Twitch removes ‘blind playthrough’ tag after complaints of ableism
Twitch has removed the “blind playthrough” tag on gaming streams due to criticism that the tag was “ableist.” Twitch’s director of community and creator marketing Erin “Aureylian” Wayne tweeted the news over the weekend.
Streamers often use the term “blind playthrough” to designate their first time ever playing a game. The “blind” would refer to the fact that the streamer wouldn’t have prior knowledge of the game, including the story, mechanics, controls, etc. Wayne suggested that streamers call these playthroughs “first playthroughs” instead of using the term “blind.”
As expected, this news has had a mixed reaction. Many were demanding to know who provided this kind of feedback, as the announcement floored them.
That last tweet above adds some doubt as to the reasons why Twitch has done this. When asked why the term could be problematic, Wayne pointed to a series of tweets from AbleGamers COO Steve Spohn.
“Ableist language is inserting a disability in place of a negative word,” Spohn explained. “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.”
“‘Blind play through’ or ‘going in blind’ can easily be replaced by saying, ‘No spoilers play through’ or ‘Undiscovered’ or ‘first’ (if it is your first),” he continued. “A blind playthrough would be to turn your monitor off, and that’s not what most mean.”
Another visually impaired Twitter user offered yet another perspective on the matter. Michael O’Connor said that “The word doesn’t affect me. Actions are what harm people. Twitch’s action here are lip service. Trying to look good without having to do anything… like implementing actual accessibility tools for visual impaired people. By Twitch’s own logic, their own name is ableist.”
Of course, removing the tag doesn’t mean that Twitch streamers will remove the term “blind playthrough” from their own language or even the titles of their streams. Time will tell if Twitch decides to ban using “blind playthrough” for stream titles as well.
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