In a game where players can say anything, they continually choose kindness. Lumi Interactive is a venture-backed company that has created an ethical free-to-play game that supports community mental health. In the process, they’ve created a genuinely kind community while scaling their company in line with their core values. Amanda Vandenburg, the Community and Support Senior Associate at Lumi, discusses the supportive working environment that upholds the mental health of employees while maintaining productivity. Learn about Crowdhealing, the evidence-based practice of collective healing, and how Lumi has incorporated this into their free-to-play wellbeing game, Kinder World. Amanda will discuss the building of empathy in players to create a kind community inside and outside the game.
This session looks at the Rigs of Color project and the allies who helped the project more than double the characters of color available to the public. Diversifying the industry and improving representation is not expensive, doesn’t require being up to date on the latest science, nor does it need to be a time suck. It can bring joy. Individual actions can be as impactful as the work of prominent advocacy groups. As companies declare in carefully crafted statements, “Diversity matters; we are doing it.” It is easy to get lost in trying to fix every aspect of the issue.This session looks at what breaking into the industry looks like and what changes can be made to get capable workers who believe in inclusivity.
Can the metaverse serve as a destination for fostering positive self-esteem and supporting mental health? Absolutely, and it’s already happening on Roblox.In this panel discussion, Firdaous El Honsali, global vice president, Dove external communications and sustainability at Unilever, Angelic Vendette, global head of marketing at Alo Yoga, Anat Shperling, CEO and Co-Founder of Toya, and Tami Bhaumik, VP of Civility and Partnerships at
Roblox, discuss ways in which developers and brands can create immersive 3D experiences that connect people with civility and optimism, and present spaces that nurture positive self-esteem and mental health in safe and diverse environments.
With their first-of-its-kind research study released and proven to be delivering extremely valuable data, in this session James Butlin will discuss how FuturLab created his role specifically to work with Oxford University, and how together they implemented a research study into their successful game, PowerWash Simulator.The session will cover all bases of the mental health and wellbeing study of PowerWash Simulator and its players, from conception to launch. It will outline the problems faced, lessons learned and overall experience of working with a research team to implement an ethical and effective study directly into a video game all while the main development team work to release the game out of early access and into cross-platform. James will provide some valuable insight from his experience and describe how other developers could work with research scientists to help further this field of research.
Benn Wiebe (HF Productions), Sarah Sorrell (Safe in our World), Rosie Taylor (Safe in our World), Sky Tunley-Stainton (Safe in our World)
Safe in our World is the mental health charity for the games industry. From developing training around representation and diversification, to contributing on accessibility guidelines, to developing pre-emptive strikes to reduce toxicity, our panellists are deeply engaged in providing tangible options and solutions for creating healthier environments throughout our gaming ecosystem. This session will address the current state of affairs pertaining to mental health among developers, and tackle solutions to nurturing safe spaces for people who make games. Safe In Our World discusses practical ways to support employees’ mental health within games, as well as how Leveling Up Mental Health can improve workplace culture.
Elizabeth Kilmer (Take This!), Jared Kilmer (Game to Grow)
Game design continues to evolve. In recent years, a number of design choices have directly and indirectly supported mental health. This talk will outline the ways in which game design aimed to support player growth doesn’t have to be limited to mental health or educational games. In fact, many of the most applauded and popular games on the market utilize design choices that support a growth mindset in their players. Growth mindset can support player persistence and can lead to real-life growth in academic, professional, and personal contexts. Three games (Hades, Elden Ring, and Destiny 2) will be discussed in-depth to illustrate the design choices present in these games that support growth-mindset and provide an engaging play experience.
Victoria Tran (Innersloth), Jenny Windom (Kepler Interactive), Matthew Taylor (Wholesome Games), James Tillman (Catch and Release, LLC)
It’s no secret there has been a noticeable rise in visibility for “wholesome” gamesgames with non-violent, often inclusive, themes and mechanics. Titles such as Unpacking, A Short Hike, and Ooblets are just some examples of games that have hit a level of popularity, rivaling their more violent counterparts. However, whether it’s been content creators, development, discourse, showcases, events, or exploration of cozy games: What are some of the actual numbers behind this rise, and why does it matter? Using information gathered by the creators of Wholesome Games, this panel explores the viability of wholesome games, their business, impact, and meaning for the industry and beyond.
This session will take survey data about harassment of game developers to build a case for why preventing harassment across games starts with fundamental culture change efforts inside game studios. The session builds on research conducted by Take This and others to create a clear case for true inclusion and diversification inside games studios, and how that can address the fundamental challenges that have become endemic in online games and game communities. In the process, this work will also address harassment in the physical and work environments where both players and game makers work and play.
Cheating has become one of the biggest challenges affecting online games communities negatively. Cheaters are players that have been led astray by a mixture of motivations. To best prevent cheating, we must understand why these players turn to it. In this session, we will break down the primary motivations for why players cheat, how we can address these motivations, and share best practices to keep our communities safe.
