Robert Yang has again run into problems on Twitch, with the ubiquitous online streaming service adding his latest release, Radiator 2, to its list of banned games.
Two of Yang's games, Cobra Club and Rinse and Repeat, were added to the relatively short list in September last year, prompting Yang to speak out against what he saw as Twitch's "unhealthy" policies around sexuality and nudity. With the banning of Radiator 2, though, Yang's work now represents around 10% of all games banned from Twitch, grouping it with products like RapeLay, Battle Rape and The Maiden Rape Assault: Violent Semen Inferno.
"I am now the third-most-banned game developer from Twitch," Yang said in a blog post. "But this latest ban is new even for me: the games bundled in Radiator 2 are actually kinda old! For the past year and a half of press coverage, interviews, game festivals, art exhibitions and viral videos, these games were OK to broadcast on Twitch.
"With this move, Twitch has now banned basically everything I've made. Now, nowhere is safe for me as a creator"
"I had thought I found a safe ground of 'acceptable sexuality' (an extremely dangerous concept in of itself) but with this move, they've now banned basically everything I've made. Now, nowhere is safe for me as a creator.
"What's too gay for them, what's too sexual for them? Why did they change their mind when I re-mastered my games and put them on Steam? I have no idea, and that's the biggest problem: Twitch never says anything. No e-mail, no notification, no rationale, no reason, no pity tweet. Am I just supposed to keep refreshing the ban list page to see if they banned me, for every single game I make, forever?
"This is humiliating and dehumanising treatment, and I wish Twitch would stop it."
Yang discussed this issue in a micro-talk at GDC this year, where he accused Twitch of keeping its policies deliberately vague as a method of control, and applying different standards to games released by larger companies. Yang has raised the same point here, highlighting the "distasteful" sexual content in Ubisoft's South Park: The Stick of Truth as one example of a game that Twitch has no issue with, and CD Projekt's The Witcher 3 as another,
"Maybe Twitch simply wants to 'protect the children', so that's why they ban my games?" Yang asked. "That must be why they allows broadcast of countless M-rated games, games like The Witcher 3 - which hinges its brand on its sexually charged dark edgy fantasy politics, and even makes players walk through a house decorated with murdered raped women as the climax of an important quest."
"This is humiliating and dehumanising treatment, and I wish Twitch would stop it"
In these cases, Yang argued, Twitch seems content to allow users to exercise control over their own experience through its "Mature Content" setting, but those interested in his own work are denied the same opportunity. As it stands, Twitch's guidelines are more lenient on sexual content when it isn't a primary focus of the game, which Yang believes, "makes absolutely no sense," while sending, "conservative messages for what is allowed to be a 'real game.'"
Yang has suggested that Twitch make three changes to its policies: better communication about the reasons for banning a game; the introduction of a formal, transparent appeals process; the introduction of a "Restricted Games" category that can accommodate games with sexual content and nudity.
"If games are a form of art and protected speech, the great bold new artform of the 21st century, then could we all please, at least, wring our hands a bit more about banning games?
"Do you know what offends me more than being banned? It's Twitch's cold shoulder attitude about banning everyone. If they were on a genuine anti-sex morality crusade, at least that would mean they cared about it. Instead, their silence and inconsistency just gives me the distinct impression of not giving a shit, which would be fine if only they weren't so important to the future of game culture."