‘First playthrough’ or ‘no spoilers’ have been suggested as non-problematic Twitch tags.
It’s a decision that naturally divides opinion, but as a response to feedback sparked by a Twitter thread written by Able Gamers’ Steven Spohn, Twitch have removed the ‘blind playthrough’ tag. The term referred to streams wherein players would play a game for the first time without being familiar with mechanics or story. These are sought out primarily to watch a streamer’s natural first reactions.
In its place, as Twitch’s director of community and creator marketing Erin Wayne suggests, you can use the tags ‘first playthrough’ or ‘no spoilers.
Both Wayne and Spohn expressed they were happy with the change. Spohn also linked to the Twitter thread within which the initial discussion began.
As Spohn explains in the thread, “Ableist language is inserting a disability in place of a negative word.”
“Just as we used to say “gay” when something was bad, using disability terms as an alternate word for a negative situation or feeling is common in today’s language.
But just as we stopped saying gay to mean bad, we can stop saying these words too
Think about the words you choose.”
Even if you’re sympathetic to the cause, you might well consider the change too vulnerable to backlash and unhelpful. Indeed, a corporation changing language standards is a very surface-level change that they often use to mask yet more problematic activity.
Steve Saylor editor of the Can I Play That? video game accessibility website and owner of the YouTube channel Blind Gamer, however, fights this perspective, saying it isn’t a “super sensitive” change, but in fact a natural change in language. A superior term can be found, he argues.
Changing the term "blind playthrough" is not SJW's being super sensitive. I've said this before, "first playthrough" is a better description anyway. I personally am not offended by it, but I do think it's a term that can go away. Language changes over time, so let it.
— Steve Saylor (@stevesaylor) December 5, 2020
It’s certainly positive that this was in fact a change made from feedback/grassroots discussion. It also makes other shifts in accessibility and disability recognition more visible, as in consoles, individual games, Geoff Keighley’s upcoming Game Awards with its new audio descriptive mode, and indeed other corrections of ableist language with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It does make me thoughtful about the changes in language, rights, and attitudes we’ll see in ten years. “Progress is unstoppable. It is a drumbeat to which we must all march” after all.