Violent game montages face demonetisation on YouTube

Let's Plays and livestreams are on safe ground, but "montages where gratuitous violence is the focal point" are not

YouTube videos featuring montages of violence from video games now run the risk of demonetisation.

Speaking to Polygon, a representative from YouTube said that popular video formats like livestreams and Let's Plays will not encounter any problems with demonetisation. However, montages that focus on acts of gratuitous violence or death might transgress the online platform's new, more stringent guidelines.

The representative admitted "understandable concern from creators about what they can and can't do," and that "the biggest complaint from creators is that these five guidelines don't give [them] enough context for producing videos."

YouTube's "advertiser-friendly" guidelines now offer greater clarity than before on use of violent images. On the specific subject of game violence, YouTube says this: "Violence in the normal course of video gameplay is generally acceptable for advertising, but montages where gratuitous violence is the focal point is not. If you're showing violent content in a news, educational, artistic, or documentary context, that additional context is important."

These changes follow a blog post last week in which the company described new guidelines around content suitable for advertising, in which three areas were highlighted as particular causes for concern: hateful content, incendiary and demeaning content, and inappropriate use of family entertainment characters.

In February this year, Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg was accused of creating anti-semitic video content; an allegation he denied, but one that ultimately led to his being dropped by Maker Studios and removed from YouTube's "preferred advertiser" platform.

The following month, YouTube faced an advertiser walkout after it was discovered that advertising had been placed alongside videos that would comfortably fit in the "hateful content" and "incendiary and demeaning content" categories. The company quickly pledged to improve its "brand safety controls," a process that Kjellberg later spoke out against for drastically reducing the amount of revenue creators were making on the platform.

"The reason people love YouTube is that it's free, it's open and you can say what you want. It's not like television," Kjellberg said in a video. "But it seems like YouTube is being forced to turn into television at this point. That's going to be bad for everyone."

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Latest comments (1)

Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ3 years ago
I would argue that, if you want to "say whatever you want", and you want to say things that advertisers or networks might not like, then you're still free to say it, just not to monetise it... ?

But yes, it does feel like the mainstream spaces of the internet will probably become more like television over years to come, as it becomes a central mainstream part of culture. Perhaps?

I just hope there'll always be independent, free spaces on the internet where people can "broadcast" whatever they want.

ie: I think it'd be a big shame if the internet became a place where only "companies" could broadcast content, on official channels.

This article really touches on the big question of...
* How responsible are the big "networks" like YouTube, Facebook, etc, for helping to curate the ethics of society? Do they have a responsibility to curate / check / sensor what people are saying, what "rises to the top" via the various algorithms, what gets blocked or banned, etc, etc.

This article kind of refers to an instance of this happening "via the sensitivities of advertisers", which actually translates to "via the safe, traditional values of decency and inoffensiveness."

And that does start to sound like a rounded-off, sanitized format, like television.

Let's just hope that the wild, chaotic, transgressive creativity of forces like Monty Python (who were broadcast on television back in the day, bless the BBC!) continue to exist and flourish in some form or other, on the internet and otherwise!
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