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Blizzard, Twitch plan to act on abuse in livestream chat

After Hearthstone tournament marred by racist comments.

Blizzard has pledged to investigate a pilot programme that will crack down on abuse in Twitch's live chat.

Terrence Miller, aka TerrenceM.

It follows a high-profile incident during last week's DreamHack Austin Hearthstone tournament, where black finalist Terrence Miller was subjected to a torrent of racist abuse.

The volume of comments during Miller's match overwhelmed moderators, one of whom has since spoken out to detail how they were unable to control the situation.

10 mods were on duty during the match, but the ability for commenters to evade bans proved too much, even when further staff were called in.

Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime has now pledged to do more to tackle the issue, and in an interview with Polygon has said the company is investigating a Twitch pilot programme for better policing abuse.

"To help combat this type of behaviour during live events, we've reached out to players, streamers, and moderators, along with partners like Twitch, DreamHack, and others, to get consensus and collaborate on what to do differently moving forward," Morhaime said.

"We're investigating a pilot program Twitch has in the works to streamline moderation and combat ban evasion. We're also updating our esports tournament partner policies with a stronger system of checks, balances, and repercussions to provide a better chat experience around our content."

But technical solutions will only go so far, Morhaime concluded: the larger issues of combating racism and online abuse in general require effort from us all.

"This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels," he said. "We can only hope that when instances like this come to light it encourages people to be more thoughtful and positive, and to fully reject mean-spirited commentary, whether within themselves or from their fellow gamers.

"We believe these are important steps to take to help address the related issues, but we acknowledge that they only address part of the problem. This is ultimately an industry-wide issue, and it will take all of us to make a real impact."

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