Monday, September 20

Efforts to make the gaming community less toxic | Digital Trends Spanish

Playing video games has its benefits. In addition to providing moments of entertainment, they allow the development of skills such as visual spatial intelligence and problem solving. It also works as a way to release stress or meet new people.

They have also helped deal with isolation due to quarantines, allowing groups of friends, who cannot be seen due to the pandemic, to meet virtually and play something together.

However, nothing is perfect. Video games also have a “bad side”, which is toxic behaviors. There is no standard definition of it, but we could say that they are behaviors that intentionally disturb other people, affecting their emotional well-being.

On the day of gamer —Which we could define as a person who dedicates a large part of his life to playing video games— we reflect on how the treatment of online players is and what the industry is doing to improve coexistence.

If you like to play in a solitary way enjoying only the campaigns of the games, it is likely that you have not experienced mistreatment by other players. But if you play online, especially in titles like Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-strike, and Valorant, you will know what we are talking about.

In online games, you can meet really nice people, who are looking to play cooperatively and help others to progress in the game. But in reality, you are more likely to come across aggressive players who insult you or the rest of your team.

Players with toxic attitudes are capable of taking any element of your identity to offend you: your accent, your voice, your avatar, your username, etc. They may harass you by making misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic and racist comments, or even send you death threats. They can also appeal to your skills, for example by saying that you are lousy at the game regardless of your experience or your first day.

These practices are so embedded in the minds of gamers, which many see the exchange of insults as something natural, considering it as part of the gaming experience. And the worst thing is that this behavior is contagious. It’s easy to fall into that game by responding violently to bullies; because of course, we are not made of iron, if someone offends us it is not strange that we react badly. But, unfortunately, that way toxicity continues to be promoted.

Competitiveness and anonymity make games a place for toxic behavior. Since the goal is to win, sometimes you can put victory above all else, thinking that the game is not fun if you do not win at it.

On the other hand, in video games user names are used, which generally do not reveal personal data. This benefits the aggressors, since, after the confrontations, no one will be able to punish them in real life for their behavior and they believe that their attitude will have no consequences. But they do, toxic attitudes affect the emotional well-being of those who receive the insults.

In the case of women, they are most affected than men due to toxicity, they can develop coping mechanisms, such as stopping using the voice chat to hide your gender. This causes them to stop taking advantage of important tools to coordinate in the game with the team, being at a disadvantage compared to men when trying to reach the highest ranks.

On the other hand, by having bad experiences online, girls and women may feel discouraged and stop playing video games. In this way, they would miss an opportunity to develop skills related to spatial cognition, for example, which is associated with success in technology careers (an area in which there is already enormous gender disparity).

A woman plays a video game on a laptop

It is common to witness toxic behavior towards women in video games, but there are other groups that are also victims of it, either because of their sexual orientation, their race, or even their religion. A study conducted in 2020 by the organization called Anti-Defamation League (ADL), revealed the social groups that are the focus of harassment when playing online in the United States.

First, there are women with 41 percent, then the LGBTQ population with 37 percent, and then groups that have been harassed because of their race / ethnicity or religion, with Afro-descendants leading the table with 31 percent. .

The study also found that 81 percent of all people who gamble online have experienced some form of harassment, with the majority receiving physical threats and being stalked or sexually harassed. Additionally, 64 percent claimed to have been impacted by gaming toxicity, with 11 percent reporting depressive or suicidal thoughts as a result.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

The video game industry is aware of this problem, so some companies, such as Electronic Arts and Infinity Ward, have established measures to combat toxic behaviors. The first has its Positive playing card with rules and consequences, and the second has added additional resources to monitor and identify racist content, in addition to increasing the number of players permanently sent off.

In late 2020, the British Esports Association created an alliance with the competitive platform FACEIT for its Women in Esports initiative. Thanks to this, a tournament was launched only for women from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive called the Lioness League.

Also, in February 2021, Anna Donlon, executive producer of Valorantannounced the program VCT Game Changers. This seeks to empower women and other marginalized genders in the competitive scene of Valorant, developing tournaments and secure instances for these groups. That is in addition to improvements to the voice chat moderation tools and in-game reporting system, which Riot Games takes very seriously.

At E3 2021, while companies released trailers and announcements for new games, Take-Two Interactive used its space to address community issues. gamer. He held a panel to speak exclusively about diversity, inclusion and toxic behaviors in the industry, with organizations such as Girls Make Games, Gay Gaming Pros and Games for Change.

There are also organizations that are dedicated to promoting good practices among players, such as The Fair Play Alliance, which is made up of more than 200 video game companies. In addition, it is Raising Good Gamers, which motivates young people to support each other while developing respectful social interactions in online games.

While the industry has been taking care of toxicity in games, it is also something to be concerned about on an individual level. To stop toxic behaviors, you must confront offensive players and foster a defensive culture. Instead of being a bystander who ignores or normalizes toxicity, we can step in and support whoever needs it in a bullying situation, and it is possible to do so without falling into the exchange of insults.

In titles where the player reporting system works relatively well, such as ValorantSometimes it is enough that all or most of the teammates express to the aggressive player that they will report him if he does not stop his comments. By realizing that no one is playing along, the person is likely to begin to behave better during the game. At the very least, it’s a good start to improving coexistence and ending toxic behavior.

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