Pro Smite streamer and commentator Brandon "DM Brandon" Nance is resigning from his position with developer Hi-Rez Studios after reacting to a viewer's donation message with a acerbic rant about suicide and depression. Brandon Nance has been a tournament caster for Hi-Rez Studios since March of 2013, regularly streaming the game via Twitch. He's built a strong following in the Smite community, with nearly 80,000 followers on Twitch.
Nance also has a reputation for being outspoken and blunt. Responding to an incident last year in which he went off on a player for poor performance, Nance wrote, "I have always been loud, abrasive, and I don't know how to change it. I don't know that I would."
During a streaming session on Monday, April 18, Nance received a $US5 ($6) charity donation from a viewer, accompanied by the message, "I tried killing myself last August, discovered your videos once I was released, and Smite has become a positive outlet for me. Thanks."
Nance did not respond well to the donation message.
"There are a lot of streamers out there who would appreciate that message," Nance began. "I'm just going to call you an asshole. It's a selfish, stupid thing to do."
In the clip below (via Eurogamer) the stream recording then jumps to Nance responding to critical comments in chat.
"Suicide is not selfish. You are a terrible person," read Nance from the Twitch comments. "Well you can find another streamer to watch, suicide is very selfish.
"Everyone has loved ones. Family. Parents. If you kill yourself with another person on the planet that cares about you, you're being a selfish prick, plain and simple. If you don't like my opinion about that you can find somewhere else to watch who's going to tell you that killing yourself is OK. Go fuck yourself, kid."
Nance's rant then moved to the topic of depression.
"I'm so sick of this constant, ridiculous self-pity bullshit like 'I have depression I can't do anything in life.' Everyone has fucking depression and anxiousness. Everyone has a hard time fucking waking up, and still a lot of us do it without putting the burden on a lot of other people. There is therapy, there are friends and there are people to help you.
"And if you decide that you're going to end your own life or let these ridiculous fucking debilitating disease ruin your life because you don't know how to deal with it, well then fucking good."
It goes on like that for a while. Then there's a brief bit on freedom of speech. Then Nance circled back around to the person who wrote the initial message.
"And to the person that made the message, I hope you realise that I'm not trying to personally attack you. I'm trying to wake you up a little bit."
The rant drew criticism from all corners of the Smite community and beyond. While most of the comments I've read (especially on the YouTube video) condemn Nance's behaviour, many of the comments found on Reddit or in the official Smite forums agree with his message, just not the way he got it across.
On Tuesday Brandon Nance resigned from Hi-Rez Studios. In a lengthy message posted via Twitter, he said that while he could weather the hate from his comments, he did think his employer should have to deal with it.
As for yesterday: I couldn't believe what I said. Because I didn't mean it and I certainly did not mean for it to come out as it did. I couldn't understand how I fucked that up so badly. The stress levels of trying to juggle this lifestyle while keeping up appearances at events, and everything on top got to the point where I was actually fucking up what I meant to say. But please don't point your hate at others for my mistake.
In the message Nance said he will continue to focus on streaming and charity work, planning on moving from Atlanta where Hi-Rez Studios is located back to New Jersey.
In a follow-up message today, Brandon Nance said that he himself suffered from depression. The message includes personal details regarding a family tragedy Nance suffered in 2009, a story meant to give some background into why he is the way he is and why he reacted to the suicide comment the way he did.
When you tell me that you're thinking of hurting yourself, I go blind. I say things I don't mean. I do things I don't mean. Because I get irrational. I get angry and I lose control. Shit, that's why I get so mad at games. Losing, to me, is failure, and I can't fail. I have too much riding on all of this.
The first thing I did after I saw my mistake was email the person who wanted to celebrate their life through that donation and I apologised.
The message concluded with a plea for forgiveness.
Now, as much as I want to hide in a hole and never come out, I have to go keep working. Not for myself, but for the people whom I live for. I was wrong in my approach, and I hope you'll forgive me.
Approached for comment on this story, Hi-Rez Studios president Stew Chisam gave Kotaku the following statement:
"At Hi-Rez, we care about our community deeply and we take topics like suicide, depression and mental illness not lightly. All our employees are free in their opinions, but when people don't respect the values we stand for as a company, we treat it seriously.
"If any good comes from this episode, we hope it shines a light on mental illness issues, and the need for broader education, support and open conversation about how these devastating illnesses are perceived and discussed in our society. All of us have important people in our lives that have been touched by mental illness. How we talk about these diseases is important."
In response to the incident Hi-Rez Studios made a contribution to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, encouraging others to do the same.
If depression is affecting you or someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.