Radiator 2, a trilogy of "games about gay stuff," banned from Twitch broadcast

“Radiator is an ongoing series of triptychs of short experimental singleplayer games about gay stuff. Each Radiator consists of three episodes that share code, sounds, characters, formal design constraints, political context, and all that other good stuff,” developer Robert Yang explains on the Radiator website. Radiator 2, released last month, contains three previously released games: Hurt Me Plenty, Succulent, and Stick Shift. And it has been banned from broadcast on Twitch. 

Yang highlighted the banning in a recent post titled "Why I am one of the most banned game developers from Twitch, and 3 steps they can take to fix their broken policy."

The prohibition is noteworthy for a few reasons. For one, Radiator 2 is new but the games in it are definitely not: They've been updated for Steam with improved graphics and gamepad support, but Hurt Me Plenty was originally put out in December 2014 and Succulent and Stick Shift were both released in the first half of 2015. Yet until now, none of them had attracted Twitch's ire. They're also not particularly graphic. They're obviously suggestive—really suggestive—but unless I missed something (and I got the cheevos, so I think I'm on solid ground here) there's no nudity, no actual depictions of sex, and not even any dirty talk. 

But the real problem, from Yang's perspective, is that Twitch provided no justification for the ban, or even notification that it had happened, which forces him to guess about the cause of the prohibition—and what he has to do to avoid sanctions on future releases.

“What's too gay for them, what's too sexual for them? Why did they change their mind when I re-mastered my games and put them on Steam?” he wrote on his blog. “I have no idea, and that's the biggest problem: Twitch never says anything. No e-mail, no notification, no rationale, no reason, no pity tweet. Am I just supposed to keep refreshing the ban list page to see if they banned me, for every single game I make, forever? This is humiliating and dehumanizing treatment, and I wish Twitch would stop it.” 

Yang offered three “common sense reforms” that he sees as a starting point for more meaningful changes: Notifying developers when games are banned and providing them with specific reasons why; setting up a formal appeals process for banned games; and creating separate categories for “Restricted Games” and “Prohibited Games,” which would allow for “artistically-sexual games that don't function as pornography.” 

“If Twitch actually cares about games, it should invest time / people / resources into nurturing games as a mature creative culture, to protect whoever needs protection AS WELL AS protect creative diversity of expression at the same time,” Yang wrote. “These goals are not mutually exclusive, and if any system cannot do this, then that system is broken and should be fixed.” 

It's worth noting that while none of these three games likely saw a lot of action on Twitch, a Google search indicates that Succulent did at one point have its own directory, although the link is no longer valid. Twitch confirmed that Radiator 2 had been added to its list of prohibited games but otherwise “does not comment on terms of service violations"; Yang, meanwhile, still hasn't heard a word about what got it crossed off the list in the first place. “Nothing, not even any notification of my banning, and that's the problem—they SHOULD comment!” 

Radiator 2, by the way, is free on Steam, but you dig Yang's work and want to support it, you can pay what you want on Itch.io.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.