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PlayerUnknown: Violent Words Have Consequences, Even While Role-Playing

The banning of one of the game's most popular streamers prompts a surprisingly personal story from the designer of gaming's current phenomenon.
Image courtesy of DrDisRespect

There are few PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds streamers more entertaining to watch than Dr DisRespect. Equipped with flashy sunglasses and an equally flashy mustache, Dr DisRespect takes no shit in his pursuit of chicken dinner. It's all part of a very funny bit, but Dr DisRespect appeared to cross a line last night, when he purposely killed one of his teammates during a four-player match, after Dr DisRespect realized everyone wouldn't be able to ride the motorbike they'd found.


(Thanks to Esports Pro for collecting these clips.)

Rather than following his teammate's instructions and allowing two of them to go find another mode of transportation—the vehicle only fit three—Dr DisRespect took matters into his own hands and killed someone in his squad. Friendly fire can happen in the midst of a firefight—just look at what I did to Austin during our stream yesterday morning—but it's supposed to be an accident. It's against the game rules to purposely kill another teammate.

The charade fits Dr DisRespect's character, and look: it made me laugh. But not long after he pulled the trigger, Dr DisRespect found he'd been banned.

Though the game tracks a player killed by friendly fire, the game relies on the community to submit reports on what it calls "team killers," and encourages players to contact them "if you were intentionally, and maliciously, killed, or knocked down by a member of your team." At the moment, a report requires video proof for the developers to take action. This was on video, and while Dr DisRespect may have played it for laughs, and his popularity makes him one of the leading faces of the Battlegrounds community, the developers still banned him.

"If you break the rules in @PUBATTLEGROUNDS…" said Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene on Twitter earlier today. "no matter who you are… you're gonna have a bad time!"

The developers told me this morning the ban is only temporary, however.


The two went back-and-forth on Twitter with some light but in-character banter from Dr DisRespect, with Greene ending one exchange with a friendly "<3."

Then, things escalated, in the eyes of the developer of Battlegrounds.

Greene didn't find Dr DisRespect's joke particularly funny, this time quoting the tweet instead of responding directly to it, so more people would see it.

"Suggesting violence is the best way to solve a disagreement is just wrong, even if you are playing a character," he said.

The Twitter response to Greene's comment was predictable, with some wondering why he wasn't able to "take a joke," saying it "shows [a] lack of understanding towards the community that makes your game a success."

Given how responsive Greene has been with the Battlegrounds community—it's one of the game's defining characteristics—it wasn't surprising when, a few hours later, Greene wrote a thorough response, revealing a personal experience with violence. Rather than quote from it, I'd recommend reading the whole thing.

So today I created a little bit of a shitstorm on Twitter.

Before I begin, I have to say that I do enjoy the character Guy has created with DrDisrespect. Hell, I am even part of the Slick Daddy Club! I understand that he likes to talk shit, and I was right there with him until that one tweet.

I was told that I should have taken The Docs threat of violence as a joke. So now I will try explaining why I took this tweet seriously and tweeted out the response I did.

Story time!

When I was in college, many years ago, I had a disagreement with my flat mate. Instead of talking it out like men, he decided to get aggressive and while I was backing away from him, he kicked me in the chest and put my head through a plate glass door. Thankfully, I don't suffer from any ill effects due to this experience.

The point of that story is to attempt to explain why I think even the threat of violence is not something that should be joked about. Given my experience in college, and the fact that The Doc's threat, even as a joke, synced up closely to a bad experience I endured, it could have brought up bad memories, triggered a panic attack or had other consequences The Doc might not have intended when composing the tweet.

All I ask from anyone that reads this is to consider that your words, however flippant they may be, could have unintended effects on those reading them.

Did the designer behind the biggest phenomenon in games right now just use his enormous platform to tell a thoughtful story about how threats of violence, even those meant to be humorous, might be taken differently by people who've been party to violence? How words and actions have unintended consequences? That trauma can trigger in unexpected ways, and we should be careful? Holy shit.

Good on you, Greene. We could use more developers with that much humility.

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