The Games Done Quick speedrunning charity marathon started up this weekend. The event, coming off years of increased runner and chat-related controversy, has taken extra steps to keep their chat free from spam and trolls. Their solution has drawn anger from fans and led to short lived chat alternatives that are quickly banned.
Before this year, Games Done Quick didn't restrict their chat, so it was common for viewers to spam memes, mock minorities, and generally misbehave. Last year, GDQ chat banned an emote depicting a bearded lady that chat would spam anytime a transgender individual was on stream. While some viewers found this type of environment exciting, others were quick to hide the chat entirely.
It was so bad that a special site was made last year specifically for the purpose of filtering the chat and making it tolerable for viewers.
In order to crack down on chat spam and poor behaviour, the organisers of Games Done Quick have put their Twitch chat into "subscribers only" mode for the duration of Awesome Games Done Quick 2018. The mode prevents casual viewership from talking in chat unless they have subscribed to the channel with a $US5 ($6) dollar monthly pledge or a free subscription earned through Amazon Prime.
It is a decision that's upset viewers looking to chat without restrictions or spending their and lead many of them to host the stream so fans could chat freely. Hosting is a Twitch feature that allows streamers to broadcast another stream on their channel while allowing viewers to interact in that channel's chat.
An image from GDQ_Poverty's channel, which has been banned by Twitch.
The largest of these channels was GDQ_Poverty, a channel with became the go-to place for viewers looking to chat about the marathon without having to adhere to the official stream's rules or pay the requisite $US5 ($6) fee.
"I just made this account on a whim in order to avoid having to (ridiculously) pay for a subscription to the official GDQ channel in order to chat with everyone else," GQQ_Poverty creator Tatortotts said in a statement on Reddit.
"For the first half-hour or so it was very nice, everyone was civil and excited to be able to use their favourite emotes. Word of the channel spread quickly, though, and soon the chat became a constant flood of emotes and spam."
As the stream grew and more viewers flocked to it, moderation became next to impossible and the chat was soon flooded with comments that led to a ban for hate speech according to Tatortotts. Additional streams including the channel GDQ_Plebs and a re-hosted stream from user Forsenlol were also shutdown.
In a statement (h/t Polygon) GDQ staff responded to concerns about the chat with the following statement:
"We take moderation seriously and want to maintain a positive atmosphere in all of our events, especially as we are representing the charities we are benefiting. As Games Done Quick has grown over the years, our channel has now been averaging between 100k-150k concurrent viewers, and moderating a channel of this size has been extremely difficult. We're currently exploring options to alleviate the situation and have opted to make the chat for AGDQ this year subscription-only. All GDQ subscription revenue in January will be donated to Prevent Cancer Foundation."
"Anyone is welcome to host the GDQ event as long as they're not blocked by or banned from the hosted channel and do not violate our Community Guidelines," a representative of Twitch said in a statement to Kotaku via email.
"The majority of channels hosting GDQ have done so without issue."
Meanwhile, in the Games Done Quick chat, viewers seem split about whether the subscription only mode has been a positive change or not. While chat commentary focuses on the speedruns and what is happening on the stream, occasional arguments crop up with some people insisting that non-subscriber "plebs" be let in.
Others have taken to spamming the chat even though it is against a rule specifying "no excessive ascii or copypasta spam."
For now, GDQ's chat alternates between enthusiastic commentary and pseudo-memetastic chants regarding the subscriber mode. The change to subscribers only had largely removed hostile and offensive content from chat.
However, the sudden change from previous marathons along with bans levied against channels rehosting the stream have created a new problem for chat that will likely last the entire marathon.