Adult Language and Content on Twitch Streaming
Much like a podcast, Twitch went online with no rules about adult language. There are rules about adult content, but language? Go ahead and spout George Carlin’s list (the amended one) of words he can’t say on television. It can be pretty liberating being able to swear without a care …
… but this is not the same as no repercussions. Since the beginning of the Twitch Unity Movement on May 12, 2017, there has been an effort to hold people accountable for salty language. Other problems can occur for you and your stream when your language and conversations stray out of PG-13 territory.
- Front Page Feature: There are many occasions where Twitch will reach out to new and engaging personalities on their network and say, “We would like to feature you on the front page.” This means that for a designated time, when people go to the homepage, you will be one of those select few featured. That sounds cool, but that time featured may be severely cut if you’re dropping the F-bomb like it’s going out of style. If you’re going to represent Twitch, then Twitch will want you to clean up your act. Something to consider.
- Charity Affiliations: As you have read, one of the more popular charities that is affiliated with Twitch is St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Think about that for a moment. You’re on your stream, an opponent gets an unexpected upper-hand on you, and you scream, “[CENSORED]! You mother-[CENSORED]! Bet you [CENSORED] like a little [CENSORED] while you’re [CENSORED] a [CENSORED] [CENSORED]!!! Oh hey, Chat, we’re still raising money for the kids of St. Jude’s, so dig deep and donate the link in Chat … unless you’re cheap [CENSORED]-ers.” Yeah, that sort of talk may not go over well with a children’s It may not go over well with many charities, and charity streams are a good way to introduce yourself to the larger Twitch Community.
- Sponsors: Sponsors are those vendors who look at your stream, look at your followers, and think, “There’s an opportunity here.” The double-edged sword of sponsorship is that you are accepting either a stream of revenue or some sort of financial investment in your stream. This means, depending on how deep on an investment your sponsor makes, the sponsor now has a say in how things work on your stream. Certain subject matter and favorite vocabulary may not be tolerated. Even before you start seeking out a sponsor, your demeanor on the stream may affect your chances in finding a backer.
Your mileage may vary; and while some streamers are able to bend the understood rules to a point where they don’t break but strain under the stress, categorizing your stream as “Mature Content” or “Open to General Audiences” can affect how marketable your stream is to outside parties.
What about these General Audiences? How does the Twitch Community on a whole view working blue, a distinction in the stand-up comedy industry for adult-only acts, when streaming? In the end, depending on your concern over the factors mentioned above, you are the host of the stream, and it’s for you to decide if you want to enjoy the dance between PG-13 and R or simply go all in and not worry about how you come across. If people don’t like the way you carry yourself, then maybe your stream isn’t for them.
Then there’s the option of self-moderation, working blue when and where it’s appropriate. SheSnaps, in her recent 2018 GuardianCon charity stream, cleaned up her own stream, avoiding mature content while she represented St. Jude’s. ZGphoto tries to clean up his language when he deems certain days as “Disney Days” for song requests. “It feels weird dropping F-bombs,” he says, “when you have Moana or Frozen playing in the background.” It all depends on how you want your stream to be represented and perceived.
How to set the Twitch Mature Content option
If you decide that you want to hold nothing back, you will need to take care of one particular detail on your account:
- Go to Twitch.tv and access Settings from your Account drop menu located in the top-right corner of the browser.
- In the Settings window, single-click the Channel and Videos option.
- Scroll down to the Content Settings and — provided you know you would prefer to work in the raw — switch the Mature Content option to the ON position.
Twitch’s Terms of Service dictate that, if your channel is broadcasting sexual activity, nudity, threats, or extreme violence (in-game activity included), and your Channel is not marked as “Mature” then Twitch can immediately and irrevocably terminate your account.
The parameters of “Adult Content”
When it comes to “adult content” (that step beyond “mature content” where it’s no longer about the language) and what falls into that category, where exactly are the limits? Does that mean content in the game, from the streamer, or both?
Twitch is more than aware this could be considered a gray area and they explain in “Nudity, Pornography, and Other Sexual Content” exactly what their policy is. Concerning the game itself, Twitch states:
Games featuring nudity, pornography, sex, or sexual violence as a core focus or feature, and gameplay modified to feature these elements are entirely prohibited. Occurrences of in-game nudity are permitted, so long as you do not make them a primary focus of your content and only spend as much time as needed in the area to make progress. Games rated Adults Only (AO) by the ESRB are not permitted in gameplay-oriented broadcasts or complete or unedited format on Twitch.
While some games may go for extreme violence (Bioshock, Tomb Raider, God of War) or sexual situations (Castle Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, The Order: 1886), other games focus less on adult content as a story telling device and more as the focus of the game. This is why Twitch maintains a list of games prohibited for streaming on their service. If you are concerned about whether or not your game would be allowed on Twitch, a visit to a “List of Prohibited Games” will answer that question. Also at this URL, you can access the online documentation if you feel there is a game that warrants a review.