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The world’s top game streamer Ninja has argued that it’s ‘not his job’ to educate young people who use racist and sexist language in his chat.
Ninja – whose real name is Tyler Blevins – is Twitch’s most popular streamer with nearly 17 million followers. He is best known for playing Fortnite and as such has attracted a large following of young fans.
In a new, broad-ranging interview with the New York Times, Blevins was asked about the behaviour of the young people in his Twitch chat, and specifically if he felt he could mitigate bad behaviour. The streamer argued that it was down to parents, and not him, to educate the children who post racist and sexist comments during his streams.
“Your information and data are precious and should remain private, but it sucks that there are kids who can say racist things and be incredibly aggressive and threatening to women online and have zero repercussions,” he said.
“It would be awesome if when someone said something threatening, you could be like, ‘Let me look up this dude’s gamer tag on this website’ — if the law could do this, not a normal person — and then boom: ‘It’s Jimmy. He said this. Let’s call his parents.’”
He added: “But it all comes down to parenting. You want to know who your kid is? Listen to him when he’s playing video games when he thinks you’re not. Here’s another thing: How does a white kid know he has white privilege if his parents never teach him or don’t talk about racism?
“If they’re gaming and their first interaction with racism is one of their friends saying the N-word and they have no idea what it is — what if it was on my stream? Is it my job to have this conversation with this kid?
“No, because the first thing that’s going on in my head is, This kid is doing this on purpose to troll me. If someone says a racial slur on someone else’s stream, it can potentially get that streamer banned. It’s awful, but that’s the first thing I think of.”
Later in the interview, Blevins was asked if he still stood by comments he made in a 2018 interview claiming that he would not stream with female players.
“It’s astonishing that someone could think it’s OK to say [abusive comments] to women. But with the level that I’m at — and that a lot of top streamers are at — it’s like how it is with actors,” he said.
“I don’t want to start drama, but Justin Timberlake — he’s married — was filming a movie, was at a bar, was holding hands with an actress. They were just working together, but all it takes is one moment, and now it’s horrible, even if it’s just accusations.
“Accusations are what made me say that about female gamers. I was like, I’m going to do anything in my power to make sure that no one can even start a rumor or make YouTube clickbait videos: ‘Ninja is playing with this person a lot lately. They’re flirting. Here’s a clip.’
“You know how to make that never happen? You don’t let it happen! That’s what was going through my head. I still stand by not having a lot of alone time with a woman, in general, if you are a married man.
“I mean, they could be your best friend, that’s totally cool. But if I randomly start playing with a woman no one knows, people are going to start talking. So if I am going to play with female gamers, I do it with a big group so it’s not that one-on-one interaction.”
Asked if he believed in the possibility of a platonic friendship with a person of the opposite sex, Blevins replied: “Of course a guy and a girl can be friends without getting intimate. But it’s like, temptation, man. Actually, I don’t like that word, because I have control of myself and 100 percent respect for my relationship, but — I don’t know how to word it.
“I know people are going to potentially take this now like, ‘Oh, he can’t trust himself, blah blah blah.’ Dude, no. But when you’re not ‘Joe’ anymore, who can have a drink with his co-worker and no one gives a [expletive] — I don’t have that luxury.”