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About the Fair Play Alliance

The Fair Play Alliance is a cross-industry initiative spanning over 90 gaming companies whose mission is to share research and best practices that drive lasting change in fostering fair play in online games.

Mission Statement

The Fair Play Alliance is a coalition of gaming professionals and companies committed to developing quality games. We provide a forum for gaming professionals and companies to work together to develop and share best practices in encouraging healthy communities and awesome player interactions in online gaming.

FAQ

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 info@fairplayalliance.org and we’ll respond to you as soon as we can (it may time some time as email volume can be high).

Events

The Fair Play Alliance summit returns to GDC

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

This year at GDC we're excited to host the Fair Play Alliance Summit, an all-day summit focusing on how we as developers can help games become a space free of abuse and discrimination, while supporting awesome player interactions through design. Industry leaders and researchers from around the world will share best practices, case studies, and answer questions through a series of lightning talks and panels.

The summit is open to all expo pass holders.

  • Fair Play Alliance Keynote
    Speaker and description currently TBD
  • Impact of Social Systems and Game Design on Player Interactions
    This talk is intended to dispel some common myths around player behavior and motivations to be disruptive in games and provide alternative theories as to the player motivations. The talk is comprised of learning from several of the companies involved in the FPA including: Blizzard, Riot, Epic, Cold Furnace Studios, Intel, Ubisoft, Kamu, and academic researchers.
  • Reporting Metasystem Design and Penalization Strategy Best Practices
    This talk is intended to examine result-driven penalization and user reporting designs that members of the Fair Play Alliance including Intel, Spirit AI, Riot Games, Tencent Game Security and Two Hat Security have successfully implemented. The talk will include examples that will outline how systems were implemented as well as a look at measurable results from those projects. One underpinning point is to analyze how those best practices can be conducive to reforming player behavior by focusing on providing timely feedback to players, and how penalization practices can be leveraged to produce the desired outcome of fostering productive interactions in games.
  • Dispelling Common Player Behavior Myths
    This talk is intended to dispel some common myths around player behavior and motivations to be disruptive in games and provide alternative theories as to the player motivations. The talk is comprised of learning from several of the companies involved in the FPA including: Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games, Epic Games, Cold Furnace Studios, Intel, Ubisoft, and academic researchers.
  • Basic Tools for Healthy Communities
    This session consists of a set of micro-talks where several Fair Play Alliance member companies share some of their easy-to-implement tools that can make a real and measurable difference in terms of protecting your users as well as your brand.
  • Player Behavior Research Microtalks
    In a world of “live” games, and amidst an ever-expanding number of 3rd party platforms, not only are player populations growing and becoming more diverse, but HOW people play is fundamentally changing. It is critical, then, that game developers have a better understanding of both player motivations and subsequent in-game (and online!) behaviors. This session will feature a handful of speakers from the FPA at the forefront of research in the field of player behavior, in a series of “rapid fire” micro-talks, each lasting no more than six minutes. Come join for an insightful look at how better understanding player behavior ultimately results in a more positive experience for your community.

For more information on the event, the Fair Play Alliance, or for interview requests, please contact info@fairplayalliance.org.

Press attendees

Attendance is free to published members of the press - please contact info@fairplayalliance.org for further information.

Members

Over 90 gaming companies represented, including:

  • 5CA
  • Against Gravity
  • Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
  • BOHEMIA INTERACTIVE a.s.
  • Bot School Inc.
  • CCP Games
  • Cold Furnace Studios
  • Corillian
  • Critical Force Ltd.
  • Daybreak Games
  • devCAT Studio, NEXON
  • Dirtybit
  • Discord Inc.
  • Discourse
  • Dorado Games
  • Electronic Arts
  • En Masse Entertainment
  • Epic Games
  • Facebook
  • Frogmind
  • Green Man Gaming
  • HP
  • Huuuge
  • Intel Corporation
  • Jagex Ltd.
  • Kabam
  • Kamu
  • Kefir
  • Ker-Chunk Games
  • MichaelArts, LLC
  • Mighty Serious
  • Mixer
  • MovieStarPlanet
  • Nano Company Corp.
  • Oculus
  • Owlchemy Labs
  • Phoenix Labs
  • Playful Corp.
  • Playrix
  • Radial Games
  • Riot Games
  • Roblox Corporation
  • Rovio Entertainment Corp.
  • Samurai Labs
  • Silver Creek Entertainment
  • SlapShot Games
  • Space Ape Games
  • Spectrum Labs
  • Spirit AI, Ltd.
  • Supercell
  • TabTale
  • Tencent Game Security
  • Three Gates AB
  • Trion Worlds
  • Twitch
  • Two Hat
  • Ubisoft
  • Unity
  • Vanilla Forums
  • Wargaming.net
  • Wellbia.com
  • WildWorks
  • Women in Games WIGJ
  • WorldGaming Network LP

Joining the Fair Play Alliance

Any company in the gaming industry can join, however big or small. Your studio can be an active member without being publicly disclosed in any of our communications; we respect your desire to be as vocal or as quiet as you would like to be. If you’re a studio with lessons to share, or just want to join the quest to bring better experiences to players worldwide, please reach out.

Note that we are a professional group that is focused on creating new and better experiences for players. As such, the ability to be candid with the assumption of privacy and security is a major factor in our membership decisions. We are not interested in sales pitches, nor will we violate player privacy. For this reason, we hesitate to include members of the general public, gaming groups, or vendors, no matter how much they support our mission. The best way you can help is by spreading the word!

That being said, players are already a huge part: Within our companies we do continuous and extensive player testing and communications, and we’re always trying to improve how we listen to the communities that play our games (or want to!). This group was formed in large part because players have been overwhelmingly telling us they would like our help in improving the games they’re playing. Please continue to share your feedback with developers directly -- we’re listening!

We’re also consulting with a host of experts from many fields. If you are a professional or an academic outside the industry with relevant knowledge or experience that we could benefit from, we would love to consult with you as an outside expert. Get in touch!

Sign up to become a member of the Fair Play Alliance.

Contact

The Fair Play Alliance is passionate about games and players, and how we can improve together as an industry. Tell us how we can help, or get in touch with us at info@fairplayalliance.org.

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