Last week I wrote about Rinse & Repeat, a funny, yet poignant shower sim about various aspects of gay culture and man's relationship to video games. Now, that game has been banned from Twitch.
Rinse & Repeat developer Robert Yang found this turn of events mildly flattering, but ultimately damaging.
"On one hand, it is extremely validating as an artist to be acknowledged as 'dangerous' -- thanks, Twitch," Yang said on his blog. "On the other hand, the Twitch policy about sex and nudity is s***ty 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 artform."
First off, Yang cited Twitch's own rules of conduct regarding nudity in games:
"Sexually explicit acts or content: Nudity can't be a core focus or feature of the game in question and modded nudity is disallowed in its entirety. 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."
"This is a blanket ban on any game that is popular enough to get Twitch management's attention, and heavily features nudity," Yang said. "It erases the context of the work and ignores how the nudity is presented, instead focusing on a nonsensical formal distinction where 'nudity is okay if it's only a fraction of the game.'"
As such, Yang found it insulting that Twitch would provide the same parameters to all games regardless of context. "This equivocation is offensive to me, when I focus heavily on ideas of consent, boundaries, bodies, and respect in my games."
"But what really pisses me off is that my games actually earn their nudity, and cannot function as artistic works without it. Then here comes Twitch, which argues that some blue alien chick boobs in Mass Effect are okay to broadcast because they're obviously there for some bulls*** titillation? The totally unnecessary exploitative bulls*** of Dead or Alive babes, or Metal Gear Solid's Quiet, is somehow more appropriate than a game about consensually scrubbing a guy's back? (While we're at it, let's add a dash of systemic homophobia into the mix.)"
Yang went on to cite Vimeo and even YouTube as offering more understanding rules for artists to abide by.
Vimeo stated "we allow depictions of nudity and sexuality that serve a clear creative, artistic, aesthetic, or narrative purpose."
YouTube similarly stated, "A video that contains nudity or other sexual content may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic, and it isn't gratuitously graphic."
"Gamers want so desperately for games to function as art, to witness games about the depth of human experience," Yang said. "And here is Twitch, a crucial platform in games culture that had 44 per cent 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."
"The idea that nudity and sex are allowed on Twitch, only when it's tangential and exploitative, is a f***ing 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."
"If Twitch wants to exercise some leadership here, and add some nuance to their policy to allow for case-by-case artistic consideration, that'd be great," Yang concluded. "Or, you know, Twitch can keep clutching its hot pockets and keep treating my games exactly the same as super gross exploitative rape simulator fantasies."
We've asked Twitch if it will consider amending its policy regarding nudity and if there's any chance it will reinstate Rinse & Repeat, but the streaming video company said that it does not comment on terms of service violations.