reports from people of color and women remain common and show little sign of letting up any time soon.