[Updated] The Bizarre E3 2021 Chat Filter Was Just a Test

E3 2021 Chat Filter cover

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[Updated] The Bizarre E3 2021 Chat Filter Was Just a Test

June 1, 2021

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

Update (06/61/21, 8:44 PM EST) – E3 has responded to our questions and provided a statement explaining the strange E3 2021 chat filter that was discovered in a Javascript file on the E3 website.

According to the event's organizers, the list of words was a placeholder that was being used for functionality testing live on the site and was provided by a third-party software company. Additionally, they added that this is in no way a final list.

Here's the ESA's statement in full:

"The team working on the E3 portal and app used a sampling of words that came from a third party software company only for the purpose of functionality testing on the portal. This is not the final list, only a test list. The primary goal of curating this final list is to ensure the moderation functionality is being properly implemented to create a safe environment for all users."

Our original story continues below.

 
 

What appears to be the E3 2021 chat filter has been discovered on the upcoming expo's website and it includes a number of strange banned words including "toejam," "steamy," and "canadian."

E3 2021 is just a few short days away. This year's show is going to be a virtual event with online interaction, and that means that there will have to be some kind of moderation, some of which will be automated with a word filter.

Now, it looks like someone has found a javascript file containing a list of banned words. While there are many sensible choices such as swear words, ethnic slurs, and certain anatomical terms (none of which are fit for print), the list also includes a number of downright bizarre choices.

E3 2021 Chat Filter slice

The Weird Words of the E3 2021 Chat Filter

The apparent E3 2021 chat filter has a pretty long list of words and many of them are quite sensible choices as shown on a thread on ResetEra. The thread explains that a JavaScript file on e3expo-portal.com reveals what looks like a very long list of banned words, most of which make sense. Some of the words, however, are downright strange.

Whoever made this list was certainly trying to cover all of the bases. Most common and uncommon swear words — ranging from the kind of language that can get you in trouble in kindergarten to the sort of insults that can get you punched in the face — are included in the list, along with several common variants, misspellings, and attempts to work around a chat filter (e.g. typing "j3rk0ff" instead of "jerkoff").

 
 

A somewhat stranger inclusion is a number of religious terms. "Allah," "Quran," "God," and "Christ" are all on the list, and this is where things start to get weird: "omg" and "omfg" are both banned. Some political topics such as "democratic socialism" and  "trump train" are also banned. While some of these word choices might raise an eyebrow, one could understand why someone would want to avoid encouraging political or religious discussion for a completely unrelated event.

And now we go off the rails — users on ResetEra and our own investigation have uncovered some strange choices on the list. Here are some of the weirder words that have been discovered in alphabetical order:

  • beaver
  • canada
  • canadian
  • cayenne
  • cracker
  • diaphragm
  • rally stream
  • right side broadcast
  • mexico
  • monkey
  • steamy
  • toejam

These might seem a bit odd at first glance, but at least some of these words make sense. "Beaver," for example, is an older euphemism for "vagina." "Monkey" is sometimes used as a derogatory term for black people and "cracker" is sometimes used as a derogatory term for white people.

There's also the inclusion of "canada" and "canadians." South Park memes about blaming Canada aside, there have been reports from more than a decade ago of people using "Canadians" as a code word for black people. There is some speculation that this is an attempt to prevent discussion of a recent news story where the bodies of 200 children were found at one of the infamous residential schools in Canada, but my gut tells me that this list of words was likely written before that story came to light.

 

Some of the choices seem exceedingly overzealous. A "diaphragm" is a contraceptive that also happens to be the name of a body part, and I'm not entirely sure why someone would think it would come up in conversation in such a way that it needs to be banned. "Steamy" is a very tame synonym for "sexy" that could also be used to describe something with steam coming out of it — and goodness help you if you mistype "Steam" in chat.

And now we come to the downright bizarre choices — I have no idea what "rally stream" or "right side broadcast" might mean and my research turns up nothing. I don't understand how "cayenne" could be used offensively in any capacity unless someone really hates the Porsche Cayenne, or a certain pepper. There are any number of reasons that someone could have made the decision to block "Mexico," but absolutely none of them make a lick of sense to me.

We'll wrap this exploration of banned words by mentioning one of the most preposterous entries — if you want to discuss the new Toejam & Earl game, it looks like you're out of luck — for some reason, the word "toejam" is banned. (If you were unaware, "toe jam" is a term for the gunk between your toes.)

That brings us to the ultimate question — what exactly is this list going to be used for? Is it going to block these terms in the creation of usernames or will it be used to censor chat during events? We've reached out to the convention's organizers about this E3 chat filter list and have been told that they're looking into the situation; we'll update this article when we receive more details.

What do you think about these strange E3 chat filter words? Do you think this filter is overzealous or is it better to play it safe? Let us know in the comments below!

A photograph of Robert N Adams
Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!

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