After the face behind PogChamp used social media to invite continued “civil unrest” from his followers, the popular Twitch emote has been removed from the livestreaming service. Twitch has promised to work with the community to come up with an emote that can capture hype moments on the platform, and plenty of entertainers are providing suggestions — if not volunteering their own faces.
One Twitch streamer, Sean Plott, wants to see a variety of faces when users type ‘PogChamp.’ But there’s also worry that tying an emote to any real-world person (or people) can lead to similar issues down the line, as there’s no telling when or if someone might pull a Milkshake Duck.
Yo @Twitch suggestion for PogChamp: create a database of streamer and/or general faces. Whenever someone types PogChamp, display one of those faces at random. Would give a really nice crowd feel to a chat spamming PogChamp and allow the meaning to be tied to all of us instead.
— Sean Plott (@day9tv) January 7, 2021
But highlighting a specific personality could also be a great opportunity to encourage inclusivity within the community, too. Natasha “Zombaekillz” Zinda, the content creator who led the charge in asking Twitch to take down the emote, tells Polygon that she would pick Kahlief Adams, host of the Spawn on Me video game podcast, to be the new face for exciting moments on the platform.
“He has been a voice for change in the black community,” Zinda said, nothing that Adams has used his platforms to have “important” conversations about the gaming industry. “He is the epitome of joy and inclusiveness in our space,” she added. Adams seems to welcome the suggestion, not only retweeting nominations of his cartoon emote on social media, but also offering a potential photograph option.
Similarly, some are hoping that Twitch highlights a Black creator of some sort to succeed PogChamp, ideally someone who is also in the fighting game community. The FGC has a number of Black personalities, some of whom are top players in the space. And since the original PogChamp face gained popularity for playing Street Fighter, it might be a good idea to follow it up with something that harks back to those roots. In the past, Twitch has been critiqued for supporting Black creators only after national attention to police violence — and even then, the platform made the mistake of initially centering white voices. PogChamp could be a great move to ease some of those tensions.
While replacement suggestions run the gamut, nearly everyone wants to see the new PogChamp showcase someone — or something — with an equally bewildered face. Many nominations on social media feature faces with the same expression as the original PogChamp. If it doesn’t show an actual person, the illustration or emote still appears slack-jawed.
Then again, it’s equally possible that Twitch follows up PogChamp with an emote that doesn’t use that wording at all. Polygon has reached out to Twitch regarding its plans for the new hype emote, whether it will be an entirely original design, or if it might use another real-world personality.