Twitch Removes 'Blind Playthrough' Tag After Disability Criticism

Illustration for article titled Twitch Removes 'Blind Playthrough' Tag After Disability Criticism
Image: Twitch

Since 2018, Twitch has had a tag system that allows streamers to categorize their broadcasts according to their content’s contents and give viewers an at-a-glance idea of what they’re about. Tags also tie into Twitch’s still-rudimentary (but increasingly prominent) recommendation system. Until very recently, “blind playthrough” was one of these official Twitch tags. Now, however, it’s not.

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“Blind playthrough” was meant to be applied to first-time runs through games, frequently with the implication that streamers didn’t want chat spoiling key story elements or trying to backseat game. Streamers and other content creators use the term pretty frequently. Recently, however, Twitch removed the “blind playthrough” tag following concerns about ableist language. Today, Twitch community and creator marketing director Erin “Aureylian” Wayne acknowledged the change on Twitter.

“Happy to see Twitch has listened to everyone who shared feedback and removed the ‘Blind Playthrough’ tag to encourage more inclusive language for our community,” she wrote. “You can still use ‘First Playthrough’ or opt to use it in combination with ‘No Spoilers’ for the same sentiment.”

Previously, the “blind playthrough” tag received criticism over disability connotations. In June, for example, AbleGamers COO and Twitch partner Steven Spohn discussed the tag in a longer thread about disability terms and negative language.

“‘Blind playthrough’ or ‘going in blind’ can easily be replaced by saying ‘No spoilers playthrough’ or ‘Undiscovered’ or ‘first’ (if it is your first). A blind playthrough would be to turn your monitor off, and that’s not what most mean,” said Spohn. “Just as we used to say ‘gay’ when something was bad, using disability terms as an alternate word for a negative situation or feeling is common in today’s language. But just as we stopped saying gay to mean bad, we can stop saying these words too. Think about the words you choose.”

The change is, as Spohn pointed out, kind of a no-brainer; “first playthrough” not only avoids adding another drop to an ocean of ableist language, but it also makes more sense. If I was a Twitch outsider, I could assume that “blind playthrough” might refer to any number of things. “First playthrough” is exactly what it says on the box: Somebody’s first time playing through a game.

Some streamers, however, are hoping for something a little more substantial from Twitch in the future.

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“I still wish they had a disability tag so I can find more disabled gamers on Twitch to network with,” said streamer and artist DaniDawnstar, echoing a sentiment that is not uncommon across multiple marginalized communities on Twitch.

Spohn, whose organization regularly advises video game companies on these sorts of issues, thinks things are headed in an encouraging direction.

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“I’m happy to see Twitch following through on promises to address and resolve issues and concerns from the disability community,” Spohn said on Twitter today. “It’s just the beginning.”

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Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

DISCUSSION

PC culture at its worst... Should hunters change the name of their hideouts too? Stop being so sensitive about everything. There are 15 definitions of the word “blind” here.  Quit pretending like yours is the only and/or most important one.