Last week, Twitch announced its new Safety Advisory Council, which was implemented to help its users with some of the most divisive issues which include work-life balance, protection of marginalized groups and safety and moderation. In just one week, the council has run into problems.
At the forefront of the controversy has been streamer Steph “FerociouslySteph” Loehr. It all started when Loehr, a member of the council, voiced her opposition for voice chat in competitive games. “The only way to have a level playing field at the highest level of play is to not have voice chat to not have people give out their linguistic profiles,” she said. “If you are a competitive gamer and people have been like ‘Steph, you know nothing about competitive play’ well, competition requires you to get every advantage possible. To become the top .01% in any video game, you have to squeeze every amount of advantage you can possibly get. Voice chat is unfair. Period.”
The clip began trending on Twitch’s homepage. Many gamers flocked to her stream berating her with comments. Loehr stood strong that voice chat can reveal someone for who they are and lead them to be harassed. “If you use voice chat, you’re revealing your linguistic profile, your voice, which can open you up to being harassed or considered less of a good player, because there are systemic issues with our society and how people treat nonstandard voices,” she said. “So there is an inclusivity cost to voice chat, and if you want to get more marginalized gamers with nonstandard voices to be professional players, you have to address this.”
Loehr noted that serving on the council has brought on a lot of stress for her, which was one of the things the Safety Advisory Council was intended to prevent.