I am a fresh-out-of-college student and a huge gamer. I recently got a job towards the end of this summer and met my team, which consists of a number of people who are in their late 50s.

As I am a huge gamer, I just go home after work and play online games or watch people play. I decided to play this one particular game and watch a stream of it at the same time (I have two monitors and only really pay attention when I am in queue). As I am searching for streams to view, I end up finding the most senior member of my team streaming.

Of course, being the idiot I am, track his game down and join it. I then proceed to single him out and destroy him in the game since I am a lot better than he is. Each time, he gets more visibly mad, which causes me to continue until he starts a very specific sexist and racial rant against me based on my username. What I thought was harmless fun ended up showing me his true colors.

I'll end up seeing him this coming Monday and would like to know if I should let HR know about this story or tell him that I found his behavior extremely offensive (though I won't say it was me who did that to him).

I would also like to clarify that his stream is one of the streams where you can see the person in addition to the game.

  • 5
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user44108
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 14:56
  • 16
    Highly related, or even possible dupe on the core issue: I've killed my colleagues' characters during RPG session, now they won't talk to me
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 15:48
  • 8
    If you want to chat, use the chat room linked in the first comment. If you want to comment, add your opinion, etc, that's the place for it -- not here.
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 22:36
  • These rat-kids who think they are good at games are just sooooo annoying
    – David
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 11:17

15 Answers 15


What I thought was harmless fun ended up showing me his true colors.

I would think very hard about whether this really showed his true colors.

  • You tracked him down/stalked him.
  • Singled him out to destroy his fun

When you are fresh out of college you may not know this, but spare time is valuable when you have a job. It's no longer this always available commodity that you can throw away. So you really destroyed something valuable with your deliberate actions.

If you came to me and said you took deliberate actions against somebody to destroy something valuable and in response he used offensive words... I don't know, I find the destructive acts way more telling of immature and probably harmful character than anything he might have uttered at the heat of the moment when being unfairly singled out.

My advice if you want to stay in the workforce: stop this behavior and never tell anybody what you did that day. Just hope nobody ever finds out.

  • 294
    Something to add here, Streamsniping, which is what the OP did is generally frowned upon and loosely against Twitch's TOS. Assuming they used twitch, since it's the more popular streaming platform. Streamsniping is considered a form of targeted harassment. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 14:14
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    It is, I think, important to emphasise that regardless of whether the co-worker's behaviour was better or worse than stream-sniping, harassing your co-workers is itself also unacceptable behaviour and it would be best to avoid casting stones while living in that particular glass house
    – Pingcode
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:57
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    Well, thanks to my post here, he may have found out it was me. He hasn't spoken to me outside of the bare minimum for a while. I am very certain he reads this stack exchange now and may have posted an answer here (I hope it's not this one).
    – Pillip F
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 14:48
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    @PillipF Something which might help with rationalizing what happened: most mature theories about racism and sexism suggest that everyone has a little of them inside. Mature civilized people choose not to let this out into civilized life. However, when someone is pushed to their limits, they may grasp at any tool with which to harm their assailant. They may find these words to be the only tools they have. That may be showing their true colors, but rather showing them in the Lord of the Flies way, where what we see is the dark that is in each and every one of us.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 16:35
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    I can't say whether they are a racist person or a sexist person, because I have not met them. You'll have to make that call. But I'd argue that is at least a reasonable argument for why these acts do not compel one to decide that this person is racist or sexist in a meaningful way. I'd encourage having other evidence before arriving at that conclusion.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 16:37

Honestly in my opinion if he's not behaving that way at work, it's none of your (or HR's) business. I think it's as simple as that.

Lots of people will curse and shout at home, but at work they put on their professional hat. Unless they're publicly and visibly representing a company there's no problem there.

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    Also the curses might not represent his actual believes. To my shame in some situations I've used words, which I wouldn't normally use, solely to upset someone.
    – Chris
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 7:40
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    Agreed! for example: After a day of dealing with computer issues and keeping myself calm and professional, I simply can't contain myself any longer with any computer issues at home.
    – HTDutchy
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 8:01
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    Typically, I think that racist and sexist remarks are an unnecessarily measure, but given the OP's relentless trolling, it's the only the way to get him to go away. If you're not a public figure and it's outside of work hours, I don't see an issue.
    – jcmack
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 21:51
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    @AnthonyGrist Yes. That's the whole point of cursing -- the fact that it's illicit language is what makes it cathartic. By all conventional measures, using such invective when you're angry shows that you view those words as being bad.
    – bvoyelr
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 16:50
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    If we all had to answer at work for any intemperate word we said outside of work, would any of us have jobs at all?
    – user1602
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:09

As a gamer of more than 20 years, your behavior is abhorrent, and a shining example of what types of behaviors toxic people/players exhibit; the type that should be purged from the community.


