The US Army’s Twitch exploits have received plenty of criticism over the last few weeks, and things could get even worse. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is looking to put an end to the channel by filing an amendment to the House Appropriations bill that would prevent the military from using funds to “maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, esports, or live-streaming platform.”
Last week saw Twitch step in to stop a fake competition run by the US Army that promised the chance to win a $200+ Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. The channel’s streams were regularly populated with automated chat prompts containing links for those wishing to take part, but clicking on them directed people to an army recruitment form with no mention of a competition, odds, number of winners, or draw dates. The controversy came soon after the channel was accused of violating viewers’ First Amendment rights by banning users who asked about the Army’s favorite war crimes.
Now, Vice reports that Ocasio-Cortez could bring an end to official military Twitch channels, esports teams, and their presence on other streaming platforms. The publication does note that AOC’s amendment might not make it through the process. First, the House Appropriations Committee on Rules must meet to decide which pending amendments go forward. The bill then has to go through multiple committees before being voted on by the entire House, then the Senate.
While the Army, Navy, and Air Force all have their own esports teams and Twitch channels, the Marines haven’t been as eager to join in. “This is due in part to the belief that the brand and issues associated with combat are too serious to be “gamified” in a responsible manner.”
It appears that the Army is already reeling from the recent controversies. Esports consultant and journalist Rod “Slasher” Breslau tweeted that “due to recent media coverage of fake giveaways and potentially unconstitutional bans, the US Army esports team has paused social activity, streaming on Twitch, and official activations with Twitch including participating in upcoming Twitch Rivals events.” He adds that the Army might not resume its esports/streaming activities until spring 2021.