Mixer faces backlash over clothing guidelines, as Ninja tops 650,000 followers

Mixer's luck has been a mixed bag lately, with Ninja's exclusivity deal balancing out layoffs and upset over controversial clothing guidelines.

Ninja continues to make big waves on Mixer after announcing last week he would stream on the Microsoft-owned platform exclusively.

The streamer, whose real name is Tyler Blevins and is best known for his Fortnite content (including a wildly popular engagement with singer Drake), has racked up nearly than 660,000 followers as of publication. The large push out of the gate was aided by a limited offer giving Mixer members a free subscription to Ninja’s channel. These early stats are a powerful start, though he left Twitch with more than 14 million followers according to SocialBlade.

Ninja’s move from Twitch to Mixer has predictably caused a swarm of new viewers. According to GamesIndustry, the Mixer iOS app topped the charts for a time. It’s since dropped back down to 46th place on the free apps list.

It should have been a weekend of celebration for Mixer, as Ninja kicked off his career on the platform with a stream from Lollapalooza. However, the platform drew scrutiny from the community due to its policies around attire.

While the policies are clear in their application to both male- and female-presenting bodies. The language used often references female anatomy.

Rating-Specific Clothing Guidelines

Family Friendly Stream

  • Clothing must cover entire visible body from a few inches above the bust-line
  • It cannot be strapless and should show little to no cleavage

Teen Stream

  • Clothing can reveal more than a hint of cleavage but still covers the entire visible body
  • Cannot be strapless 

18+ Stream

  • The chest must be covered from the bust-line to the end of the rib cage. No "under cleavage
  • Clothing that shows the midriff such as crop tops are allowed
  • Strapless tops only if the top can be clearly seen on camera. No one should have to “guess” if the streamer is wearing clothing
  • Situational appropriate clothing is allowed
  • Swimwear that is considered acceptable at a family beach is acceptable when at a beach, pool or participating in a sporting event
  • When at a gym sports bras are allowed to be worn as clothing as long as the breastbone is covered

Concerns center around the idea that skin showing is in opposition to being family friendly. Twitch partner Emily Bello addressed the matter on Twitter.

“Behold Mixers 'Rating Specific clothing guidelines',” she wrote. “Anyone else wildly uncomfortable at the idea of any visible skin not being family friendly?? Crop tops or visible shoulders are always 18+. Seems archaic and backwards.”

Bello also expressed concern that the policies open the door to harassment based on a streamer’s attire. 

Josh Stein, Mixer’s social media and verified channel lead, responded stating that the platform would investigate and evaluate the policy to determine if changes are required. Mixer co-founder Matt Salsamendi also suggested that there is room for change, pointing out that the rules were written earlier in the platform’s history, when it was still known as Beam.

“I’ve been holding off on saying this because I don’t want the person who wrote these rules specifically to feel the brunt of this but she was an amazing woman and one of the first members of our team,” he wrote on Twitter. “Either way, we are open to changing. Goal is inclusivity for all.”

Mixer’s official statement, emailed in response to a GameDaily inquiry, echoes Salsamendi’s sentiment. 

“Mixer is committed to maintaining a positive, inclusive and diverse community alongside transparent Rules for User Conduct,” a company representative told us. “We are always listening to feedback to ensure we uphold a friendly and welcoming environment for our community.”

Other streamers have voiced their support for the Mixer platform. Britni, a Mixer partner, has been on the platform since 2016.

“There are some nasty feeds going around claiming Mixer ‘decided women aren't particularly welcome" bc of clothing guidelines,’” she wrote on Twitter. “In my 3 years I have never felt unwelcomed. My integrity and intentions on this platform are protected & I wouldn't stream anywhere else.”

Another streamer, Princess Pwn, shares Britni's thoughts in a Twitter conversation with GameDaily. 

"I personally enjoy having a clear dress code," Princess Pwn said. "Mixer is incredibly transparent with partners and non-partners about what's expected of them on Mixer's platform. Coming from somebody who has had several issues with sexist dress codes back in school, I always rebelled or spoke out against guidelines that I felt were sexist. Mixer has never given me a reason to think they are sexist or overly strict toward women, or toward men for that matter. I have a fairly extensive wardrobe and I'm able to pretty much wear anything in my closet without breaking TOS. I feel like the guidelines are fairly standard, as it should be with any platform that has different ratings for streams—Family Friendly, Teen Friendly, and 18+.

"I think the nicest thing is that Mixer is super accepting of people with all body types and they don't target women for being more curvy, they apply the same rules to everyone, instead of treating women differently for having a bigger chest. Mixer has clear guidelines for streams with certain ratings, and I've personally never heard anyone on Mixer complain about the dress code. I've always been happy with it. I can dress up if I want to and show more skin or I can just wear a regular tee, either way I'm complying with the dress code and I'm comfortable."

Twitch’s clothing guidelines seem far less restrictive, but also provide far fewer specifics. The company doesn’t break things down by rating, instead offering guidance rather than hard and fast rules.

“Streaming is a public activity, therefore we recommend creators wear attire that is appropriate public attire for a given context, intent, or activity,” the platform says. “For game streams, most at home streams, and profile/channel imagery, we recommend attire appropriate for public settings, such as what you would wear on a public street, or to a mall or restaurant. For example, for a fitness stream, or an IRL stream from a location such as a public beach, attire appropriate to those public contexts is recommended, such as workout clothes or a swimsuit, respectively. As noted in the section above, attire is just one factor of many that we consider when evaluating reports for potential sexual conduct.

“Attire intended to be sexually suggestive and nudity are prohibited. Attire (or lack of attire) intended to be sexually suggestive includes undergarments, intimate apparel, or exposing/focusing on male or female genitals, buttocks, or nipples.”

Twitch has actively pushed back on codifying rigid rules around attire. The company’s “Nudity, Pornography, and other Sexual Content” page (on which the clothing guidelines reside), includes a short FAQ that includes a direct response to the question of firm boundaries.

“As Twitch continues to expand the variety of content we feature, so comes the need for updating the range of attire that is acceptable,” the document says. “For example, something that is acceptable for a broadcast at the beach or the gym may not be acceptable for a cooking or gameplay broadcast. In an effort to help creators abide by our Community Guidelines in the same way they would expectations of behavior in the real world, we’ve updated our policies to reflect that we will consider not just the attire itself, but also the contextual setting in which it is worn and the intent of the person wearing it, when moderating content. Please remember that sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as nudity exposing or focusing on genitals, buttocks, or nipples, and attire intended to be sexually suggestive are prohibited.”

This arguably leaves room for guessing and has some streamers unsure what to think about Mixer’s policy. As of now, the choice is imperfect: fuzzy rules or guidelines that seem (at least to some) to be puritanical with regard to the female form?

“I'm so torn on this mixer/twitch clothing guidelines shit,” writes Twitch partner UnrulyBabs. “On one hand I want to say ‘don’t tell me what to wear’ and on the other I'm like ‘well at least there's a clear guideline.’"

While streaming audiences have grown in large numbers over recent years, the medium and its platforms are still figuring out how best to serve diverse creators and viewers. This is the latest growing pain of a format that is still in the formative phases of best practices, ethics, and inclusion.

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Michael Futter is the author of The GameDev Business Handbook, a guide for creating and sustaining an independent video game studio, and The GameDev Budgeting Handbook. He is also the former news editor of Game Informer and has written about business and legal issues and video game industry trends for eight years.

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