No, you should not bring this to HR. You should not bring this to anybody.


You didn't mention whether or not the name or logo of the company was displayed during the stream, so I feel safe in my assumption that it wasn't. At that point, HR probably doesn't care. Telling them any of this will only direct the spotlight on you. A senior colleague, who said some things that could cause offense while being harassed, is probably a lot more forgivable than a new employee, just out of college, going out of their way to harass a senior colleague, that they just met.

Let me try to pick this apart.

As I am searching for streams to view, I end up finding the most senior member of my team streaming.

This could have been a great source of camaraderie between you too. But you blew it. I don't believe that you can even mention that you play the game now, without slipping up and telling him something about the match you were harassing him in, which will make it very easy to identify you as the harasser.

Of course, being the idiot I am, track his game down and join it. I then proceed to single him out and destroy him in the game since I am a lot better than he is.

No, you weren't being an idiot. Idiots don't know what they're doing. You were being a troll and trolls know exactly what they're doing.

You singled out your coworker, in a game that he probably enjoyed playing, and harassed him. I've said harass a few times now, some people might think it's being too harsh, or using the wrong word. I'll just refer to this bit here

I then proceed to single him out and destroy him in the game since I am a lot better than he is.

Emphasis mine.

Each time, he gets more visibly mad, which causes me to continue...

So you've been watching and harassing this guy for long enough to see that your actions are making him visibly mad; and that causes you to continue harassing him? Why would you continue a pattern of behavior, that is making your senior colleague visibly mad?

The only answer I can consider to be true, is that it was your intention all along to see how far you could push him.

...until he starts a very specific sexist and racial rant against me based on my username. What I thought was harmless fun ended up showing me his true colors.

Not that I particularly care for the answer, but how could you consider anything that you did to be harmless fun? At each and every step, you have done the wrong thing.

You've harassed this guy, to the point that he probably (fairly, I might add) felt that he was being personally attacked, and now you're "offended" when he personally attacked you? It "offended" you so much, that now you're trying to punish him for his comments by bringing it to HR?

I found his behavior extremely offensive

I don't know if I'd be able to find his behavior more offensive than yours. Especially not "extremely".

When people are being harassed and their heart rate is high, and they're stressed, and they've got that fight-or-flight mechanism kicking in, and the harassment does not stop, they'll probably say things they don't mean.

They'll probably think that all of the other tools at their disposal have failed (because they have) but the situation is not getting better. The antagonist hasn't stopped. What other things are left that could stop the antagonist? When you're under that pressure "offend the antagonist" probably doesn't sound too bad.

I only hope that your coworker finds enjoyment in the game still.

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    Well, this is a popcorn-friendly post. Keep in mind comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 1:56
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    Additionally, did the OP use unfair information from the stream to "locate" his opponent? (e.g. which building he is hiding in, what gun he has) Stream "sniping" is pretty low... Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 13:39
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    "...until he starts a very specific sexist and racial rant against me based on my username" - The OP should also consider not using the same (or a similar) sounding username in any account that might be more visible in his office
    – user13267
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 8:24
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    "I only hope that your coworker finds enjoyment in the game still" - BEAUTIFUL! Seriously, OP could have indefinitely ruined the one fun thing this coworker had. The one fun thing they enjoyed doing, no matter what. Love the answer. Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 19:42
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    Oh, and the OP is NOT a better player than his coworker. Stream sniping is the opposite of skill. Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 20:29

If you want to report this behaviour, then use the in-game/platform abuse reporting tools and leave it at that.

Separate this incident from the workplace and do whatever you would do if you saw this guy online and didn't know him:

Report and block/ignore

Taking this into the workplace will only create ongoing problems in real life. Unless this guy abuses you in the workplace, then there's not much you can do about it.

Also, take a look at what you did there. You recognized him, tracked him down and systematically pounded at him, destroying his enjoyment of the game and embarrassing him in front of his viewers. This in effect is a form of abuse in itself. You could have played this incident in a more constructive, enjoyable manner for the both of you and built a friendship rather than a rift.

