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Twitch policy on nudity a "disgrace" - Yang

Creator of Rinse and Repeat takes streaming service to task after it bans his shower simulator from broadcast

Twitch's list of games banned from broadcast has just 17 titles on it, including aggressively offensive fare like Hatred and RapeLay. It also has two free games from Robert Yang, Cobra Club and the recently released Rinse and Repeat. The former game is a virtual "dick pic" photo studio; the latter is a first-person game where players soap up buff men in the showers after gym class. Both feature frontal male nudity.

Yang responded to the bans in a blog post yesterday, taking Twitch to task for a system that would classify his work alongside more clearly distasteful titles.

"On one hand, it is extremely validating as an artist to be acknowledged as 'dangerous' -- thanks, Twitch. On the other hand, the Twitch policy about sex and nudity is shitty and I'm going to complain about why I hate it and feel it's unfair, and also really unhealthy for video games as an art form," Yang said.

The official Twitch rule about nudity in games is that it "can't be a core focus or feature of the game in question... Occurrences in game are okay, so long as you do not make them a primary focus of your stream and only spend as much time as needed in the area to progress the game's story."

Yang says that rule ignores the context of nudity in a game in order to focus on the quantity of nudity instead.

"That means Twitch treats my games exactly the same as the disgusting RapeLay, a game that I won't even bother describing here," Yang said. "This equivocation is offensive to me, when I focus heavily on ideas of consent, boundaries, bodies, and respect in my games."

(Yang has previously published artist's statements for both Cobra Club and Rinse and Repeat, describing his inspirations for the games and what issues he intended to explore with them.)

Yang went on to say that Twitch's policy effectively means that sex in games is acceptable when it is used for titillation and crass exploitation (as in the Dead or Alive series), but not when it is essential to a game's value as an artistic work. Given the somewhat tame activity of showering on display in Rinse and Repeat, Yang also suggested the ban raises a question of systemic homophobia in Twitch's policy.

"Gamers want so desperately for games to function as art, to witness games about the depth of human experience -- and here is Twitch, a crucial platform in games culture that had 44 percent livestreaming market share in 2014, insisting 'NO' -- games should only ever snicker about sex and nudity, like some stoned tweens clutching smuggled Hot Pockets in the back of a movie theater," Yang said. "The idea that nudity and sex are allowed on Twitch, only when it's tangential and exploitative, is a fucking disgrace. It sends conservative messages for what is allowed to be a 'real game,' and discourages artistic experimentation from developers for fear of being banned from Twitch."

Yang later amended the post, substituting "rather regrettable policy" for "fucking disgrace" in the above paragraph. He also called for Twitch to revise its policy to make artistic consideration a factor when deciding what games should be banned from broadcast. A Twitch representative had not returned a request for comment as of press time.

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Latest comments (24)

Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of Utah3 years ago
I think the time that went into this game just to make is a weak point is the larger disgrace.
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And what 'weak point' is that, Michael?

I find Robert Yang's work fascinating and important, personally. His approach to making games is deeply thoughful and truly artistic - even if on first glance it may seem flippant or bizarre. The games he makes are explorations of ideas - of identity, of masculinity, male sexuality and consent. They're not mass-market commercial enterprises; they are quite literally works of modern art.

I think it's sad that Twitch's policy on sexual content in games is so narrowly defined that it bans such intelligent, interesting works from its service. The policy is informed by social anxiety about human sexuality, of course, but it's still sad.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 25th September 2015 4:59pm

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Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee3 years ago
I never heard of the project until the controversy. Looks like pretty much everything is censored so I'm a little confused as to why it was taken down as being inappropriate. Its definitely true that other forms of sexuality depicted in games are given a free pass depending on a subjective point of view. That being said, there are other platforms that have taken a different approach and perhaps Twitch can learn from it.
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Show all comments (24)
Thomas Kennedy Unemployed (Seeking work) 3 years ago
I mean.....Why are twitch being lazy and not doing the hitbox method?

