Popular battle arena game Smite has suspended 5,000 player accounts due to racism. This action comes directly after the game’s posts in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Its official Twitter account encouraged their fans to speak out against racism and fight for social justice.
The game, with over 30 million active players, is one of the most popular free-to-play MOBAs on Steam. Within those 30 million, there are bound to be behavioral issues needing to be addressed. Unfortunately, some players harass and cause trouble for their teammates, and Smite developers are rushing to address the issue. In addition to account suspensions, Smite developer Hi-Rez Studios is implementing new technology that will aid in punishing other racist actions in the future.
Today we've completed a full chat log review, and have suspended over 5,000 accounts for racism.
We've also implemented new tech for our team to find and punish racist actions more easily. We still have work to do and are committed to ensuring SMITE is a hate-free environment.
— SMITE (@SMITEGame) June 5, 2020
This is great news for players who have issues with harassment and bullying in-game. Some are concerned with issues of censorship of free speech that may stem from this addition, but still, there must be consequences for players who harass others using racist, offensive language, regardless of free speech.
A decision following the CEO’s statement
On June 2, Stewart Chisam, CEO of Hi-Rez Studios, tweeted his support for the Southern Center for Human Rights. Following the post, fans suggested he should ban accounts that use racial slurs. Others asked for a public statement from the company addressing the recent social issues. This may have influenced the release of Smite‘s message that came shortly after.
In the past 24 hours, the company has shared quotes by community members that have spoken up against systemic racism. Some have mentioned their personal experience with racism, and others suggested ways to help out.
— SMITE (@SMITEGame) June 4, 2020
The gaming community isn’t new to homophobic, xenophobic, and other problematic behavior. Steps have been taken by many gaming companies to implement a safe game environment for their players. Although suspensions and bans may seem like a step in the right direction, it doesn’t prevent players from continuing their harassment within the gaming community.
Regardless of what dissatisfied players say, Smite and other game companies have spoken up to stand up for justice and racial equality. As these organizations speak up, they are encouraging their followers to help out in any way possible.