Twitch Bans Consensual Gay Video Game, But Exploitative Hetero Games Get a Pass

By on November 2, 2015

Watch a clip from Rinse and Repeat (NSFW).

Twitch, a popular streaming service, banned Rinse and Repeat, a homoerotic video game based around washing some guy’s back in public showers. Apparently, you wait around the showers for the exact time when some hunk in a pair of sunglasses will walk in and need “some love” on his back, then it’s your job to give him the perfect scrub down. If you scrub too hard, he’s not that fond of you and says, “What’s your damage?” But if you do it right, then you’ll get a, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.”

Rinse and Repeat is one of the many creations of Robert Yang, a video game designer who focuses heavily on gay males and the subjects of consent and connection. You would think that this wouldn’t be worth a ban from a streaming site — particularly since Twitch allows exploitative games like Dead or Alive (where women with balloon-like-breasts pose and flop around on beaches) and Metal Gear Solid’s Quiet (where women writhe around half naked on rooftops for no reason).

In a blog post on his site, Yang criticizes Twitch for the ban, suggesting that this is a perfect example of the discomfort around homoerotic nudity that’s still alive in the very hetero-centric video game world:

Here is Twitch’s rule about nudity in games:

Sexually explicit acts or content: “Nudity can’t be a core focus or feature of the game in question and modded nudity is disallowed in its entirety. Occurrences in game are okay, so long as you do not make them a primary focus of your stream and only spend as much time as needed in the area to progress the game’s story.”

This is a blanket ban on any game that is popular enough to get Twitch management’s attention, and heavily features nudity. It erases the context of the work and ignores how the nudity is presented, instead focusing on a nonsensical formal distinction where “nudity is OK if it’s only a fraction of the game.”

That means Twitch treats my games exactly the same as the disgusting RapeLay, a game that I won’t even bother describing here. This equivocation is offensive to me, when I focus heavily on ideas of consent, boundaries, bodies, and respect in my games.

But what really pisses me off is that my games actually earn their nudity, and cannot function as artistic works without it. Then here comes Twitch, which argues that some blue alien chick boobs in Mass Effect are OK to broadcast because they’re obviously there for some bullshit titillation? … (While we’re at it, let’s add a dash of systemic homophobia into the mix.)

What do you think about the ban on Rinse and Repeat? Was it just or unjust?