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    built a friendship rather than a rift so very true!
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 8:27
  • +1 striking a friendship with the most senior member of your team is always beneficial. Change your in-game name and go in and help him before "being pleasantly surprised" that he is your senior. Sneaky yeah but he'll brush it off as coincidence. Especially if the game he's playing is popular. Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 11:40
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    BTW, in-game report might backfire too if they have strong anti-griefing policies. Not that I think it is a bad thing in this particular case... Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 18:44
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    Reporting this behaviour to game/streaming platform is a horrible and unethical thing to do here, as it would have to inlcude straight up lying in the report itself, unless OP truthfully informs in his report he has been using cheats to repeatedly harass the person whose response to those actions he is reporting.
    – johnyu
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 13:15
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    @johnyu I didn't see where the OP states that he's using cheats or any other kind of exploit. If that's the case, I'll gladly change my answer.
    – user44108
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 14:15

I'll end up seeing him this coming Monday and would like to know if I should let HR know about this story or tell him that I found his behavior extremely offensive ( though I won't say it was me who did that to him ).

I can't imagine how whining to HR "We were playing a game and he was mean to me" could be a good thing for your career.

And do you really imagine that telling only one side of the story will end well? Certainly the other side will come out.

Lay low and avoid this team member, or be a grown up and apologize for intentionally antagonizing him. He might even apologize in return.

Either way, it might be time to mature a bit, stop being an "idiot that I am".

What I thought was harmless fun ended up showing me his true colors.

It seems like you both revealed some true colors. If this is your idea of harmless fun, you might want to think more carefully.

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    "... or be a grown up and apologize for intentionally antagonizing him. He might even apologize in return." - +1 for a constructive way forward.
    – marcelm
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 11:52
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    Not just "we were playing a game". More like "I anonymously sought out my coworker online and harassed and antagonized him until he cussed at me". Definitely not going to go over well with HR. If anybody at my company did this, it would be an instant "this is a reason to fire this person at the next available opportunity" mark.
    – Dr. Funk
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 15:20
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    @Dr.Funk I would consider that the next available opportunity, myself. You have a team member who admits that they consider anonymously tracking down and harassing coworkers to be "harmless fun". Can you imagine the joy they'd take in toxic office politics? I sure can, and that's not a risk I'm willing to take, either with the other employees or the company's projects.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:30

In my opinion, you were the one that behaved in a very toxic way. As other posters already stated, when having a full-time job and maybe a family, you no longer have that much time to spend on your hobbies as you had during college. He probably did not spend as much time in the game as you.

You, on the other hand, are a new employee and behaved, drastically spoken, sadistic when you streamsniped him and to some extend bullied him when you focused on "destroying him". If I were the HR rep and someone new came to me with a story as you presented us here, I would probably evaluate how to proceed with you and not with the long-term employee...

Why don't you use your experience in the game to help him become better at it? You can talk to him during lunch break about the game so you have something in common or even play together. I always find it hard to find a common point with much older coworkers but here you have the same hobby and if he streams he is probably a huge gamer as well.

Take this opportunity, turn it into an advantage and make yourself a friend at work and as he is a senior, exchange your knowledge.

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    OP can still do that, but should probably change their username.
    – simbabque
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 16:27
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    -1 Don't talk to the senior teammate about the game at lunch. At least, don't bring it up, don't let them know you found their stream and joined their game if it comes up on its own, and don't condescendingly tell the teammate how to play better unless you start to develop a friendship around the game later on.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 22:01
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    It's quite unlikely the coworker would remember the name, depending what it is I guess. If nothing else, I'd definitely wait several weeks and try to wait for the coworker to mention the game instead. I probably wouldn't try to offer tips unless you're playing the game together, and also probably wouldn't say anything unless the coworker asks (some gamers / people take offense).
    – Tas
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 22:39
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    I'd suggest changing the username and if OP wants to discuss the game, start with "so what are your hobbies" at lunch and feign surprise to find that they play the same game. Then if coworker wants to play together, OP should probably also go and change their appearance in game if it is a game with a customizable character appearance (I'm thinking RPG-style appearance, not "standards" like MOBAs have). Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 16:52
  • Those are all great contributions and I would agree that I would not say that I was the guy that bullied him on stream. As Kevin put it, don't bluntly say "I was the guy that destroyed you" but I assume it is common sense to not do so. Obviously, you should do it like @SnyperBunny commented and start with asking about the hobbies in general and not about gaming or this specific game right away.
    – Nils Ole
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:30

Two Wrongs

You both did something wrong.