Basically Hitbox will let you stream anything game related BUT if you are gonna stream anything that might be along the lines of say, Hunipop or My Girlfriend is the president (Y'know, THOSE levels of games) then you have to toggle your channel for the content being 18+ or not (And this isn't a perminate thing, you can turn it on and off at any time.

I mean I get it, Twitch doesn't want this kind of stuff visable but you don't need to outright ban it, hiding it behind an age wall (and yes I know that means bugger-all this day and age but if its behind an age wall, its bypassed and the person complained, well the company warned flat out it has 18+ content so the fault is behind the one who decided "ima go through this age wall") would allow these games (And I mean like this guy's, not crap like Rapelay) to be played on streams.

Untill then I guess we'll need 1 account for twitch and 1 for hitbox for the 18+....
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
Cobra Club and the recently released Rinse and Repeat. The former game is a virtual "dick pic" photo studio; the latter is a first-person game where players soap up buff men in the showers after gym class. Both feature frontal male nudity.
So a dick pic photo game and a a rub down shower game got banned? How dare Twitch ban those. Just think of all the positive life lessons that could be learned from these games, such as the importance of good presentation and proper hygiene. We should start a peaceful protest outside the main Twich office while holding up signs of penises and naked beefy men. Then we can start a new movement called "Free The Penis photos".
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the importance of good presentation and proper hygiene
Excuse me a minute while my eyes roll out of my skull.

You clearly have never heard of these games before reading this article, so may I politely suggest you take five minutes to read the artists statement for Rinse And Repeat and consider what the game may actually be about besides a shallow reading of 'rub down shower game'.

If that's too much reading, please stop embarassing yourself by making flippant comments on something you haven't bothered to even try and understand.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
You clearly have never heard of these games before reading this article,
I think the same will be true of the majority of people who are seeing this on GIBiz for the first time so no arguments there.
so may I politely suggest you take five minutes to read the artists statement for Rinse And Repeat and consider what the game may actually be about besides a shallow reading of 'rub down shower game'.
I did read over the linked story for Rinse and Repeat(and Cobra Club too) and unless I missed something you are essentially playing so that you can rub a dude down in the shower. The rest is just filler until you get to that point.
If that's too much reading, please stop embarassing yourself by making flippant comments on something you haven't bothered to even try and understand.
I'm not sure why my comments rubbed(no pun intended) you the wrong way. It may have appeared flippant but very often the path to getting games(or movies, books, art, etc) such as this more readily accepted(in this case viewed on twitch) is accomplished through starting movements, having peaceful protest and making sure that dialogue gets expanded beyond the confines of whatever the normal audience that exist for the medium in which you are are speaking out against for some of it's policies. I know that "Free The Penis photos" doesn't sound super serious but it's based on a very real movement that I'm sure someone as knowledgeable as yourself is well aware of.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
...unless I missed something you are essentially playing so that you can rub a dude down in the shower. The rest is just filler until you get to that point.
I suspect that part of what Jessica is suggesting is that context is important. If all you can say about a game is a dismissive "it's just a game where you rub guys down in a shower", it's really not any different to describing 50% of the games industry's output as "it's just a game where you murder people".
No denying the truth of the statement, but it completely disregards context, and thus comes off as uninformed and dismissive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Wood on 26th September 2015 8:48am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
[Moderator edit: let's leave the hostility at the door, thank you...]

I'm glad they banned these streams. I couldn't give a monkeys fart about any "life lessons" that may be hidden here. I know nothing about these "games" but they apparently involve interactive experiences of playing with cocks. I'd prefer that my nephews and grandchildren get to that at the proper time, thanks all the same.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by a moderator on 29th September 2015 2:58pm

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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
Again, context is key. You can't just say "but what if they'd made a game about women in the shower?". Aside from the fact that it would be a game exploring an entirely unrelated subject as a result, it's also a question loaded to assume that such a game would simply be a regular ol' depiction of women as sexual objects for the entertainment of blokes. If it somehow, given its own relevant context, was a game exploring feminity and female sexuality from the point of view of women, it would likely be praised just as much from the same quarters as this game is.
The reason anyone criticises a game with female nudity typically isn't because it's a genuine attempt to explore female sexuality, it's because in most cases it's a cynical, shallow attempt to sell something using sexual imagery.
This game isn't doing that. It may be controversially exploring topics that make some men feel uncomfortable, but it isn't exploitative.

