‘News words’ and narratives in response to Twitch and PS4

It started a couple of hours ago when I noticed the word “inappropriate” in a Gamasutra news headline about Twitch and the ability to livestream from the PS4.

It was only upon reading the Kotaku article it and most other sites reference, though, that I noticed something very odd about the competing narratives between the two. In the first one I saw, Gamasutra, it was company focused. This technology was “a headache for companies” because “some users have been abusing the video capture functionality to broadcast explicit images” (emphasis mine). The people were at fault here.

In the Kotaku article, it was positioned as companies reacting to innocent or even confused users. With phrases like “Twitch.tv has felt compelled,” the company, Twitch, is pointed at as perhaps not acting in the best interest (emphasis mine).  Because “the PlayStation 4 allows livestreaming [from apps like] Playroom, a free title that requires the PlayStation Eye camera (for PS4), films a user’s living room, as its object [sic] is to create the illusion of playing the game in your home,” it would seem as if the users were only doing what the technology allowed them to do (emphasis mine). They weren’t acting maliciously, only using what was in front of them.

Next up was Ars Technica, using the same term Gamasutra had used: “inappropriate.” Right within the first paragraph, that word appears to try to summarize the actions of the users, stating that, “Not all users are using that feature appropriately” (emphasis mine). Yet, Ars takes a twist in the last paragraph of its article, putting forth that “thousands of new PS4 owners are being exposed” (emphasis mine). Some users were wrong, but it wasn’t their fault, clearly.

Then came Polygon and more words. This time, there are “owners who are misusing the new console’s ability to stream content on the site with its Playroom feature” (emphasis mine). It is a situation not uncommon, as Polygon reports, with “a number of users . . . [streaming] off-topic and occasionally lewd content” (emphasis mine). The narrative is one of causal disobedience. Polygon even ends with that tone exactly, noting that it has reached out to Twitch “in light of this misuse.” Shouldn’t the company change its policy in light of the user’s action?

Engadget has an article on this ongoing event too. In it, the problem becomes the “risqué content.” The “crackdown” action from Twitch is because “others have decided the console provides the perfect platform to broadcast sexual content and host non-gaming shows” (emphasis mine). The users are in the wrong, with sexual and non-gaming content paired together here; both are equally bad.

Eurogamer covers the situation as well, writing that “lewd streams were canned” with others “removed following indecent comments in chat” (emphasis mine). In this case, it was a few bad users spoiling things for everyone.

Slate, in reporting on one of the more awful incidents associated with Twitch and PS4 lately, seemingly places the blame on the “gamers,” writing “Playroom is supposed to be used for playing games, but gamers are an ingenious bunch, and some swiftly started using it for more exhibitionist purposes” (emphasis mine). They are going “off-script.” Those gamers, ruining everything. As Slate kindly tries to point out in summary,  “children tend to use game consoles like the PS4 more than they do other gaming services with streaming video, like PCs, which means if people are getting naked onscreen, kids might have a higher chance of seeing.” The users are to blame and the companies aren’t doing enough.