Toxic gaming – can we fix it?

Toxic gaming – can we fix it?

Gaming er gøy. Gaming er livet! Som verdens største underholdningsindustri samler gaming ukentlig milliarder av mennesker rundt PC og konsoll.

Men spill har også en mørk side. En ny undersøkelse utført av Unity viser at 67% har blitt utsatt for toxic oppørsel når de spiller. Det er også en bred enighet blant majoriteten av gamere om at det er for mye hets. 77% av de som spiller online mener at det må gjøres noe for å skape tryggere spillopplevelser på nett. Men hvordan går vi videre og skaper en gamingkultur hvor færre opplever hets og trakassering? Vi har sett på tre nivåer av tiltak for finne den beste veien videre. 

Outside help

Several major companies, like Ubisoft, have started collaborating with the police in order to stop serious harassment in online video games. In addition to employing online patrols, they record and scan billions of interactions for words and phrases that could be perceived as offensive. 

However, there are certain issues with this approach. For example, in the UK, only 0.1% of flagged cases end up in a police report. This is first of all due to how difficult it is to locate the offenders. Secondly, the companies have chosen to focus on the most serious offenses, with aims to expand their scope gradually. Although the police may help with such serious offences as death threats, racism and homophobia, it is less certain whether the public authorities can contribute to improving video game culture in general. Sometimes there is a thin line between hate speech and trash talk. In the end, we have to ask ourselves: Do we want severe punishment to act as a foundation of video game culture?

Support, adjust and reward

While the police can only punish, video game developers may employ other and slightly different measures against harassment. For example, they can adjust the consequences to fit the severity of the crime. They might experiment with warnings, voting restrictions and rewards for good behavior, or they could use temporary and permanent bans. There have also been attempts at employing moderators and gamers as "godparents", whose job it is to help improve in-game culture. By utilizing multiple different tools, video game developers can address the whole spectrum of toxicity, from minor violations to criminal acts. This way, misunderstandings and minor violations won’t have unnecessarily large consequences. But perhaps most importantly, it helps create consensus around what is accepted, and what is not. Being automatically banned for small violations is not in our best interest, and while the measures being tested by video game developers currently are a good start, they are by no means perfect. In many cases, people will simply create a new account if they get banned, and many of the measures have proven difficult to implement on large platforms with millions of users. 

A gaming culture for all gamers

One thing is certain - it is impossible to eliminate harassment and hate speech without the help of gamers. When looking at studies, we see that the vast majority of players want less harassment in their video games. If this majority could unite in the fight against harassment, it would go a long way towards solving the problem. Naturally, it is going to involve a combination of several measures. We need to hold accountable those who commit criminal acts, and we depend on video game developers to make their platforms feel safe. However, we still believe that the most important thing is that all gamers should contribute towards a more positive video game culture. This culture is created by gamers. And to make it truly inclusive, we can't let a few rotten apples spoil the fun for everyone else. We have to speak up when we see or experience harassment, and we have to lead by example. If gamers can unite to create a culture that does not tolerate hate speech, it would be the most effective solution by far. 

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