Lots of people like to throw around the whole "Look, a thing is objectifying men! You only complain about it when it happens with women! Double standards!" card. The joke is, if a game really did unironically, earnestly attempt to sell itself using "Phwoar! Get a load of the sexy men!", it'd be laughed at from all corners and treated as a joke game... the key reason anyone complains about when a game does that with women is because it's generally not treated as a joke by most people, it's treated as unremarkable, normal.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
I suspect that part of what Jessica is suggesting is that context is important. If all you can say about a game is a dismissive "it's just a game where you rub guys down in a shower", it's really not any different to describing 50% of the games industry's output as "it's just a game where you murder people".
No denying the truth of the statement, but it completely disregards context, and thus comes off as uninformed and dismissive.
I see your point but keep in mind that not every gamer who plays(or watches video of) a game is going to play it the way(or in the mind set) that the creator wants them playing it in. There are quite a few games where the creator is making a political statement or using it as an outlet to voice their frustration with some real world aspect of life for example. But the audience is either oblivious to this or just doesn't care.

So for me, someone who wouldn't generally play this type of game but still fully supports it's existence, I described it in it's basic form. Is there more to it in the creator's(and some who play it) eyes? Of course but to me it's still a game about rubbing dudes down in the shower and while there's nothing wrong with that I personally am not interested in the deeper context of the game. To me this thread was all about two games getting banned from twitch and the reason they were banned.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 26th September 2015 10:54pm

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David Vink Game Designer 3 years ago
I think a discussion about sexism could be a little out of place here, twitch might have also banned the game if it was exactly the same but with women.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
But the audience is either oblivious to this or just doesn't care.
It's the latter.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
So let me get your argument straight. Only if it's a man ogling a woman is it wrong but it's perfectly acceptable if it's any other combination.
That's not getting my argument straight, that's straw-man-ing my argument.
I'm not debating the acceptableness of using sexual imagery to sell something. I'm pointing out that context is important, and as such, it constitutes a fallacious argument to just swap out the sexes, and say that it would be argued differently if the game depicted women in place of men.

Only if it's a man ogling a women, with no deeper context than the use of base sexual imagery to sell a product, is it seen as completely normal and routine throughout the majority of modern society. Saying "but it would be celebrated rather than condemned if it were reversed" completely disregards the fact that it *isn't* reversed, and makes no sense if it's imagined to be... there isn't a massive societal acceptance that regards the sexual objectification of men as ordinary and unremarkable.

If you're intent on arguing from the point of view of a simple reversal, the only viable consideration would be, what if we somehow ended up at a point where society at large regarded the sexual objectification of men as exactly as ordinary and acceptable as it currently is for women?
What if indeed... but the world, at least currently, *isn't* like that, and my suspicion is that the same people who take issue with the current state of affairs wouldn't be in much of a celebrating mood if the world was like that either.

So, to actually get my argument straight - This is not a game that is simply slapping in some sexual imagery in order to sell more copies. Note, at no point have I actually cast judgement regarding the effectiveness of the game at exploring what it seeks to explore, as I haven't actually played it. I'm simply pointing out that to argue that people celebrating it are hypocritical because you imagine they would hold an opposite view if it swaped out men for women, disregards all context, and applies an unrelated imagined one instead, and therefore collapses as an argument.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
I think a discussion about sexism could be a little out of place here, twitch might have also banned the game if it was exactly the same but with women.
A discussion about sexism *is* out of place here, which is why it doesn't hold up as an arguement to consider "if it was exactly the same but with women"... it categorically wouldn't be the same if all you did was swap out men for women.
The issue, and only issue, relevant here is "should Twitch ban a game that seeks to explore issues of male sexuality?". There's plenty of valid discussion to be had on such a topic, but "they should ban it because they'd ban a game with women showering" is projecting issues of gender difference onto a topic that wasn't about gender differences in the first place.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Wood on 27th September 2015 1:09pm

