Twitch’s PogChamp Experiment Is Getting Some Streamers Death Threats

Last week, Twitch announced plans to replace the old PogChamp emote with a brand new streamer every day. The issue came about after Twitch pulled the old amount due to Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez–the guy who’d been forever the face of PogChamp up until January 6–making some inciteful comments over the failed insurrection of America’s capital.

“We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on – its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself – and it has a big place in Twitch culture,” Twitch wrote at the time. “We will work with the community to design a new emote for the most hype moments on Twitch.”

The idea to replace Gootecks came from Sean “Day9” Plott who suggested a database of random people that Twitch could draw from whenever someone typed the PogChamp emote. Twitch took that idea and tweaked it by instead giving its platform a brand new PogChamp emote every day using one of its many streamers.

First up was Kenny “UnRoolie” McWild, who even offered himself as Twitch’s first non-Gootecks PogChamp with the perfect photograph. After that, it’s been a new streamer every day.

So how’s it been going? Well, that depends if you’re a minority or not.

Polygon reached out to Twitch’s new PogChamps and found that a few of them received harassment after becoming the face of a widely-used emote. UnRoolie reported “minor trolling” after his day as PogChamp, but Omega “Critical Bard” Jones said that he’d received more pervasive harassment, up to and including death threats.

“I did prep my Twitch and Discord moderators about what was probably going to happen,” Critical Bard told Polygon, “considering I’m a black man who is about to be the face of a global emote Twitch has loved for so long.”

DearDeere, another recent PogChamp, also received transphobic comments after becoming the face of the emote.

Twitch’s response has been to note on Twitter that “hateful conduct and harassment” goes against their community guidelines and they will “take action against those who violate” those guidelines. Even still, some streamers are saying that Twitch hasn’t done enough to protect PogChamps from the darker side of its platform.

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