[...] I end up finding the most senior member of my team streaming. Of course, being the idiot I am, track his game down and join it. I then proceed to single him out and destroy him in the game since I am a lot better than he is. Each time, he gets more visibly mad, which causes me to continue [...]

That's griefing and borderline stalking to boot. Not cool. Very stupid. Be glad he (apparently) didn't recognise you. Don't do it again.

[...] he starts a very specific sexist and racial rant against me based on my username. What I thought was harmless fun ended up showing me his true colors.

Yes, yes it did. Keep that in the back of your mind when dealing with him in the future. That is — unfortunately — about all you can do.

And No Rights

I'll end up seeing him this coming Monday and would like to know if I should let HR know about this story or tell him that I found his behavior extremely offensive ( though I won't say it was me who did that to him ).

No. No. HR is not your friend.

HR's primary goal is to keep the company happy; not to keep individual employees happy or to mete out justice. They will only do so if it serves their primary goal.
In this case, there's a conflict between a new hire and a senior team member. Unless it will somehow damage the company, any outcome will likely be in favour of the senior member.

Besides, this happened outside of your work, and even though it happened with a co-worker, he didn't know he was dealing with a co-worker. This is not a workplace conflict; don't turn it into one.

I can see why you're upset, especially if the sex and race he perceived from your username actually hit home. If you want to, file a report with the streaming service or the party hosting the game. Be warned though that especially the latter may find you guilty of griefing and take action against you as well.

Also take care to find out how anonymous the reporting process is.

Bottom Line

You've found out an uncomfortable truth about a co-worker. The way you found it out leaves you little opportunity to act upon it.

He may reveal his true colours some other time; be prepared then. But the current circumstances give you little room to act and no recourse through HR.

  • 1
    Given OP's trackrecord ("I won't tell it was me who did it") I'm pretty sure the 50 year old guy didn't go on a sexist racist rant, unless his nickname was "LittleAssianFemaleAssassin" ... and even in that case when literally the only information you have is this, there's little you could say to make yourself feel better. OP Should go to HR, they need to have all this on record for future references. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 11:51
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    @ИвоНедев. If OP goes to HR, there's a very good chance they (OP) will be fired shortly after that. HR tends to investigate both sides, because their job is to cover the company's behind. Getting rid of someone that does what OP did to placate a senior employee with a known track record of bringing profit is a totally reasonable outcome here. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 13:35
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    As @MadPhysicist says HR protects the company. The most senior team member has a value much greater than some new hire fresh from college. If they think it's a problem having both people working in the company, even if the deem the more senior college to be a bit more at fault is is still the only logical conclusion to fire the new from college guy and just hire another one.
    – Josef
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 8:30
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    @ИвоНедев In Germany we have that proverb "Gschäft ist Gschäft und Schnaps ist Schnaps". Boils down to "don't mix private and work affairs". And after all HR is not your friend!
    – Fildor
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 16:12

Maybe don't play with him anymore if he's upsetting you that much. Taking this up with HR is a rather juvenile thing to do and almost certainly won't go anywhere other than making a name for you in the company as a trouble maker.

As mentioned nothing will be done about it unless the guy is playing with a gamertag like "JohnDoeFromAbcSoftware".

  • 3
    What if you can see the person in the video stream?
    – Pillip F
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:14
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    Is there any reason to think his comments and actions represent the company just by looking at him? ie can you tell where he works from his face?
    – solarflare
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:45
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    @PillipF I think YOU showed your true colors. Not much of a team player, I would fire you immediately if I were your manager.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 2:45
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    @PillipF "I didn't mean any harm to anyone", "Each time, he gets more visibly mad, which causes me to continue". You knew that what you were doing was causing him grief and anger, and that didn't slow you down, in fact it made you do it more. That is by definition meaning to cause harm. Think through your actions and how they impact people in the future
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 17:12
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    @Kevin It is not that deep, its a game, if you rage this hard over a game you shouldn't play anyways.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Jan 8 at 16:54

The rules around this sort of thing will vary depending on where you are, and whether your company has a code of conduct that covers employee behaviour outside the workplace.

