Twitch Streamers’ Hogwarts Legacy Ad Protests Are Fruitless Without The Biggest Stars
Hogwarts Legacy reviews have just come in, and surprising no one, most have little caveats to show that people are aware of Harry Potter creator JK Rowling’s transphobic bile, but they’re not going to actually do anything about it. Simply not covering the game would be the right move, but most are giving into the hype and rose-tinted glasses of their childhoods rather than addressing the transphobic elephant in the room. Fortunately, Twitch streamers are, and some have started a boycott on the site due to an aggressive Hogwarts Legacy marketing campaign.
Streamers can’t opt out of these ads, so. a trans streamer called Veronica ‘Nikatine’ Ripley first called for a boycott in protest of the ads forced upon her channel. She’s pledged to stop streaming until Twitch ends this campaign, and many other small streamers have since joined her cause. Some have opted to move their streams to other platforms for now, and others are agreeing to stop streaming entirely or turn off their ads. This is a big sacrifice as they’ll be forfeiting their income by doing so. However, one concern is that calling on other trans streamers to do the same is going to do nothing but silence them further and ruin their livelihoods. The boycott will only hurt Twitch provided some big names join in.
Unfortunately, as with the ADayOffTwitch campaign, we’ve already seen that those in the big leagues largely ignore these things, never wanting to be the first to take the plunge. It’s especially unlikely that the top streamers will join in with this considering Hasan ‘HasanAbi’ Piker, a streamer known for his political commentary, parroted the often misunderstood, “no ethical consumption under capitalism” line to say why boycotting the game is stupid. What that phrase actually means is that, if you look hard enough at any production chain, someone, somewhere, is being exploited because that’s intrinsically how capitalism works. It doesn’t mean all exploitation is equally as bad or everyone is just as oppressed as everyone else, so using it to justify playing a game that lends credibility to the most influential and insidious transphobe in the world isn’t the revelation Hasan thinks it is, and I expected better from him.
The bigger streamers with more sway on the platform can, and have, pulled together in the past. Last September, Pokimane and Mizkif publicly called on Twitch to ban gambling streams after ItsSliker admitted to scamming fans and colleagues out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his gambling addiction. It would be wonderful for them to take a stand on a more divisive issue, but again, it’s something streamers rarely want to do. It’s easy to offer platitudes and say “love is love”, but it’s harder to tell your fans that playing this game is actively harmful and yes, you should reckon with that fact if you’re going to buy it.
This is a big moment for Twitch streamers. They’ve shown in the past that, when the biggest stars stand together, they can force the platform to change. Unfortunately, it’s often down to the smaller, more marginalised creators to take risks first, and without those influential voices, this protest could be swept under the rug and left unheard. It’s bigger than Hogwarts Legacy, too. What if a streamer doesn’t want to advertise unhealthy energy drinks to their audience, or anything else for that matter? If gaming streamers like Ninja, TimTheTatMan, and Shroud step up and lend their support to this, it’ll be an important step in giving creators more say over what is shown to their audiences. It will give more power to everyone who streams on Twitch, but the big dogs have to be willing to get messy and political first.
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