More scum and villainy than Mos Eisley.
Warning: This article contains quotes that some people may find offensive
Reality TV has never been my thing. I like my TV shows to have a storyline, a message to convey, a large dose of – dare I say it – intelligence. For me, sitting down to watch the contestants of Big Brother moaning, belching and attempting to fuck their way through another day has about as much appeal as the idea of eating toenails on toast for dinner.
So it was with great trepidation that I recently ventured into the world of Live From PlayStation. And what a seedy, sinister, and downright immature world it is.
Allowing PS4 owners to stream either a live video of whatever they’re playing or a live feed of themselves and anyone or anything else that’s in front of their television via the PlayStation Eye camera, Live From PlayStation is a hive of racism, sexism and exploitation.
“It’s alright man, I’m used to it” he says in reply, his heavy sigh one belonging to a man who experiences this on a regular basis.
I first load up a stream called Chat With Mike, in which a respectable looking man of colour sits on his bed playing The Playroom, a piece of in-built PS4 software that allows gamers to spawn dozens of cute little robots in their room and interact with them. Down the right hand side of the screen is a list of messages other people watching the channel are sending to Mike in real time. “Hey nigga nigga nigga” says one. “You want some fried chicken, coal boy?” goads another. “Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly what I want, good one”, Mike says out loud in reply, the boredom in his voice clearly evident. Comments like this carry on appearing for several minutes. Eventually I feel the need to say something. I wade in, telling the culprits to grow up and leave him alone before typing out a message saying “Mike, I’m sorry you have to put up with so many idiots on here.” “It’s alright man, I’m used to it” he says in reply, his heavy sigh one belonging to a man who experiences this on a regular basis. Saddened by what I’ve seen, I exit the feed and look for something else.
I spot something called “Jones Household Entertainment Extravaganza”. This is quite a title. I have high expectations from the Jones Household. I click on their video feed, wondering what sort of entertainment extravaganza awaits me. Fire juggling? Knife throwing? Grown men riding tiny bicycles? My excitement is short lived. Three people are sat around the living room – two Northern men and a young woman. One guy is drinking beer, the other seems to be trying to belch a hole in the ozone layer – his only contribution to the conversations going on in the room – and the girl seems embarrassed to even be there. One look at the comments reveals why:
“Tits! Tits! Show us the tits you little slut!”
“She has no ass or tits to show”
“The story of the frigid bitch who wouldn’t put out”
“Guys you need to start rubbing on that pussy NOW”
If this makes for uncomfortable reading, bear in mind that these were the politer comments I came across.
Disgusted and ashamed of my fellow man, I leave the feed behind. As I scroll through the other videos, my attention is drawn to one in particular that sets alarm bells ringing; “HOT GAMER GURL PLAYS BF4 XXX”. The mind boggles. Dreading the comments this will surely attract, I venture forth in trepidation. Most of the screen is taken up by the Battlefield 4 footage, with the ‘gamer gurl’ in question consigned to a small square in the top right of the screen. This seems to have enraged some of the more…let’s call them passionate…viewers. “WHERE ARE THE TITS?” screams one comment. “What the fuck this isn’t a kitchen” chimes another. “Babe why don’t you put the controller down and grind my dick” suggests another in what is surely the most moronic attempt at a chat up line of 2014.
Disgusted and ashamed of my fellow man, I leave the feed behind.
Sighing heavily, I return to the main menu. Why do women put up with it, I wonder? Surely none of them can like this sort of attention?
My eyes are instantly drawn to a video that has nearly 600 people viewing it; “SXC GAME GIRL x LIVE CAM”. I know where this is heading before I click on it, but I press on anyway. Sure enough, a girl in a tank top and shorts sits on her bed, doing nothing more than pouting and pushing her breasts together. The comments box has practically gone into a meltdown:
“HOT BITCH DAMN WHAT I’D DO TO THOSE TITS”
“I’d ride that hard, get over here and make me a sandwich slut”
I can almost see 600 erections poking her in the face.
By now I’m searching for interesting video feeds with the urgency of a parched man searching for water in the Sahara. Finally, I come across something that looks hopeful; “Ask A Game Developer”. I head in, feeling optimistic. An indie game dev chats animatedly to the camera, answering questions submitted by viewers, which range from enquiries about how plot lines are figured out to the dev’s opinions on the Oculus Rift VR headset. It’s a genuinely engaging discussion broken by the occasional demand for breasts, but the dev ploughs valiantly onward, treating the comments with the silent contempt they deserve.
But how long will such interesting content survive? How long will it be until the slew of immature comments drive it away, leaving us with nothing more than guys sitting in their boxers eating Doritos and girls in tank tops pushing their breasts into the camera?
No-one expects Live From PlayStation to be the new home of intellectual content, but rather than showcasing creativity and gaming talent as Sony undoubtedly hoped it would, the service only highlights the worst of gaming’s sexism, racism and bigotry. Either these people actually think they’re being witty or they genuinely are the assholes they appear to be. Neither one is a particularly welcome prospect.
Either way, for the first time in all my years of gaming, I sign out of my PlayStation console feeling ashamed of my fellow gamers.