In general, employers are more likely to discipline employees for behaviour outside the workplace if some of the following conditions are met:

  • The person was easily identifiable as their employee (e.g. their profile or username mentions who they work for)
  • The behaviour raises doubts about their ability to do their job (e.g. an animal welfare officer who mistreats animals)
  • The behaviour is extreme enough to provoke public outrage that could be harmful to the employers (nobody wants to have protesters lining up outside their office).

Unless your employer is particularly attentive to issues of racism/sexism, or they have a code of conduct that encompasses this sort of behaviour, it's unlikely that you'll get a lot of joy out of HR. The fact that you sought him out on this platform is not going to help you here.

You might consider dealing with his behaviour through whatever in-game abuse reporting mechanisms exist. This won't solve the problem of having to work with a bigot, but it avoids the risk of blowback to yourself (assuming your username isn't recognisable) and the game admins are more likely to have access to the info needed to investigate this case.

  • I am thinking of reporting him on the platform he is streaming from. Thanks.
    – Pillip F
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:18
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    @PillipF If you were offended by the response in the game, that is the thing to do. But that is a game issue, not a Workplace issue. It does not involve your work or your workplace.
    – Brandin
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 6:11
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    @PillipF So your report is going to say "I deliberately and intentionally set out to spoil someone's game, being an out-and-out troll and not knowing right from wrong. And they insulted me. Waah!" I strongly suggest you don't file a report, otherwise it's just as likely you'll be blocked.
    – Graham
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:47
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    @PillipF Are you going to include the stream-sniping detail in your report, or tell them he said these things unprovoked? Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 12:54
  • @Graham Or, if it's Twitch, "I violated the ToS by stream-sniping, and the streamer got so bad he said some mean words! I want him banned!" Yeah, that'll go great for the reporter. In other words, yes! OP should absolutely do it! They deserve to be permabanned from Twitch; that kind of toxic behavior ruins the gaming community for so many people.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:33

I think you read some comments about your behaviour, which I found quite well deserved. But what should you do? You have basically two choices:

  1. Be quiet and hope that nobody finds out about it, because it won't end good for you. (Why? Because he can single you out and destroy you in the workplace, if he chooses to do so.)

  2. Do the grown-up thing, go to your colleague, and apologise for your actions.

The latter is probably a lot better. It's one thing to make a mistake, it's another thing to own up to it. Everyone makes mistakes. Owning up and fixing a mistake gets you major bonus points. You might even get an apology back for the insults.

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    He may chose not to be forgiving. Keep that in mind. I know I wouldn't if you ruined my precious weekend that I had been saving for weeks to get away from work and family. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 13:43
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    You say that if people know, it won't end good for OP. Then you proceed to suggest him to tell someone. Your former option is better. The latter is just a drama catalyst. This issue is so petty that bringing it up at all is a mistake. Very best case scenario: things get awkward.
    – Clay07g
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 20:20
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    I guess it would depend on whether the new employee is fairly certain that the senior colleague was able to identify and recognize them as the new employee. In that case, apologizing is the best plan. Bu, if the new employee is confident in their anonymity, then let it be, forget about it. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 5:21
  • 3
    @clay There is a difference between being found out, and coming forward yourself. And if the senior reads workplace he knows already.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 8:08
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    Although I agree he should apologize, I would rather he apologized in the game/stream. This isn't a work issue at the moment and there is no reason to make it become one. If one of my colleagues saw me doing something embarrassing at the weekend then I would hate for them to bring it up at work.
    – Buh Buh
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:13

Instead of reporting this to the HR on the company you are working with, just report him to the stream site and to the game. As far as I know, he doesn't violated any rules in the company you are working with, UNLESS there are company policies that you guys have to follow, like when people in a certain company is employed, and they tweeted racial tweets, and their boss or company finds about it, then kicks them out of the job.

But you know, I really do think you are the biggest contributory factor here, humans you see, just like other living organisms has what we called defense mechanisms, and just remember that in every action there is an opposite reaction. You, intentionally made him angry, so basically being angry is sometimes makes people unreasonable.

  • 16
    And remember that if you file an honest report that it will likely be you who gets booted. Most gaming companies will make a certain allowance for inappropriate language, but not as much for a pattern of inappropriate action. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 13:44

Whenever you prepare to bring a third party with actual powers to resolve conflict, like HR or your bosses boss or a regulatory body or police or courts or any one or anything, you should always ask yourself what you hope to achieve? What's your best outcome?

