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Should this toxic behavior on ‘Sea of Thieves’ be banned?

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How toxic is too toxic?

As far as pirate games go, Sea of Thieves is in a league of its own. There isn’t another open-world pirate game that allows you to sail wherever you want, engage in combat with other players and set off on your own adventures.

As a multiplayer game which requires players to be online when they play, Sea of Thieves was bound to experience its fair share of player toxicity. The creators anticipated this and created a few shortcuts to assist players in dealing with trolls. They even created a pirate code.

When an anonymous user felt that popular Sea of Thieves streamer Summit1g violated those rules, they had to say something. In an anonymous YouTube video uploaded on Jan. 9, the concerned user shared clips of Summit1g cursing and shooting his way through a number of rival pirate crews.

“Rare, if you’re thinking about having Summit1g on the developer stream, please reconsider,” the video begins. “Don’t actively endorse someone who has a history, both active and distant, of extreme toxicity.”

In the video description, they also request Rare, the developer, “avoid this PR nightmare and continue to invite people to the stream who more closely align with the pirate code.”

In the skillfully edited video, a mic’d up Summit1g takes to the high seas with his crew. Lines like “fuck the pirate code,” “hey get fucked,” and “tell your captain to suck my fucking dick,” are all included in the video. These clips are broken by snippets of Sea of Thieves executive producer Joe Neate explaining the pirate code, and why it is important.

Neate asks players to “fight with honor, out on the seas. Just think about the people you are playing with, the people you are encountering, and the experience that they are having. Make sure that you use voice in the right way in Sea of Thieves.” When Summit1g’s comments are combined with this message from Neate, his conduct looks bad.

That being said, this is an online game. A level of toxicity must be accepted—and anticipated—in anything that happens online. This is not necessarily a good thing, but a reality of our world. It’s also a pirate game. That doesn’t excuse all bad behavior, but when it comes to hunting down other players and reaving, well, it’s kind of the point of the game.

These clips are also taken from only two days of Summitg1’s streaming. This can mean two things. Summit1g may be an excessively toxic player who uses foul language and hunts down beginners despite his obvious experience. If this is true, then the points made in the anonymous video are completely valid.

The other option, however, is that these clips do not accurately portray Summit1g as a player. In the comment section to the anonymous video, fans of Summit1g defended him.

“I find it funny how you don’t put the parts where Summit helps the new people on the game, helps them with quests, etc. I find it hella funny you only put the negative things, it was a good try tho,” Anes Prses18 wrote. Another commenter, Michael Retherford5, said, “I like how they left out what people were saying before he talked back to them, a lot of these were responses to people using racial slurs.”

Summit1g responded to the video with one of his own. In it, he defends his behavior and argues that everyone gets a little angry when playing games.

“Give me a fuckin’ break, bro,” he says. “Not all of us are sitting there being good fuckin’ sports about every little thing that happens in life.” Not all of his arguments are very good—but his central one deserves thought. We can all get passionate when we play competitive games. To condemn a streamer for letting his passion go a bit too far—no racism, sexism or direct attacks included—is to force excessive restraint on players.

Rare and Summit1g have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.