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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
You're misrepresenting my argument in your own words, and then addressing your response to your own misrepresentation, rather than to the things I actually said. That is the literal definition of a straw-man argument.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
Heh. Speaking of Nintendo and showers... I'll just leave this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQa_sMKHs3c
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@John
"Twitch was recently bought by Nintendo and when that happened it was widely accepted that it was appropriate for them to ban adult orientated games. "

I don't know how I am the only one who is confused by this statement. Nintendo? When on earth did that happen? Twitch was bought by Amazon last I checked.

"Like I said in my first post. It has a right to be sold and promoted but not on a streaming service targeted towards children like Twitch."

And since when was twitch targeted towards children?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 28th September 2015 3:58am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany3 years ago
I'll never stop saying it, I'll never get over the idea of "thou shall not show impure nudity and genitalia into my streaming service. Oh? Dismemberment and decapitations in MKX? yeah, no problem with that..." I think that is quite the problem with priorities.
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Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of Utah3 years ago
I'll go ahead and chime back in.

It's true, I formed my opinion of the game based on this article, the developer's commentary, and the image posted here. I did no other research.

I probably have a much more conservative view of what should be streaming on Twitch than other people, but I'll just go ahead and say that a game entirely about men showering, nudity or no, doesn't sound like something I'd be interested in (See also: Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015). A game focused on showering that includes regular full frontal nudity, whether man, woman, or anything in between, I definitely don't believe should be on twitch. Yes, it's "for the children," but I really don't believe that's a bad thing.

Also, i would note that there is non-sexual nudity in many games that are permitted on Twitch. Paper, Please is a good example.

And if nothing else, the developer has probably gotten a lot more visibility for his games due to the controversy than they would have streaming on Twitch. And if they were on Twitch, it's much more likely they would be streamed in a joke "let's play the dickpics and shower games" rather than a honest appraisal of whatever sentiment the developer intended to portray. But maybe I'm just a pessimist.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany3 years ago
@Paul
I'm glad they banned these streams. I couldn't give a monkeys fart about any "life lessons" that may be hidden here.
Really man? Do you think that is the correct way to speak about other people's work? Specially after we read you here a lot of time complaining how your work was not appreciated/noticed in the past? Do you really think that is ok?

I'm sure the people behind the game are glad that you think this way. Also, we got the message: Game is ok to be banned from Twitch since you don't care about life lessons. That's very constructive indeed.

Edit: In fact, nevermind. You seems to believe that your circumstances gives you the right to disrespect people and bash other's work. Sorry sir, but the reality is other, and I don't have the mood to read you anymore.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 29th September 2015 10:05am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
It wouldn't be so bad if you could even find a quote of me slagging someone elses work. As for the rest, I'm glad for small mercies.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
In memory of that old Coke Light TV sport. Is there a game aimed at women in which the player manages a construction site (or base of sorts) and upgrading workers also means they wear less clothes?

As for Twitch, they probably do not give two cents about protecting the audience. They just cover their collective behinds from being sued. Being a U.S. company that is more likely to happen based on nudity than violence. Their aim is not to make sense, have reasonable rules, or be adult, their aim is to be safe.

As for the rest of us, I wager it takes more than a a dude of indeterminate sexual orientation wearing sunglasses in a public shower to weird out anybody in this thread. For all I know, that's how they roll at Konami health clubs.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
@Klaus: As if on cue: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe2ZW4boNqE

Roll, flip, sneak. Raiden's got you covered. Er, even if he's not. Konami strikes again!
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