Goats & Glory, the U.S. Navy Esports team, played Among Us on Twitch this Saturday night and hosted other players who used the names “Japan 1945,” “Nagasaki,” and “Gamer Word.” Nagasaki and Japan 1945 are references to the U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan at the end of World War II. “Gamer Word” is a reference to the n-word. During the one hour and 17minute long stream, Pepe the Frog Twitch chat emojis covered portions of the screen.
A video of the stream is still up and has been viewed more than 1,000 times, hundreds of more views than a typical U.S. Navy Twitch stream. Personnel Specialist Brandon Chandler was running the stream.
“We’re going to play Among Us with some of my close friends,” Chandler said.
Among Us is a multiplayer game where players take on rolls on a space station. Most of the crew is trying to fix the station but one person is an imposter tasked with killing as many people as possible. Between rounds, the players vote to see who they think is the imposter.
After the first round, the user in the game named Gamer Word hadn’t voted and everyone was waiting on them. “Just waiting on you, uh, individual,” Chandler said, hiding his face from the camera. He laughs.
“Don’t say it,” one of the other players said in a taunting voice while Chandler laughs.
“Don’t say his name, don’t say it,” a second player said.
These weren’t random people playing with Chandler, but people he described as his “close friends.” To join a game of Among Us, players have to input a code that’s on the host’s screen. Chandler gave the code to his friends and hid the image of the code on the public Twitch stream by using a Pepe the Frog emoji to block it out. The legacy of Pepe the Frog is complicated, and he’s a popular character on Twitch. He’s also listed as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
An hour into the stream, Chandler paused and switched out the map. When the stream returned, the player’s names had been changed. Gone was “Gamer Word” and the references to Nagasaki and Japan 1945.
“Almost 200 people in here now,” a member of the U.S. Navy esports team who was off camera said after the stream restarted. Viewers flooded into the stream after news of the player names hit Twitter.
“Nice,” Chandler said. “Poggers.”
Chandler played Among Us for a few more minutes before switching to League of Legends. But he abandoned a match during champion selection and got locked out of starting another round for five minutes. “It looks like we’re going to have to end the stream a little early,” Thessa L Reed, another member of Goats & Glory, said, citing technical difficulties and a personal issue.
"After the events surrounding the stream of Among Us on Saturday night, where three non-Navy affiliated users decided to use extremely inappropriate in-game usernames, we have paused streaming and are re-evaluating how we vet users who are allowed to play with us on stream in an effort to ensure that this does not happen again,” Command Lara Bollinger of the U.S. Navy Public Affairs Office told Motherboard in an email. “We do not condone those usernames and the Navy Goats and Glory team member’s immediate response that night was neither quick nor correct. His reaction to the situation was unbecoming of a member of our team and he will no longer be streaming with us."
Twitch did not return our request for comment.
The U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and National Guard all maintain a presence on Twitch and other online gaming spaces now. It’s not going well. The Pentagon’s rush into gaming is both a recruitment drive and a branding opportunity. It’s gotten into trouble for possibly violating the first amendment by banning viewers, and drawn the legislative ire of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who attempted to pass legislation that would prevent the Pentagon from using its resources to stream on Twitch.
Update: This story has been updated with comment from the U.S. Navy.