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New safety regulations threaten game companies’ negligence

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GamesBeat Summit 2023: Trust & Safety in the Gaming Industry

The GamesBeat Summit 2023 panel, “How to do trust and safety right before you’re forced to do so,” discussed trust and safety issues, particularly for diverse gamers, and how to ensure a safer gaming community. Moderated by Hank Howie, game industry evangelist at Modulate, the panel included leaders from Take This, Windwalk and Gamma Law. The panel emphasized the importance of establishing a culture of safety in the games industry.

Section 1: A small but violent faction

Panelist Richard Warren, partner at Windwalk, pointed out that moderating a third-party platform is a difficult task, especially a pseudo-anonymous one. Therefore, self-moderation and culture setting are essential in creating a safe gaming community that encourages pro-social behaviour. However, moderator, Eve Crevoshay,Executive Director at Take This, warned of the prevalence and normalization of toxic behaviour in the gaming world, particularly among a small but loud group of gamers who promote misogynistic white supremacist, neo-Nazi, xenophobic, and other harmful ideologies. Such behaviour not only drives away gamers but also affects industry professionals who feel unsafe in toxic gaming environments. Eve Crevoshay further adds that this has led to children in such spaces learning toxic behaviours. She urges industry leaders to address this problem urgently to avoid putting the industry at the risk of financial and moral bankruptcy.

Section 2: What you need to know about upcoming legislation

The California’s Age Appropriate Design Act, which will be effective from July 1, 2023, and EU Digital Safety Act, which came into effect in April 2023, adds new privacy restrictions and rules around information gathering, targeted advertising, and dark patterns. These regulations will affect businesses that take any action that it knows is “materially detrimental” to children’s physical, mental health, or wellbeing. The laws also regulate the type of content that appears on platforms. According to David Hoppe, Managing Partner at Gamma Law, the regulatory landscape is heating up, and deadlines are fast approaching. It is essential to stay compliant on these regulations to avoid substantial fines and to protect children from harmful content and contacts.

Section 3: What game companies can do now

Panelists agree that creating a safe gaming community is a culture around regulation and moderation, whether human or AI, and consequences for harmful behaviour. Building a community that reinforces good behaviour and designing games that resonate with that culture and reduce hateful content is crucial. Developers need to invest their budgets in evaluating the current situation, determining problematic areas and taking action immediately. Game design tools such as Fair Play Alliance’s Disruption and Harms in Online Gaming Framework provide comprehensive guidelines to support player well-being and foster healthier and welcoming gaming spaces around the world.

Conclusion

Creating a safe gaming environment isn’t just good morals, but it is essential for businesses operating in the industry. Failure to ensure safety can lead to financial and operational risks, in addition to severe legal penalties. As the regulatory bodies and law enforcement tighten control around online gaming, businesses should pay more attention to safety issues and cultivate a culture of safety since it is the users who ultimately determine the future of the gaming industry.

FAQs

1. What is the issue of toxic behaviour in the gaming industry?

There is a growing trend in the gaming industry where some gamers promote hateful ideologies and other harmful behaviours such as harassment. This has led to many gamers and industry professionals feeling unsafe in toxic gaming environments.

2. What upcoming legislation impacts the gaming industry?

The California’s Age Appropriate Design Act, which will be effective from July 1, 2023, and EU Digital Safety Act, which came into effect in April 2023, adds new privacy restrictions and rules around information gathering, targeted advertising, and dark patterns. These regulations will affect businesses in the gaming industry that take any action that is “materially detrimental” to children’s physical, mental health, or wellbeing. The laws also regulate the type of content that appears on platforms.

3. How can game developers create a safe gaming community?

Developers must establish a culture of safety that reinforces good behaviour, design games that resonate with that culture and reduce hateful content. Game developers must invest their budgets in evaluating the current situation, determining problematic areas and taking action immediately. Game design tools such as Fair Play Alliance’s Disruption and Harms in Online Gaming Framework provide comprehensive guidelines to support player well-being and foster healthier and welcoming gaming spaces around the world.

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