A Group Stream Selection Update
Dear Patrons,

Our first Group Stream Selection Committee vote has raised questions over how the process will work moving forward, and legitimate concerns over how we make decisions about what we deem appropriate to play together while streaming. I was unaware of how frustrating this would be to some of you, and want to personally apologize for not communicating clearly why the decision was made to not play one of the most suggested games last week. That might feel unfair, not only to people that joined the reward tier in October, but to everyone that has supported our Tuesday Night Group Streams since EZA began. Let me clarify where we’re coming from.

We do not intend for our decision to not stream Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash to act as a negative commentary on anyone who loves this game. If you’re passionate about it, and you want to share that with our community, we don’t want to discourage you. We’re here to celebrate the games we love, and just because we don’t incorporate something into content we produce, it doesn’t mean we’re sending a message that people should reconsider their feelings or interests. Part of promoting “respect” is realizing that people play games for various reasons, and we never want to assume our opinions are automatically shared by our community at large. Some people have shared that it felt like getting their hand slapped, and that’s a failure on our part.

This decision was made specifically regarding our Tuesday Night Group Stream, and I think that’s an important distinction. Picking the right game for Tuesdays can be tricky. Single vs multiplayer is an issue that comes up a lot. We try to be aware of games that one or more allies are much better at than others in the group, and prepare for the lopsidedness, because it’s boring. We aim for things we can all focus on collectively,like Jackbox or Monopoly or Overcooked, regardless of how many people actually have a controller in their hand.

There are several games, much less controversial than SKPBS, that ended up working terribly in a group environment. Most recently “That’s You!” unexpectedly killed the mood a couple of times by forcing us to be negative to each other, and not in a playful way. “Which one of you was mostly likely to get bullied in high school?” is not a great conversation starter when streaming live reactions from 9 close friends in a garage. There are settings to adjust this, and the game is still a blast, but we were caught off guard.

When we’re streaming, we’re not only showcasing the games, and ourselves, but that feeling of hanging out with friends and enjoying fun stuff. We’re not playing characters. Our reactions to everything are sincere. When a stream falls apart, you can feel it. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the concerns, no matter the size, of each ally. Some of the best internal debates we’ve had occurred right after a Group Stream ended, because something came up live that we’d never addressed before, and it needed to be resolved then and there. Based on our shared experience of doing this together for a year and a half, it was obvious that the mood in the room playing SKPBS would have been sour. Ben said it best on NeoGAF:

While I personally don't have a problem with overt sexuality ("anime boobs"), that isn't what turned me off. I found that every scene of dialogue was weirdly off-putting. Within minutes, one character calls another a "dumb bitch" and tells her to shut up. A female host is worried about a camera zooming in and seeing her wrinkles. Another character undergoes a test to prove her pervertedness. It was relentless. I said "hey we probably shouldn't stream this" and it was collectively agreed upon. It was a discussion, not an order.

It would have been uncomfortable, which is not always bad. I totally get wanting to see us squirm a little bit, or play something we flat out do not like. The good kind of public discomfort comes from things like arguing our way through The Hall of Greats, playing something we’re all terrible at, or subjecting one of us to VR while the others point and laugh. As I stated during the stream, it’s a fine line. It’s a line we haven’t crossed many times at Easy Allies, but it’s something we need to talk about and, despite our goofs in handling the messaging, I’m glad we’re talking about it now. A lot of these decisions happened behind the scenes previously, when something would be considered for Tuesday night and not chosen. Everyone at the $2 level is a part of that conversation now, and it might take a few weeks to clean up that process.

Our streams are supported by the conversations generated by the games we’re playing. The goal is to not go off the rails or fake interest in the subject matter at hand. Our pass on SKPBS is us accepting that it would make for a lousy Easy Allies Tuesday Night Group Stream. We always want to put our best foot forward, especially when we’re all together, so we have to go with our gut whenever something feels off. In this instance it has to do not only with sexuality, specifically directed at minors, but also language that is not inclusive and could alienate many viewers.  There are a wide range of possible road blocks we’ll have to navigate moving forward. We’ll do our best to explain the reasoning, and we hope that collectively they’ll paint a clearer picture of what we deem appropriate when it’s Group Stream time.

I’m confident with the decision we made, but not happy with how we handled it. There will inevitably be games that we’re not comfortable playing, for many possible reasons. The Group Stream Selection Committee was created to place a priority on what our community wants to see the most. Hopefully you trust us enough to decide what among that tier would make a good Group Stream. Please be respectful to others when addressing this. Listen to multiple perspectives before responding, and avoid singling out people just for things they like. Let’s keep the conversation productive. Thanks to everyone that voted this week. Thanks to everyone that expressed their concerns about this in our forums, on social media, and here on Patreon. I encourage you to keep doing so.

L&R,

Brandon
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