Paulo Avelino, a well-renowned movie and TV personality in the Philippines, is known for his award-winning films and stellar performances as an actor. However, not many know that Avelino is also an avid gamer and enjoys popular online first-person shooters such as PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, Fortnite and Escape from Tarkov among others.
Last week, Avelino ventured into live streaming his play session on the popular streaming site, Twitch.tv. Given his extreme popularity in the Philippines, people went into a frenzy and immediately tuned in to his live stream of Escape from Tarkov. However, things quickly got out of hand as the comments in the stream started from innocent admiration of his good looks to downright sexual harassment.
The online platform of the Philippine Inquirer, a leading newspaper in the country, reported that majority of Avelino’s audience were women. Of course, given the anonymity that online profiles provide, these commenters can be anything. Now, several fans during the live stream took it too far and bombarded the actor with crude sexual remarks that were obviously offensive, dirty, and sexually inappropriate. You can check out some screenshots of the comments below, with their corresponding rough English translation since the comments were made in Tag-Lish (Tagalog-English).
Translation: "It’s one thing to be horny, it’s another thing when the streamer is hot."
Translation: "Landi (direct translation is to flirt) is real"
Translation: "You can shoot your c** on me daddy Pau, anytime you want."
Translating these sexual remarks already made me uncomfortable but imagine what Avelino felt like being objectified in that manner. The situation got so bad that an admin was forced to intervene saying, “Guys, favor. Please show some respect for our poging (handsome) streamer, can we do that? Just try to avoid saying inappropriate words or things in his channel. Thank you so much!” Currently, Avelino has 3,604 followers and has 49 videos on his Twitch channel. He did not make any comments regarding the sexual harassment, but any person, whether a man or a woman, whether famous or not, does not deserve to be treated that way.
This incident begs to question how Twitch views sexual harassment and what safety precautions they employ to protect streamers and their audience. Browsing through Twitch’s community guidelines, the streaming service explicitly states that “Harassment is any content or activity that attempts to intimidate, degrade, abuse, or bully others, or creates a hostile environment for others, and is prohibited. Harassment is prohibited.” The guideline continues by saying that Twitch considers numerous factors to determine whether a case of harassment is present. In the case of Avelino’s audience who made the sexually explicit remarks, Twitch does not tolerate any “Unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, and sexual bullying.”
Concerning what the streaming service does to protect its streamers and their audience, it is stated that violating the policy against harassment will lead to the perpetrator’s account to be suspended. Even though Twitch has guidelines in place to protect its patrons, we can’t help but wonder whether these are enough.
Sexual harassment in gaming has been a long-occurring problem in the industry. Women are objectified, degraded, and are met with sexist remarks whenever male players discovered their gender. An article written by the BBC documented some of the unfortunate cyberbullying female players go through when playing video games online. Now, Avelino’s experience revealed that some men experience sexual harassment online too, and in his case, in the hands of women. The question now is how do we put an end to this on-going problem that men and women face in the world of online gaming? In the end, cyberbullying and sexual harassment is never okay whether online or in the real world, regardless of the person's gender, sexual preference, race, social status, and beliefs. All we want to do is to play games, why can’t we just focus on that?