Hate speech: what video games can teach social media (and the real world)

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Online video games have years of advantage in the fight against bullying.

We spoke with psychologists and scientists to understand how attacks have been limited and what lessons social media can learn.
Violence does not always breed violence, battlefields can be more peaceful than agoras. At least in the virtual world. Online games have moved on from the screen and in recent years have managed to limit hate speech to crushing proportions. In 2015, League of Legends reduced reports of abusive language by more than 40%. Four years later, Overwatch dropped reports of toxic players by a similar percentage.These two cases are included in a generalized trend. Many social networks would dream of being able to present similar figures, but it is not that easy. Concern to limit hate speech has later reached a much more complex and heterogeneous ecosystem. Society tends to look down on the video game industry but there are many things it can learn from it. This is perhaps the most important.
Online video games are by no means an ideal world. It’s a competitive, anonymous, testosteronic, and largely consequence-free environment. These circumstances have made virtual settings a fertile ground for cyberbullying, hate speech and insults. But a number of professionals have been studying and limiting these practices for years with remarkable success.
Celia Hodent is one of them. This psychologist has worked in games like Fornite (one of the most popular in the world, with 61 million monthly users) as the director of user experience. For years she has been an independent consultant, activist, and author of essays such as The Gamer ‘s Brain or The Psychology of Video Games . “The videogame industry is making a great effort to tackle the problem,” she says with conviction. “Although much remains to be done, codes of conduct are being established, offering reporting systems, expelling players …”. Holdent conjugates these achievements in the impersonal but could do it in the first person. She is a member of the FairPlay Alliance, an association that brings together large companies and professionals in the sector to share problems and solutions. It is currently launching ethicalgames.org , a code of practice and recommendations that transcends the problem of online hatred and addresses the ethical dilemmas of the industry.The hatred of the rival or their speech against us
In online games, the confrontation between rival teams makes the rhetoric of “them against us” prevail, that friendships are established between team members and enmity with the rival. Video games like Fornite , Overwatch or League of Legends base their game mechanics on violence against the enemy. And this sometimes moves to the chat window.

Social networks do not establish a tangible distinction, a story of confrontation; but users end up creating it naturally, grouping around political ideas, or positions on current issues. In the end, the story of them against us is established and antisocial behaviors flourish in this way among those who think differently. It is in this frame of mind that many of the antisocial behaviors emerge. This is perhaps the aspect that videogames social networks should least copy. However, it is the one that users have best known how to replicate. Although fortunately he is not the only one.

In 2018, the team of researchers from the game Overwatch, led by researcher Natasha Miller, decided to implement an award system to enhance teamwork. Miller claimed at the time that toxic behavior online occurred due to the lack of social consequences. “It is a difference between the physical and online communities,” she said in a press release. “If you are consistently late and only do the bare minimum at work, you will not be promoted. You have to work hard to get a raise. ” The same should happen in the online environment. The increase, in her game, consisted of treasure chests and other prizes; hard work, prosocial behavior. And this, it must be said, increased by 40% thanks to its award system. The idea is not only to punish negative behavior but to reward positive behavior. And this, the experts insist,
More than 99% of the content and conversations on Twitter are positive, according to data from the platform itself. The same could be said of video games. “In both worlds we tend to create meaningful social exchanges, to be creative and to seek new ways of connecting with others,” reflects Celia Holdent. Hate speech comes to intoxicate this ecosystem. How we deal with it will determine the future environment of our online entertainment.

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