After years of inaction, Microsoft has finally severed ties with Xbox Mil Grau, a YouTube channel that has been spewing racism, sexism, and transphobia within the Brazilian Xbox fandom since the early 2010s. While the channel has also been removed from Twitch, some Brazilian players won't be satisfied until Xbox Mil Grau has been excised from the internet.
The conditions that created Xbox Mil Grau, an Xbox focused video game YouTube channel, are in some ways unique to Brazil and in other ways typical of the gaming community's lax approach to calling out racism. "Mil Grau" is a phrase that translates to roughly "a thousand degrees," and implies both hype and humor. The channel was created by Christopher Sena Schlafner and is staffed by Henrique "Xcapim360" Martins, who appears in their streams and video content. According to members of the Brazilian gaming community, the channel was able to hide behind this facade of humor and fanboyism while harassing women, minorities, and also journalists.
Sources concerned about Xbox Mil Grau told Motherboard that over the past few years, the channel rose to prominence by harnessing the toxicity fueled by console wars.
"They started as every gamergater did: harassing people under the 'ethics in game journalism' flag," a Brazilian journalist, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, told Motherboard over email. This person has worked in video game journalism since 2014, and said they watched Xbox Mil Grau rise to popularity through smears and attacks.
"They did that by exposing journalists and popular YouTubers that disliked or gave low review scores for Xbox games," the source said. "When journalists started making their accounts private, they just went for plain harassment instead. Needless to say, but the harassment was even worse when they attacked female journalists."
Bruna Penilhas, a video game journalist in Brazil, told Motherboard that in addition to the abuses she suffered from Mil Grau online, which was "hell for many days," they also took their harassment offline.
"At the [Brazilian Game Show], which is like the Brazilian E3, he and his followers came to our booth with posters accusing us of several false things," Penilhas said over Twitter direct messages. "When I recorded a video at the Xbox booth, they tried to sabotage and appear in the background. At the same event, he had the opportunity to take the stage of an Xbox Brazil presentation and talk to Phil Spencer. In 2018, Mixer took them to E3. It was always very frustrating for me and my colleagues, because nothing was done."
After a blatantly racist tweet on May 30th that Xbox Mil Grau's Henrique Martins posted about the protests against police brutality in the United States, Brazilian gamers had finally had enough. Dozens of Brazilian players contacted Motherboard to express their frustration that a channel so blatantly bigoted was so closely affiliated with Microsoft. A Brazilian games journalist who contacted Motherboard said that their support did not come from Microsoft Brazil, but the parent company, lending them a sense of legitimacy that allowed them to get away with their racism.
"In mid-2018, a few weeks before E3, the new head of Xbox in Brazil, Bruno Lobo Motta, visited some video game outlet newsrooms, including ours, to meet the press and inevitably we talked about Xbox Mil Grau," the source said. "Mr. Motta assured us that they warned the global Mixer office about Xbox Mil Grau's offensive behavior and we didn't need to worry about [the channel] at E3. Shortly after E3, they left Mixer and went to Twitch, but I'm not sure this is related to changes in their relationship with Mixer itself. However, at some level, Microsoft's global offices were aware of these guys since 2017, but still allowed him to use his brand."
But like so many racists hiding in plain sight in the past few weeks, XBox Mil Grau's racist empire came toppling down after a public outcry. On June 3rd, Microsoft publicly severed ties with XBox Mil Grau. On the same day, their Twitch channel was banned. By June 5th, YouTube removed videos inconsistent with their policies from XBox Mil Grau's channel. If you look at their channel, now rebranded as XMG, only two videos remain.
For Penilhas, a complete removal of XBox Mil Grau from social media is the only recourse for all the damage they've done.
"He is part of society and has always spread hate," Penilhas said. "He went unpunished for a long time and justice needs to be done."