When it comes to the question of toxicity in video games, there really is little to argue about. It’s all too real. If your child is a gamer, there is no doubt that he or she has witnessed discrimination, harassment and hate of all kinds. And the hate, well, it is on the rise. In 2021, the Anti-Defamation League found that one in ten gamers between ages 13 and 17 had been exposed to white-supremacist ideology and themes in online multiplayer games. An estimated 2.3 million teens were exposed to white-supremacist ideology in multiplayer games like Roblox, World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Apex Legends, League of Legends, Madden NFL, Overwatch, and Call of Duty. The ADL report on experiences in online multiplayer games shows that the spread of hate, harassment, and extremism in these digital spaces continues to grow unchecked.
Artificial intelligence (AI) could help stop the harassment and bullying that harms the online video game experience, especially in mailboxes. Ubisoft and Riot Games have launched a partnership aimed at creating more user-friendly video game environments using an AI-generated moderation tool to detect toxic behavior. Former efforts of cleaning up toxicity in video games focused merely on certain problematic words. The Zero Harm in Comms initiative will instead use natural language processing. This process promotes a broader understanding of the meaning of sentences in messaging – including context. Realistically, the problem of harmful messages is undeniably difficult to solve. Other members of the video game industry will need to level up and join Riot Games, which is the publisher of League of Legends – one of the most popular competitive games on the planet, to develop systems that allow healthy, safe and inclusive interactions.
Riot Games also recently announced more of their efforts to keep kids gaming and safe – with a new feature called cabined accounts, a way to offer a more protected and tailored experience for younger gamers. Certain features will be disabled at install for younger gamers – until the parents make the explicit choice to enable them include:
- Communicating with other players using voice chat or text chat
- Purchasing items with money
- Email marketing or push notifications
- Sign in with Epic, including linking accounts to certain external services, such as social media websites or video streaming applications
- Custom display names
- SMS-based two-factor authentication
Signaling the desire of the industry to self-regulate, League of Legends, Fortnite, Rocket League, and Fall Guys are all rolling out Cabined Accounts.
Parenting Pro Tip: Make sure your child does not lie about their age when registering for a new game otherwise these new features will not be available on their accounts.
- What are your feelings about parental controls and why?
- When you see hate or harassment in your video games, how does it make you feel? How does it affect your gaming – the experience and who you play with?
- Do you think it’s possible for video game worlds to clean up the toxicity? Why or why not?
- Do you know how to report in-game toxicity and hate? Have you ever done so?
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