It’s a fact that video games and the gaming industry are an ever growing presence in the contemporary society. Mainstreaming, branching, evolving and multiplying, games are presence in the life of today’s kids, adolescents and adults alike. As an art form and as entertainment, it’s a massive industry that feeds and interacts with an ever growing target audience.
And even though online gaming might not be something new, its expression and relevance in numbers is now impossible to ignore when trying to analyze online realities. Today, more than 217 million people worldwide play online games. The average age of a gamer is 30 and around 42% of players are women.
Online gamers as now more than ever, and consists of more and more diverse people. Gamers not only just play more, they also interact more with each other. Games are now more complex, requiring more cooperation, fueling more competitiveness and building endless conversations and communities wherever it resides. Voice chat, video chat and instant messaging are daily tools of the online worlds.
But as games and its communities grow so must their community management policies. Online games are subject to some of the same challenges other online environments face. Bullying, Hatespeech, “trolling” and the negative spectrum of the human interactions are also on the rise in virtual gaming worlds. Without proper community manager and a concrete focus on building healthy and friendly online gaming communities, games can become extremely toxic environments where sexist, racism, racism and general bigotry flourish without control.
Some examples of this can be seen in the following video produced by the MIT.
How can we fight this? White Knighting?
Well.. the answer might be that game developers are finally understanding the importance of building inclusive and friendly gaming communities. Community management has become a central part in defining the success of an online game. Fostering diversity and inclusiveness and promoting online respect is task game makers need to put a clear focus on. It is possible for games maintaining their standards for challenges competitiveness and fun while still maintaining friendly and healthy environments for all kinds of players.
It’s also fundamental to understand and deconstruct what exactly in games is fueling the negative behaviors in gamers. Are people just evil/natural born trolls? Is the most game’s inherent sexism and bigotry shaping their gamers reactions? Can players shape games instead? How exactly can we incorporate feminist, lgbt, etc, inclusive experiences into current online games?