The Navy turned off text chat for today’s ‘Women of Warzone’ boot camp Twitch stream, so some viewers took to spamming the chat with bomb and fire emojis instead.
The boot camp sessions were in preparation for a $10,000 prize pool Call of Duty Warzone tournament, open to the public, that the Navy will be hosting on March 8. “In celebration of International Women’s Day, America’s Navy has chosen to champion the amazing Women of Warzone,” reads a description of the event, sort of like the “Hire More Women Guards” meme had a baby with Steve Buscemi in a backwards cap holding a skateboard.
Today’s livestream included several rounds of Warzone punctuated by brief interviews with a cheerful host sitting in front of stuffed Pikachus asking questions about things like how the game’s focus on teamwork mirrored the Navy’s own. All the while the Twitch chat was full of “CurseLit” and “TwitchRaid” emotes resembling missiles and flames respectively, seemingly as a running commentary from those who oppose using video games and Twitch to promote the military.
Various branches of the U.S. military have incorporated gaming into their recruitment campaigns for decades, and streaming on Twitch is the latest frontier in those efforts, one which has occasionally been met by resistance by those seeking to highlight the long list of injustices and alleged war crimes associated with the nation’s fading imperial project. Last year this backlash led the Army to temporarily abandon using Twitch altogether, and the Navy to create new media training for its streamers instructing them on how to address questions about war crimes when they arise in chat.
For today’s stream the Navy dispensed with allowing questions altogether, instead forcing the over 500 viewers, like one named AntifaWarrior, to communicate solely via emoji. On Twitter, which hasn’t yet banned text chat, users had more options. “Women of Warcrimes?” wrote one.