Phil Spencer Knows How Toxic Online Behavior Is

Head of Brand at Xbox, Phil Spencer published an opinion piece on Xbox Wire about the toxicity that is synonymous with online gaming. In his article, Spencer laid out a series of measures to help combat the negativity associated with online gaming. Earlier this month, Xbox updated their Community Standards page with acceptable trash talk.

“We get it—gaming can be competitive and interactions with other players can get heated. A little trash talk is an expected part of competitive multiplayer action, and that’s not a bad thing. But hate has no place here, and what’s not okay is when that trash talk turns into harassment,” the page continues, “Trash talk includes any lighthearted banter or bragging that focuses on the game at hand and encourages healthy competition. Harassment includes any negative behaviour that’s personalized, disruptive, or likely to make someone feel unwelcome or unsafe. To qualify as harassment, the behaviour doesn’t have to be drawn-out or persistent. Even a single abusive message could harm someone’s experience. Know when to draw the line, when to back off. Know and respect the other player.”

Outlets reported on the new rules and everybody went about their day. Today, with Spencer publishing his piece, the gaming community as a whole needs to read what he says because “gaming is for everyone.”

“We are a 2.6 billion-person strong community of parents playing with our kids, adventurers exploring worlds together, teachers making math wondrous, grandmothers learning about their grandchildren through play, and soldiers connecting with their folks back home,” Spencer said, “Most gamers today are adults; nearly half are women.” Think about the size of the gaming community and how quickly it’s expanded over the last five years. As the community grows, so too does the “toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry, and misogyny.”

Gaming must promote and protect the safety of all – we play in an environment where variables outside of our control leave us uneasy. With things like swatting, harassment, and hate being normal, the sooner we become inclusive to fellow gamers, the more we enjoy our hobby. “Creating community is shared work, and protecting the community is essential work.”

Video games as a platform are now bigger than books, television, movies, and music. Spencer says video games are often touted being filled with “violence or filled exclusively with hate-mongering.” Today, we know that simply isn’t true. The industry is about equality, being equals “regardless of age, education, socioeconomics, race, religion, politics, gender, orientation, ethnicity, nationality, or ability.”

Today, video games are no longer a waste of time but social tools that benefit all ages in different ways.

“When people call video games a waste a time, I point them to the well-documented health and social benefits of gaming. Beyond pure exhilaration, gaming helps children with autism make new friends and seniors with Alzheimer’s improve their memory. Researchers have found that gaming teaches adults leadership, improves decision-making and reduces stress and depression and also teaches kids computational skills and empathy. Gaming is the gateway to these 21st-century skills and to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Just consider: teen girls who play video games are three times more likely to pursue a STEM degree. Among teenagers who play games online with others daily, 74% have made friends online and 37% have made more than five friends online.

This is an issue the industry faces every day. This isn’t going to go away unless all of us work together to make online gaming a safer place for everyone.

Source: Xbox Wire