What is this group about?
Our goal is to share learnings for encouraging fair play and healthy communities to improve the quality of games. We focus on the productive (what works best to encourage team play and positive social interactions), in addition to understanding disruptive and harassing behaviour in games.
We can work to better understand the diverse needs of players and how to deliver the best possible experiences in our games. We can challenge how we’ve always done things. We’re not going to be perfect at this, but we think we can do better by working together!
What’s the problem?
There are many ways to play, many perspectives on games, and many definitions of “good”. Part of what makes online games so great is playing with other people! Today, however, players are overwhelmingly telling us that they’re frustrated by how often games are disrupted, for example by in-fighting on the same teams, or by harassment and hate.
Can you give some examples of what problems you’re tackling?
Games can be disrupted in many ways through gameplay, exploits, cheating, misaligned goals, harassment, etc. For example, sometimes different expectations arise about how the match should go, such as one player expecting a casual match, while another expects an intense competition. Sometimes it’s the frustration that games can cause.
We can help find better ways to match players together who have the same goals, which improves the match and reduces the chance that you’re going to have a bad time.
We can also help by looking for ways to lessen unnecessary friction through design. And there are many more examples.
We want people to enjoy playing our games, so we are also as much (if not more!) about encouraging positive play as we are about discouraging negative interactions.
Why aren’t you calling this “toxicity”?
“Toxicity” is an ambiguous term: it’s OK casually (we’ll use it from time to time), but it doesn’t help us accurately address the problem, which is that players feel their games are disrupted by other players too often. Sometimes those disruptions come about innocently (i.e. not “toxic” or with no ill-intent), sometimes they’re completely our fault because of game design or mismatched players, and sometimes it’s a player behaving way over the line, etc.
We find that “disruptive behaviour” better represents what we’re focusing on, without being too heavy-handed about individual expression or unfairly lumping players together. We want you to feel that you’re playing the matches you want to play, free of disruption.
Is this all about making everyone nice on the internet?
No. For the most part, there’s plenty room to still be ourselves, and that includes banter and trash talk where and when appropriate. What we say to our friends will impact total strangers differently, particularly with the distance, lack of human signals, and pressures that can come along with communication in games. We hope to make interactions between players more productive not just through a better understanding of human nature, but also through game design, level design, matchmaking, and more.
Is the goal to create a universal code of conduct?
No. Games, communities, and individuals are all very diverse, and one blanket policy can’t cover everything without harming games in general. We don’t want to dictate how games should be played. Some games work better with cohesive, well-oiled teams, some games work better with a bit more chaos. How each member chooses to apply our resources or learnings is up to them.
What about hate and hate speech?
We’re not OK with hate. Ever. Players don’t have to like one another, but we all agree that a base level of respect is needed in games. Hate is not the same as frustration or banter; it is cruel and unnecessary. That doesn’t mean that trash talk is automatically out, either -- each game will be different and will depend on the audience.
But I’m just playing with my friends!
For the most part, we don’t want to change how you play games with your friends, we want to make sure that games with strangers are just as fun.
Is there really a problem?
Across the industry there is data showing a significant majority of players are unhappy with the amount of harassment and disruptive behaviour in games. We also understand that some folks are happy with how games are today. There’s no easy answer here. Part of our mission is to respect and understand diverse opinions and we know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is a quest to discover what it means to play online together and how we can continue to evolve games into a space where everyone feels welcome, but without reducing games down to “the one right way to play” (which would suck!).
We want to understand games from a diverse perspective while leaving room for self expression and being yourself with your friends. In the case of extreme harassment, we will take steps to protect gamers. All of us are passionate about getting folks together to have the best possible experiences.
Why do we need this? Can’t people just mute?
We aren’t just talking about how people chat with each other in games. Rather, we value designing games and features from the ground up with the total player experience in mind. We consider things such as fundamental game mechanics, matchmaking, narrative, level design, audience, etc. Not just communication.
In the case of communication, however, if we dismiss the problem with “just mute” we’re ignoring that communication is often a fundamental part of gameplay or teamwork. “Just mute” also puts the requirement to act on the person being harassed, after the damage has already been done.
What about privacy? Will you be sharing individual player data?
Absolutely not. This group is about understanding the diverse ways players engage with our games and how to address that behaviour when it’s disruptive. Under no circumstances will we be sharing individual player data. Player privacy is extremely important to all of us. What we are sharing are design practices, lessons learned, and trends.
Anything else? Questions, concerns, thoughts?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll respond to you as soon as we can (it may time some time as email volume can be high).