Let’s try to get through this without screaming, shall we?
Professional gaming is a growing industry. Both the competitive side of it, known as esports, and the entertainment side of it, professional streaming, have grown exponentially in recent years. But like both traditional sports and video games in general, the professional gaming community has not been the most welcoming place for, or .
On July 1st, 2018, a popular streamer — and former professional player of the shooter game Counter-Strike — called m0E was banned from Twitch for saying the word “faggot” on a stream. In a clip from his stream you can hear him asking the people he is playing with if the word is offensive.
“I’m going to try to stop saying faggot, but it’s one of my favorite words of all time,” m0E said. “It’s not a bad word. It has a lot of meanings.”
His friends replied by telling him that it was offensive, but that they continued to use things like the r-word to call people out. “Same,” m0E continued. “I use the word faggot to call people retards.”
A masterful use of the English language.
Multiple people have come to the defense of m0E, and specifically expand upon his point that the origin of the word has multiple meanings. A popular esports analyst, Thorin, tweeted that “SJW types” were trying to remove the history and etymology of the word, when really, its history isn’t even homophobic.
Thorin goes on to list various definitions of the word that have existed throughout history. The most popular one that most people probably heard throughout middle school is “bundle of sticks.” Besides the fact that the logic here is flawed — as most people know, connotation and denotation are different things — it’s also extremely short-sighted.
Yes, the word faggot at one point meant a bundle of sticks. But do you know what it meant after that? It was a word used to describe the sticks that were used to burn someone alive. As thesays, people would be forced to carry those sticks as a mark of shame. Words don’t come out of nowhere.
Even if that history wasn’t there, we all know what slurs mean — especially in a gaming context. This points to a larger issue within gaming and esports. Other professional analysts, likeand , showed support for Thorin’s original thought. All of these people are paid by gaming companies to commentate and host their events. Both MonteCristo and Semmler work for the Overwatch League. Overwatch is an incredibly and it even has a lesbian character on its box art.
MonteCristo specifically used the phrase “tyranny of language” when describing people who were offended by the word being used.
It is genuinely vile that the OWL has an analyst who'll imply that Twitch banning someone for using a homophobic slur is trying to "enforce a tyranny of language." This is deeply fucking gross dude.
— Dickless van Dyke (@Hoeyboey) July 2, 2018
This kind of language and attitude has existed in esports (and gaming) for a long time, but with Overwatch it is extra alarming. With m0E and other professional streamers, it is up to their sponsors and platforms to handle the offensive language they use. But with Overwatch, we have a game that has an openly LGBT character and a fan base that is extremely queer. One of the teams in the Overwatch League even partnered withduring Pride month. Yet, we have people who are defending the use of homophobic slurs.
love too not only alienate broad swathes of OWL's community with tortuous defenses of bigots, but also make OWL appear hostile and unwelcoming to the new audiences it desperately needs to survive https://t.co/EPbKZukl0e
— will partin 🍗 (@william_partin) July 2, 2018
In addition to the ethical argument about how slurs should be treated, there is also a capital argument to be made. As Will Partin, esports historian and consultant, points out, the League needs this audience. As Partin suggests, this industry is still relatively new and the Overwatch League specifically is a test for how the industry will grow. They need every fan they can get and with this attitude amongst their ranks, they’re not going to get them.