Because HR is not your friend. But really that's just a specific form of people in power are not your friend, they are friends to themselves first. If they find you uncomfortable or dangerous to their goals, they will not hesitate to use anything you say against you, (And a good apologist can truly use anything you say against you) while totally ignoring any "wrongs" the other party has committed a long as they aren't a danger to the people in power.

I don't think you have anything to gain here. You don't have a best outcome. You have one hearsay of an off hours stream where a coworker said bad things after being systematically provoked by a harassing troll.

If racism and sexism becomes a pattern that you and other coworkers notice, then you should collectively bring this to the attention of management/HR.

Until then you should watch your own behavior. If this had happened in any other context than an online game, you would at least have a restraining order if not find yourself in court.

(I'd also be willing to wager you're the type of personality that If this happened to you, you would have more than a few savory words of your own for your attacker.)


Short answer:

  • No. You cannot go to HR about this. This encounter was not in a professional setting.

What you can do:

  • Report him to Twitch for his "racial and sexist rants" on his stream

Why you shouldn't:

  • You violated Twitch's TOS by watching his stream, and stalking him in-game. Also, you're cheating

What you should do:

  • Leave your colleague alone, both at work and in-game
  • Stop cheating
  • HR is not your mommy

I don't see what your employers HR has to do with this.

From what you told us I assume neither of you were identifying yourselves as working for the company, not even logged in with your real names.

So this is private time.
You were on a public server so they have their own guidelines. You could take it up with them.

However, for you to complain about him after how you behaved is unethical.

Or do you want to not only stream snipe but also character assassinate him and possibly getting him fired for good measure ?!
You're abusing codes of conduct laid out in good faith to avoid harassment and hate speech.

You were actually the one harassing and you'd be exactly who people complain about citing rampant political correctness and witch hunts.


So long as you are prepared for the potential negative consequences to your own career here then you should call him out on his behaviour but without involving HR, here is why:

I get why you want to go to HR, he's done something you find considerably offensive and you don't think someone with such an attitude should be associated with the company. The fact he wasn't acting as a representative of the company / showing any company branding at the time is immaterial, it is the act that is the issue and what you feel that indicates of him as a person.

However, I don't think the situation you've described is strong enough to warrant HR involvement (or any form of work involvement for that matter).

Consider these points and see if you see it in a different light:

  • The situation you've described sounds more like a sudden outburst of anger that took on the ugly face of racism and sexism based on the little information he had available to insult you with. If you had saw him at a Neo-Nazi march in town then I'd be inclined to agree that you should inform your work as well. People with such deep rooted hate are not people I'd want to associate with or work with either. Even if they show no outward signs of their hate at work such deep beliefs will affect their decision making process and lead to discrimination, even if it is well hidden. However, even though this is still racist and sexist, we need to acknowledge it is not that.

  • You did not see his "true colours" as he was playing an online game streaming to an audience. Hence you saw the persona he puts on for the stream. Hear me out on this, I'm not using it as an excuse to get away with any behaviour we want to but we all put on different personas for different places, I'm a very different person when at work, at home with the kids or at the pub with friends and being a steamer just adds one more place for one more persona. These personas can vary quite drastically from my 'true person' and I dare say being online steaming to strangers has the potential to be the furthest of them all (to point of it more being 'acting' than being 'him').

  • It's common for streamers to widely over-react to positive and negative situations in game. As a gamer I imagine you are aware of this but perhaps the nature of it and it being targeted overshadowed this. But keep in mind, similar to the persona point above, his excessive overreaction on stream doesn't mean this is how they would in react in everyday life, especially in work situations.

  • He was under duress. Sure, in an ideal world we'd all be model citizens all of the time, but we live in the real world, not the ideal one and when people are put under considerable stress they make poor calls. You might be tempted to go to HR or management because of this, after all you don't want him flipping out at the clients / colleagues if things get stressful at work, but I think most professionals know to react differently to work stress and 'getting repeatedly pwned by l33t playerz while streaming' stress.

These are the things that make me think you shouldn't involve HR but they are not excuses for his behaviour and I still think you should call him out on it!

