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Safer Gaming – Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony’s Strategy

Worn Out Gaming
Original Article on Worn Out Gaming.

Hasn’t it been a long time since the start of the console war? Did the big companies start the war and then leave it to us to stoke the flames? Either way, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have joined forces. They released a joint statement committing themselves to create a safer gaming environment for gamers. This may not be on most gamers’ minds, but the online gaming community is a troll breeding ground. Is that truly cause for a three-pronged strategy?

Xbox Wire’s announcement came from Corporate Vice Present of Operations Dave McCarthy. He believes that “gaming is for all people of all ages, including our youngest and most vulnerable players.” This isn’t a recent issue, but it seems the remedy remains a head-scratcher. Though all three are coming together to protect their online players, it will likely be a struggle.

Here is what Dave McCarthy had to say:

“At Xbox, we are aligned with both Nintendo, on behalf of the community of Nintendo Switch players, and PlayStation in our belief that protecting players online requires a multidisciplinary approach – one that combines the benefits of advanced technology, a supportive community, and skilled human oversight. We can accomplish more when we work toward the same goal, and so we will each continue investing in, evolving, and amplifying our approaches to user safety. As we continue this work, we will prioritize protecting the safety of our players, especially those most vulnerable.”

Safer Gaming - Xbox controller
Photo by Alex Escu on Unsplash

The Safer Gaming Principles

The three-pronged strategy they’re adopting is detailed below:

Prevention: Empower players and parents to understand and control gaming experiences.

  • Provide controls that let players customize their gaming experience.  We support parents with the tools and information necessary to create appropriate gaming experiences for their children.
  • Recognize that for safety features to be useful, they must be easy to use. We will promote the availability of our safety tools through our platforms, support channels, services, on our websites and in retail stores to reach more players and parents.
  • Continually inform our parents and players through our codes of conduct, terms of use, and our enforcement practices.
  • Invest in technology to help thwart improper conduct and content before a player is subject to harm.

Partnership: We commit to partnering with the industry, regulators, law enforcement, and our communities to advance user safety.

  • The industry’s commitment to safety is central. We believe that we have an opportunity to collaborate for the benefit of the video game industry and all players to offer a safer gaming experience.
  • Work with industry trade organizations, industry members, regulators, law enforcement, and experts to develop and advance online safety initiatives.
  • Commit to conducting shared research for the benefit of the industry.
  • Believe that hate and harassment or exploitation of younger players in any way have no place in gaming. We partner with our community to promote safe gaming behavior and encourage the use of reporting tools to call out bad actors.
  • Partner with ratings agencies such as the ESRB and PEGI to ensure that our games are rated for the appropriate audience.

Responsibility: We hold ourselves accountable for making our platforms as safe as possible for all players.

  • We make it easy for players to report violations of our code of conduct and, in addition to removing content, we take appropriate enforcement actions for violations, including restricting players from using our services for misconduct.
  • Comply with all local laws and will respond to all lawful requests from law enforcement. We promptly notify law enforcement if we observe unlawful conduct or where we believe a player is at risk of imminent harm.
  • We publish our rules and requirements and we ensure that players who have been reported understand the requirements for continued engagement with our platforms.
Photo by S X R I P T X on Unsplash

So, what do we have to look out for?

This strategy seems a little vague and not outside the realm of guidelines already in place. There is a certain toxicity that comes with competition, but that’s the nature of the game. Thankfully, all signs point to the disruptive trolling that goes too far. How do I know? Well, Xbox published examples of acceptable trash talk in 2019.

  • Get destroyed. Can’t believe you thought you were on my level.
  • That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked.
  • Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. Try again, kid.
  • Cheap win. Come at me when you can actually drive without running cars off the road.
  • That sucked. Get good and then come back when your k/d’s over 1.

Clearly, we see Microsoft is aware that we want to troll each other. The above examples are tame and usually filled with their target words. This pact between companies will raise awareness and target threats of sexual violence, racism, and profanity during multiplayer games. Will they find any measure of success, though? I also wonder if this moderation will cause unintentional bans? We gamers will cross that bridge when they get to it.

For now, I welcome their unity. There’s nothing wrong with wanting everyone to feel welcomed; It’s the execution that can destroy a great idea. Let’s see what happens. I, for one, don’t want to stop receiving entertaining hate messages for my skill, or lack thereof, in Apex Legends.


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