Rocket League steps up punishment for hate speech

The Psyonix team indicated that hateful players who harass others can expect to be hit by the banhammer.

Image via Psyonix

Rocket League has escalated its rate of punishment for hate speech, Psyonix announced in a blog today. The company detailed some of the steps it’s taken toward combating racism and discrimination in its game.

“Over the past week, we performed an audit of our ban system to highlight areas where we can do better,” Psyonix said. “We’ve updated the system to more effectively identify and eliminate racist, abusive, and hateful language from in-game text chat. While permanent game bans have always been part of the system, we’ve escalated the rate of punishment for violations, and have further efforts underway.”

Hate speech and harassment have been big issues in the gaming scene as a whole. Games like Rocket League and Overwatch, for example, suffer from an epidemic of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination that are often weaponized through in-game voice and text chats. Despite numerous publicized examples of the bigotry in the chat, many developers have been slow to implement new moderation systems that actually work.

These issues also spill over into the esports and gaming community. In April, for example, Atlanta Reign Overwatch streamer Francine “Fran” Vo was harassed for being “carried” by her team in the Flash Ops tournament, despite the fact she created that team. Most recently, a Riot employee was put on leave after tweeting racist rumors about George Floyd. Racism, sexism, and other abuse should never be normalized in esports and should always be condemned.

“The past few weeks have led to many conversations inside Psyonix and Epic and have highlighted the extraordinary challenges still faced by people of color and, in particular, the Black community in America and around the world,” Psyonix said. “We’re committed to fighting racism and discrimination in our games and beyond. We want everyone in the Rocket League community to feel safe and welcome, whether they’re playing with friends or with others online.”

This move to increase the enforcement of punishments for racist behavior is an essential step for Epic and Psyonix. Games should be a safe place for people to spend their time and it shouldn’t be a normal experience to receive racist or gendered harassment while playing a game. More companies might follow suit and step up its punishment against the many bigoted, hateful players who dominate too many in-game experiences.