The discussions this past week about how to improve the Magic community’s health have prompted me to think more about the interaction between content creators and consumers. There is certainly a link between the content creator, the content they produce, and the behaviors their viewers engage in as a result of that content, but how that interacts is unclear. With that in mind, I’ve thought more seriously about how individuals in different roles shape and are shaped by the community, and what our responsibilities as members of that community are.
Content Creators/Professional Players
The highest profile content creators and players carry a lot of weight in the community, and consequently the comments they make have a significant impact on other players’ behavior. As we’ve seen, this influence can be used for the better or worse, but here I’m going to focus on positive steps members of our community have taken. I was particularly impressed by Gaby Spartz’ presence on Twitter over the past week, as she made posts that simultaneously spoke out against harassment, but also encouraged the community to reach out with positive examples of people acting within the Magic community. This prompted a significant outpouring of positive comments, and I believe this helped bring together a lot of people and gave active direction to our anger and frustration. This is the kind of interaction that high profile members of the community can provide to encourage positive behaviors that benefit the community. Additionally, this made me think of the importance of communication going both ways; high profile individuals can’t see every act of harassment, and consequently communicating instances of it to them can be an important part of ensuring a healthy community.
Another individual who I thought did a great job of rebuilding the community was The Professor at Tolarian Community College. The video expressing his sadness and frustration was moving but also did not seem to attack the offending party, setting an impressive precedent. Additionally, he encouraged his supporters not to send threats to the offending party, which struck me as taking responsibility for his followers, and working to create different methods for speaking out against vitriolic people. I think it’s difficult to make a statement like this since many are rightly upset about harassment and want to take action against it, but I do believe this is a step in the right direction for the community.
Finally, professional players have been doing a good job of speaking out against harassment and lending support to the community as a whole. Many pros took steps to reach out to the community rejecting the behaviors we’ve been discussing, and I think this is a crucial part of improving the health of the Magic community. Without explicit rejections of harassment and similar behaviors, we will not be able to move forward.
As consumers, we also have a responsibility to support the health of the community. Our behavior can alienate content producers or encourage them, and while we don’t have to enjoy or watch everyone’s content, it’s important to treat them with respect and decency. There seems to be an almost paradoxical role we play as consumers, in which we attempt to develop social groups (often centered on our favorite streamer) while simultaneously enjoying personal anonymity. This, I believe, is part of what leads to the harassment seen in the community; individuals are motivated to act in a way that is consonant with the views of whoever they follow closely, and their actions have minimal consequences.
Content creators, on the other hand, take on considerable risk because their experience is virtually devoid of anonymity, and so every action taken on stream is open to interpretation and critique. This is a precarious position to be in, and for individuals who want to start producing content, it can be difficult to work up the courage to get started in the face of a potentially hostile audience. Part of changing the streaming environment must involve changing how we react to content, and that requires thinking about our comments not only in terms of how they reflect our views, but also how they affect the content creator. I think the majority of our community does a good job of keeping the chats on stream and on youtube positive, but it’s still something we should all think about.
What do you think, what other steps can we take to improve as a community? Comment below!