For the last few weeks, racism and discrimination have been the topic in the media. Some game developers and publishers decided to take a stand and speak out against racism and offensive behaviour in their games. Also in game culture, people should be considered equal. However, there is still a lot of steps required for game communities to prevent bad behaviour.
Protests against racism and discrimination take place in the streets of a number of large cities around the world. Some more peaceful than others, yet they seek the same purpose. It is time for people to be considered as equal, regardless of their appearance or personal background. A purpose that needs to be supported.
Differences in your own neighbourhood
For me, it is a simple thing to say. Born as a white man in a city in the western part of the world, the chances to study and work were almost a fact. However, that does not mean you cannot see the differences in threatment and behaviour in your own neighbourhood.
Friends with different backgrounds tell stories and their own experiences that influence how you look at the world. A fellow student who has been living in the country for a year and is learning the language is viewed with disrespect when asking a question. You notice this behaviour in your own multicultural circle of friends.
Offensive and toxic behaviour
On a personal level, the negative behaviour of people on the internet bothers me. In online games it is possible to chat or talk to each other. An advantage and disadvantage of a gaming tag is that you are anonymous. This means that you can say what you want and no one knowns who you are. That opens doors for people with bad intentions.
Over the years, it became clear that racism, discrimination and offensive behavior are present in online games. If you are a beginner and still learning the game mechanics, it is possible that you will be insulted by the more experienced players in the more competitive games. These types of online games bring out the best and worst in gamers. Chat abuse and offensive language are present in most online multiplayer titles.
Racism and discrimination
Most media sources show games negative manner, that is not the intention of this post. Often you meet strangers online and experience a whole evening of entertainment with people of different nationalities you may never meet in the real world. At its best, games bring people together.
A few rotten apples, however, ruin the experience for a large group of people who have nothing but the best interests for each other. A common problem in the game communities is the presence of racism and discrimination. This can be about the ethnic background of a person or their physical location. A sad event, but not an isolated fact.
Modern technology and filters
Different game developers and publishers announced that they stand together with the game communities, content creators, colleagues and friends against systematic racism and discrimination. A clear signal that also in game communities, these problems occur and must be prevented with additional measures.
As an example, Activision announced a more affresive approach to racist and offensive behaviour in their games. The game Call of Duty – Modern Warfare will include a more expanded reporting tool to file a report against racist or toxic users. More resources, such as a smarter content filter, will be able to permanent ban or punish repeat offenders. The result is still to be seen, but it is a first step.
Representation of minorities and genders
Also, some groups of people are misrepresented or not represented at all in the game communities. If you let the traditional media express their opinion, the modal gamer is a white man. For the most part this statement is correct, yet a large proportion of gamers are of the opposite sex or have a different ethnic background.
In the professional media outlets who report on video games and technology, these people are often represented in smaller numbers. If you take a closer look at the professional game teams, they are often not mixed and the players are men. This creates a false image that women are less important in game communities and the professional competitions. Time to remove this form of structural imbalance from the game communities.
Sexual harassment and hateful language
The misrepresentation of female gamers is one problem, the sexual harassment towards these gamers is a different story. In the game communities, the offensive behaviour and chat abuse goes unpunished. If a female gamer tries to join a game, she may become a victim of sexual harassment and hateful language.
Even some female streamers and content creators experienced this kind of abusive behaviour. Some even mute their microphones in fear to prevent the same sexual harassment from occuring again. It is clear that if the bad behaviour goes unpunished, it will not change anytime soon.
Time for the next step
Together with other bloggers, online influencers and content creators, it is important to understand the extent of these problems and to talk about these topics. In your own communities, no matter how small they may be, there is no room for racism, discrimination and other forms of offensive and toxic behaviour. In the game sector, it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Call of Duty – Modern Warfare, a video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.