With DreamHack and ECS underway, last week looked set to be a pretty decent one for CS:GO, with many big games and great names on show. Things aren’t always that s1mple: while EG, Liquid, Astralis and others were pulling up trees in the server, 2018’s best player was having a little stream, getting himself in the sort of trouble CS:GO seems to be attracted to.
For those who aren’t massive fans, and haven’t followed his career, s1mple has one of the most famous histories of toxicity of any big player. While the transgressions of other ‘gods’ of Global Offensive have been successfully swept under the carpet, s1mple was very good, very young, and as a result, faced the sort of scrutiny that others did not. And, to be honest, he has said some pretty toxic stuff in the past, for no reason.
This time he received a thirty-day Twitch ban for his use of a Russian slang term that is normally homophobic in nature, pidor, which apparently has roots in the word ‘pederast’. This is not the first time he has been banned by Twitch, and he’s not the first streamer to be banned for this sort of language, with porcine KEEMSTAR impersonator and CS:GO streamer mOE also having been suspended for using similarly hateful language in English.
Ignoring the fact this isn’t s1mple’s first ban for use of this exact word, perhaps the most worrying part of the whole affair has been the reaction, with swathes of fans saying s1mple should jump ship to a ‘better’ platform, and the player himself describing the ban as being ‘for nothing’. What is worse is the fact big names in the scene have decried this as ‘political correctness’ and being restricted in terms of what you can say, which is not only thoughtless, but short-sighted with the future of the game in mind.
Many of the responses from CS:GO fans urged s1mple to consider moving to another platform, like Mixer, who recently broke the bank to bring in both Shroud and Ninja, but the idea any other platform wants that sort of language being broadcast is borne out of fantasy. The terms of service on all big platforms ask you not to use hate speech (for obvious reasons) and s1mple isn’t on the level of the aforementioned pair as a streamer – either in terms of audience or public profile – even before you get to the prejudicial language.
As we said above, this isn’t the first time this has happened to a CS:GO player or personality, and in the past we’ve seen others defend the use of similar slurs. From those pundits who like to point out that some words have ‘other’ meanings – as though any teenage rager is calling someone a bundle of sticks – to s1mple’s own claim that ‘context matters’, there are many who will argue that this should not result in a ban, and they are all wrong.
The key factor here is that Twitch is a privately owned platform that allows you to broadcast to the public, and as a result the owners of Twitch set the rules. When Twitch sets their guidelines, they aren’t doing it just for the hardcore gamers who have been using racial slurs or homophobic abuse in jest for years, but for the entire community on Twitch, most of who fully understand that such words are unacceptable for any reasonable adult to use.
In the case of people like mOE, it’s even more egregious, as Twitch is his primary source of income, making it essentially his place of work. Anyone who thinks they could go into an office and casually drop a slur without consequence has probably never worked a day in their life, so the idea that doing it on stream should be different makes zero sense. The problem for CS:GO isn’t the existence of anachronistic dinosaurs like mOE though, but the reaction to the bans.
The fact is that there is no intelligent way to defend the use of prejudicial language in 2019, and attempting to do so not only reflects poorly on you as a person, but also on CS:GO as a game. While we debate whether the word ‘terrorist’ holds us back, there can be no doubt incidents like this, mOE’s, Sadokist’s and others do far more harm, and the sooner we stamp out the mindset that ‘it’s ok, just banter’, the better it will be for the health of the scene.