Fair Play Alliance formed by Blizzard, Epic, Twitch, Xbox to curb noxious behavior in online games

By Stephany Nunneley, Saturday, 24 March 2018 20:01 GMT

Over 30 game developers, publishers and tech companies have banded together to battle toxicity in their communities.

An initiative called the Fair Play Alliance has been formed by high-profile companies such as Blizzard, Epic Games, Twitch, and Xbox.

The goal, according to the coalition’s mission statement, is to “encourage fair play and healthy communities,” in online gaming (thanks, GI.biz).

“We envision a world where games are free of harassment, discrimination, and abuse, and where players can express themselves through play,” reads the statement.

Another goal of the Fair Play Alliance is to raise awareness of player-behavior-related issues, and “share research and best practices that drive lasting change.”

Over 30 gaming companies are represented, including:

  • Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
  • CCPGames
  • Corillian
  • Discord Inc.
  • Epic Games, Inc.
  • Flaregames
  • Huuuge Games
  • Intel Corporation
  • Kabam
  • Kefir
  • Ker-Chunk Games
  • Mixer
  • Owlchemy Labs
  • Playrix
  • Radial Games
  • Riot Games
  • Roblox Corporation
  • Rovio Entertainment Corp.
  • Space Ape Games
  • Spirit AI, Ltd.
  • Supercell
  • Two Hat
  • Twitch
  • Unity Technologies
  • Xbox

More and more companies have been taking a stand against harassment and toxicity over the last few years. As technology has advanced, the ability to shoot one’s mouth off has become as easy as clicking the talk button, or hitting send on Facebook, or Twitter.

And it’s not just other community members who have felt the brunt of hostility for one reason or another online.

Many developers are reluctant to engage in discourse with game communities. The potential result is quite a lot of hostility and harassment, and the possibility of being doxxed. Some developers have even received death threats over something as silly as how it rebooted a game or withdrawing a game from an online store.

Quite a few companies have always been intolerant of toxic behavior. Microsoft has always had a code of conduct for Xbox Live users, and has even gone so far as to ban users with gamer tags such as “thegayergamer” because it was considered sexual in nature.

Blizzard has been putting the hammer down hard on bad behavior of late in Overwatch. It has even started monitoring accounts outside of the game when warranted. It is also doubly intolerant of bad behavior with members of the Overwatch League.

Another example of companies becoming less tolerant of toxic members is Ubisoft.

It recently made improvements to its Rainbow Six Siege chat system, which now bans players who use “racial and homophobic slurs, or hate speech” while they’re playing the game.

League of Legends company Riot Games is also a member of the Fair Play Alliance. One of the ways the company has tried to avoid adding fuel to the already toxic fire in LoL, was to forgo having a voice chat option.

Earlier this week, Riot rolled out in-game voice chat on the live servers, but it’s only available to premade groups.

Twitch also recently updated its guidelines for online behavior when using the streaming service. Along with enforcing a dress code and monitoring an account holder’s behavior while streaming, Twitch will also follow the actions of its streamers and community when not using the platform.

The company said it will look into any reports of toxicity or harassment off-Twitch and on other online platforms.

An all-day Fair Play Alliance Summit was hosted at GDC 2018 this week, during which many speakers discussed how developers can “create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in online games.”

Industry leaders and researchers from around the world shared “best practices, case studies,” and answered questions through a series of talks and panels.

Hopefully, the developers, publishers and tech companies can find a way to encourage their community members not to act like raving jerks.  However, stemming the tide of terrible behavior online is, and will remain, an uphill battle for the foreseeable future.

People have been assholes to each other since the beginning of time, and nothing short of a mass lobotomy will change matters. Best of luck to them, though, and I say that most sincerely.

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