Although I think sexist and racist behaviour should be challenged I acknowledge the real world risks associated with doing so. So with this in mind here is a quick disclaimer that depending on how your colleague reacts this could well be 'career suicide' so gauge it based on how important you feel it is to stand up to this instance of the behaviour and your preparedness to deal with whatever fallout comes your way. If you don't want the aggravation of the consequences I don't think you'll be doing the world a great disservice to wait and see if this is a pattern of behaviour that happens offline as well.

Assuming you are happy to, and want to challenge it here is how I propose doing so. I'm suggesting this based on the idea that if he is a gamer as well, once he's over the initial shock / anger at finding out it was you that kicked his ass he'll likely see the funny side as well. This is based on my belief that what you did you didn't do to be vindictive or malicious in the first place and that you've given him no sign of this, you just did it because you were bored, you could, and you figured it would be kinda funny.

  • Next time you see him tell him you have a confession to make but that you'd rather do it in private (make sure to do this in private as you've already embarrassed him and we don't want to do it again):

You - So, see at the weekend, I'm afraid that was me kicking your ass on PUBG...

Him - What, really!? When?

You - Saturday night, I was flicking through the streams on Twitch and I recognised you right away.

Him - Wow, that was you?!?

  • Apologise for messing up his game / stream. Even if you don't feel like you owe him an apology do it anyway. Yes, you were just playing the game, but you were also doing it in a rather unsportsmanlike way and possibly ruined his evening so an apology will go a long way here. Also, it'll help smooth things over and it is better if you are on a 'level footing' for the next step (currently you have 'one over' on him, by apologising we attempt to mitigate that):

You - Yeah, I'm sorry about that, I saw your face appear in my stream and I just had to drop in! I've been playing for years so have gotten pretty good but I should have just said hey or played a few rounds or something, there was no need for me to push it as far as I did though.

Him - Yeah, you were really kicking my ass, it was pretty shitty to keep seeking me out...

  • Acknowledge it and call him out on his response to it at the same time. By doing so you can gauge how he feels about his outburst and also give him a chance to justify himself if he feels he needs to, or better yet, apologise now that he knows it was you:

You - Yeah, it was a poor call on my part and I'm sorry, but what was all that sexist racist abuse about at the end? I was really surprised to hear that come from you?

Him - Yeah, I know man, I'm really sorry I completed lost it and crossed the line...

Or maybe - What that? Oh that wasn't serious, it's just part of the stream I do for the viewers, they love it when I explode at people...

Or maybe even - Well what do you expect, you were being a complete ass...

And then how you respond to his response is completely up to you:

  • If he gives a positive response and you feel it is valid you could use this encounter to strike up a friendship and put the incident in the past. Perhaps you could even play online together again, although maybe some co-op to start with.
  • If you feel his response isn't valid then you could distance yourself from him personally and professionally, or if your work depends on it then just personally.

However, whatever you decide to do, I wouldn't involve HR.

  • 43
    This is not good advice. You are basically telling OP to provoke him further. There is no need to bring this up at work. It is not a work related issue. Clearly the co-worker was not happy about what happened. This can only make OP's life worse Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 12:52
  • 18
    @RyanfaeScotland - "This is not good advice." and "You are basically telling OP to provoke him further." says it all.
    – Donald
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 16:25
  • 5
    @RyanfaeScotland it is uncommon to ever know the reason for a downvote. It could be for any reason. Its nothing personal, just means people don't agree with your answer. For me to retract my downvote, the entire answer would need to change because I disagree with the premise of talking about this. That's ok, some people might think this is a great answer. I wouldn't change it just because of downvotes. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:01
  • 31
    -1. I think the entire premise of this answer hinges on your belief that the OP didn't act with malicious intent. You state "This is based on my belief that what you did you didn't do to be vindictive or malicious in the first place". based on the votes on the other answers and comments, I think it's pretty clear that the OP did in fact have malicious intent. Otherwise, OP would not have taken all of the actions that they did. If you start from the premise that the OP did have malicious intent, the entire answer falls apart.
    – user29542
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 21:58
  • 8
    Sorry folks, don't mean to get defensive or question your reasons for downvoting and I do still appreciate the extra time taken to explain your votes even if I don't agree with them. Despite the reasons you folks have gave me, looking at the other answers it just really feels like I'm getting downvoted because I don't treat the OP like a trolling piece of shit and instead offer actual advice on how to confront the racist and sexist behaviour he witnessed, which many people seem to think is acceptable if you are provoked. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 23:26

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