The Anti-Defamation League is prioritizing gaming during the global pandemic that has seen thousands die, millions lose their jobs, and the global food supply disrupted.
The ADL has taken aim at the gaming industry, promoting an “inclusive and safe” gaming experience during coronavirus lockdown–around the same time they pledged to to tackle “hate and harassment” in video games.
The ADL begins by writing:
As schools across the U.S. have moved to remote learning as a safety precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many families are set to spend at least the next few weeks at home together. During this time, both young people and their parents may turn to video games and/or livestreaming as a means of entertainment, escapism, stress reduction and as a way to connect with each other, as well as their friends and loved ones. And they should! ADL’s survey of online games from 2019 found that 88 percent of adults who play multiplayer games have positive social experiences in these digital spaces, including making friends (51%), finding community (30%), discovering new interests (32%) and even finding a partner (13%). Games can be used for connecting with others, learning and teaching, and even understanding ourselves better. For instance, this resource shares tips for using 100 different games for learning.
The group then discusses how to navigate through a digital space to enhance one’s gaming experience, free from harassment as, “Seventy four percent of adults reported experiencing harassment in online multiplayer games, and 65 percent reported severe harassment, which includes identity-based discrimination, physical threats, cyberstalking and sustained harassment.”
They continued: “It should be said that these numbers do not reflect the experience of people younger than eighteen since the survey focused on adults ages 18-45.”
Discerning gamers concerned with confronting hate online were given two suggestions to follow:
1. Find each game’s stated rules for behavior and discuss them
Every online multiplayer game has a set of rules that govern what kinds of social behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate in a particular online game space. Ideally, these rules are easy for a player or family member to find and review, though sometimes that is not the case.
And, while advocating being respectful and given examples of cyberbullying and harrassment, the second tip is offered:
2. Watch Pro-Social Game Streamers who model inclusive game-community behavior
There are professional gamers who stream themselves gaming regularly. Many of these gamers are working to build inclusive gaming communities through modeling: showing how they play and being transparent about how they curate their channels. (Our current Belfer fellow, Gabriela Richard, is documenting examples of how these communities help foster better gaming and livestreaming spaces, some of which will be in a forthcoming report.
Following the ADL’s hand in YouTube updating their policy on hate speech, National File reported on the organization’s intentions to address hate in gaming.
The ADL was instrumental in the redrafting of YouTube’s Hate Speech Rules which led to a wave of censorship, effectively rendering some communities on the platform sterile–under the banner of combating hate.
The ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt confirmed the organization’s collusion with the tech titan to “counter hate.”
According to Bounding Into Comics, Greenblatt said: “Online hate and extremism pose a significant threat — weaponizing bigotry against marginalized communities, silencing voices through intimidation and acting as recruiting tools for hateful, fringe groups.”
As Reclaim The Net puts it, “The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has done untold damage for freedom of expression online,” as several YouTubers lost much of their internet livelihood following the updates.
During an interview with ADL’s Center for Technology and Society Assistant Director Daniel Kelley for GamesIndustry.biz, entitled, “Getting the hate out of games,” the ADL singled out gaming industry giant Valve for their lack of responsibility in approaching hate and harassment.
Six years after the antics throughout the legendary “Gamergate,” there appears to be a resurgence of disgruntled gamers battling another culture war–this time, most recently, ‘The Last of Us 2.’
Upset developers reportedly leaked crucial gameplay–depicting female characters as more androgynous to be less offensive to the trans community.
Apart from clamping down on freedom of speech on social media and beyond, the ADL has added several amusing phrases such as “We Wuz Kangz,” “13/52,” and “boogaloo” to their online hate lexicon, which drew abundant laughter at the end of last year.
National File recently reported on a politically provocative video game–where you can play as Trump, Putin, Hitler, Jesus Christ, Boris Johnson, and others with the objective to harm progressives, SJWs, and feminists–which caused some controversy as it managed to secure a sequel. The ADL also vowed to tackle the platform that serves this game–Steam.