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If you've ever played the famed Blizzard online game #Overwatch, there's no doubt that you've encountered some major jerks. It's a multiplayer FPS that is still in its infancy compared to other esports titles, but like any game that's gaining in popularity, it has an issue with toxic players in competitive matches. In other words, those who delve into the world of competitive play may end up getting grouped with people who think it's acceptable to behave like vile brats.
The latest culprit is Toronto Esports pro Matt "Dellor" Vaughn, who spewed toxic vulgarities and effectively ended his career in the process. Over the weekend, the 28-year-old went off on a seemingly endless racist rant during a ranked match that was being live streamed, in which for nearly 30 uninterrupted seconds he continuously dropped the N-word. And with that, career over. Click here to see the racist outburst.
In response to Vaughn's vicious tirade, president of Toronto Esports Ryan Pallet issued the following statement:
Toronto Esports is an organization built on inclusivity, and we have always had a zero- tolerance policy for any forms of discrimination. Immediately upon learning of the incident, the player was interviewed, admitted to the offence, and was notified that his contract with the organization was being terminated.
An Apology Or A Lame Excuse From The Former Overwatch Pro?
If you're familiar with #esports, you'll know the games that are played to determine competitive global ranking are intense and often heated affairs. But this is no excuse for Vaughn's behavior. While he has since released a statement apologizing for his racial outburst, it reads more as a bitter fauxpology:
I fucked up and deserve to be dropped from Toronto Esports, I won't try to argue or make an excuse, I don't have any. I just want people to know what happened. I was having a really bad day. Didn't get much sleep, twitch wouldn't work for 2 hours after I woke up, and once it finally did, my internet was lagging. So I was pretty upset from the moment I woke up.
Then I get into a game against a widowmaker who is blatantly cheating. Everything was whatever, I've dealt with cheaters before, but when him and his entire team, and MY entire team start talking shit, it gets to me. I snapped. This isn't the first time this has happened. I have anger problems.
The only thing I can say is that despite me using that word, I am not a racist. I was extremely upset, and I was trying to make the person I was angry with upset as well, and so I said the most offensive thing that came to mind.
I fucked up, I have no excuse. Toronto Esports is a great organization and I am sorry to them for tarnishing their name. I've put my entire life into gaming/esports and this has been a massive wake up call.
But this turn of events highlights a glaring issue that seems to permeate the online gaming industry. What should you do if you encounter someone like Vaughn while playing a multiplayer game? Should you report them or ignore them?
Blizzard Vowed To Take Action In 2016
If you remember last year's DreamHack Austin event that was streamed on Twitch, you may recall that Terrence "TerrenceM" Miller played one of his best runs in Hearthstone, and even set a new performance record for himself, finishing second to Keaton" Chakki" Gill.
But as a #Hearthstone pro gamer and true sportsman, Miller was shocked when his blistering efforts were pulled apart by a torrent of racist abuse directed at him by a segment of viewers during his Twitch chat.
The failure of the #Twitch moderators to control the situation was later finger-pointed in a statement by Blizzard president Michael Morhaime:
We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last. One of our company values is “Play Nice; Play Fair”; we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community. This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels. 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.
To help combat this type of behavior 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. To that end, we’re investigating a pilot program that 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.
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.
Long story short, #Blizzard is no longer tolerating bullshit and neither are the esports teams. Toxicity and hatred are a very real problem, no matter what online game you play.