The United States Navy’s “Women of Warzone” Twitch stream of the famous Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale was bombarded with bomb emotes after the text chat was turned off. Video games have been used by various branches of the US military to recruit young soldiers-to-be for several years now. The world’s largest military recently turned to Twitch in order to appeal to America’s youth. Different branches of the military also have Esports teams and face off in tournaments similar to the annual football games played by the US Army and Navy teams.
The “Women of Warzone” event featured several matches of Call of Duty: Warzone with short interviews in between matches comparing the teamwork used in-game to how the Navy operates. Today’s stream was in preparation for a Call of Duty: Warzone competition. This tournament will have a prize pool of $10,000 and will be open to the public. The description of the event says that the all-women competition is dedicated to celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 and will include six teams comprised of a streamer, a celebrity, and a fan.
According to Kotaku, the “Women of Warzone” stream’s comment section was filled with criticisms of the role that the United States military has taken around the world before the chat was switched to only allow emotes. This rule was recorded by Twitter user jordan. This reaction to military Twitch streams follows a pattern of comments critical of the United States’ actions abroad. The comments sections of these streams usually attract remarks about injustices and war crimes that the military has allegedly committed. Last year, the Army was faced with similar comments, but there was enough backlash about the censorship of chat, including banned words and blocked users, that the Army decided to temporarily stop streaming altogether.
The Navy recruiting command is streaming a “Women of Warzone” event and tried to limit comments by setting the chat to “emote only” pic.twitter.com/2pdlifdqZi
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 1, 2021
The stream amassed around 500 viewers on Twitch, and despite the enforced silence, viewers eagerly flooded the chat with emotes of bombs and missiles. The hosts of the stream decided to start taking questions from Twitter after the Twitch stream’s chat changed to only allow emojis. The US Navy Twitter account hadn’t banned comments during the stream, so users on that platform were free to bring up the alleged atrocities carried out by the US military.
From the war in Vietnam to today’s never-ending struggle in the Middle East, the United States military has faced criticism about its actions in a myriad of different ways. Now that it’s using online gaming and Twitch streams of games like Call of Duty: Warzone as a recruitment tool, the military needs to find a way to handle this criticism in a way that doesn’t just silence viewers. The Navy trains its streamers on how to handle comments about war crimes in, but it might be necessary to take a page out of the Army’s playbook and stop using Twitch as a method of recruitment if its moderators cannot come up with better solutions than silencing the chat.