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Blizzard investigating Twitch pilot program to help combat chat harassment

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'No place for racism, sexism, harassment' in gaming or anywhere else

Blizzard Entertainment is working with Twitch to fight back against harassment, racism and other online abuse experienced by players during live events following a recent incident during a live Hearthstone event, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime told Polygon.

"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," Morhaime said. "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."

As we detailed last week, a black competitor was the subject of abuse from commenters during a Twitch livestream of the major Hearthstone match. In reaction to the DreamHack episode, Morhaime said that Blizzard is working with the event organizers, Twitch and other partners to weed out discriminatory practices.

"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," he told Polygon. "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've reached out to Twitch for further details about the new program. Last week, we spoke to a representative for the streaming platform who told us that Twitch was looking into improved measures to mitigate incidents of abuse and discrimination during livestreams.

Morhaime acknowledged that these sorts of initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg, however.

"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."