Alexander Gee (CEO & Founder, Oterlu), Jane Skullman (Executive Producer, Star Stable Online), Paulina Olsson (Co-Founder & CEO, Peppy Agency)
Learn how to employ specific methods for a data and research driven way to reduce disruptive and unfriendly behaviour in-game. In this talk the presenters walk through a real-life example of how Star Stable Online utilised AI, statistical analysis and research about social and emotional learning to reduce disruptive behaviour on its game platform including it’s game servers & client.
Jane Skullman, Executive Producer from Star Stable Online and Paulina Olsson, Co-Founder and CEO at Peppy Agency will touch on the methodologies and appropriate player-facing messaging you can use to both understand and engage your player base to reinforce positive behaviour.
Alexander Gee, CEO and Founder of Oterlu will describe how you can combine AI and statistical analysis to ensure your messaging gets to the right audience and also measure the effectiveness of your actions.
While as an industry we’ve taken great strides to describe the behaviors that are detrimental to the games we make, we’ve not focused enough on how to identify positive behaviors and how to target them by design. In order to do this, we need a shared language. To help this talk will introduce an in-progress taxonomy that Riot Games has been developing for describing and targeting positive and prosocial behavior.
Karla Reyes (Product Manager, Niantic & Head of Business Development, Code Coven), Deborah Mensah-Bonsu (Founder, Games for Good), Jennifer Estaris (Game Director, Ustwo Games), Lual Mayen (Founder, Junub Games & Founder, Lual Mayen Foundation), Susanna Pollock (President, Games for Change)
With nearly 3 billion gamers globally, game developers have a uniquely immense opportunity and responsibility to catalyse positive social impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the proliferation and consumption of games and compounded global societal and environmental issues to tackle. How can game developers harness the power of our platform to raise awareness about tough topics in sensitive ways and ultimately ignite change? This panel binds a diverse group of individuals aligned in a shared goal: to build a better world through games. Speakers will examine methods and approaches to achieving this goal at an industry, studio, individual and game level. They will delineate altruism vs. performative care and assess the impact of collaboration with industry partners, NGOs, charities, and international organisations. Furthermore, they will explore the potential of game jams, festivals and other programming as an avenue to galvanise industry professionals and the general public to join social movements and contribute to meaningful and lasting change.
Natasha Miller (Senior Research Scientist, Blizzard Entertainment)
This talk will be a general overview of the most predominant Player Dynamics systems in games today. It breaks the systems into 3 categories: systems for punishing bad behavior, systems for encouraging positive behavior, and systems for promoting reformation. For each system, we will go over the definition and/or main parts of the systems, the top pros and cons of the system, give examples of the systems where relevant, and give the impact of the systems if known.
Ensuring positive behaviors on a platform is complicated and nuanced work. It requires a combination of community management, technology for detection/moderation/enforcement, consistent application of policy, as well as tools that support and encourage positive in platform behavior. This cross functional teamwork takes planning, data, and execution. In this session, you will hear from Katie Zigelman, Chief of Staff and Head of Solutions at Spectrum Labs, and how she supports companies in using AI to support companies using data and best practices to remove harmful content and encouraging positive player support.
We use methods from other domains to help inform our approach to detect and provide context for incidents in games. We share examples from financial services, government and intelligence, and professional sports and map them to analogous problems faced by game developers trying to maintain a positive player environment.
Connie Chung (Director of Policy, Trust & Safety, Twitch), Robert Lewington (Senior Director of Safety Operations, Twitch)
Norms for what you can and can’t do are everywhere, whether it’s a conversation in a game lobby or mask rules for a grocery store. If people are interacting, boundaries will eventually be tested. Clear, thoughtful community guidelines provide an opportunity for companies and developers to share expectations and aspirations for their community — figuring out the right lines for your community takes listening and research. This talk discusses strategies for researching and building policies in a way that considers safety and community expression, demonstrating some of the applicable measures and learnings that can be taken from large scale policy initiatives.
Laura Higgins (Director of Community Safety & Digital Civility, Roblox), Robin Hunicke (Co-Founder, Funomena), Anat Shperling (Co-founder & CEO, Toya), Ashley Scott (3D & Environment Artist, Roblox)
In the past year of physical distancing, people have been increasingly turning to the Metaverse to socialize and connect with existing friends and family members, as well as find new communities where they feel like they belong. The need for inclusive content and environments that represent diverse voices and points of views has never been greater. In this conversation, game industry experts and developers from Roblox, Funomena and Toya will discuss the importance of creating content with diverse perspectives, and representation from a global demographic, how to develop a sense of belonging for all users through content creation, and inspire the gaming industry to set new standards for diversity and inclusivity.
Disruptive behavior in games has historically been a post-launch consideration. However, as our understanding of this space has grown, so has the need to focus earlier in development on Player Dynamics design in order to avoid producing systems which inadvertently contribute to player-to-player friction. To help this talk will introduce new tools that Riot Games has been developing for evaluating the negative and positive behavioral potential of existing features and intentionally designing for specific behaviors.
As gaming has rapidly grown over the last few years, cheating has become more widespread. If left unchecked this poses a serious threat to the long term future of gaming as it will put off new gamers, drive current players away, and drive up costs for game security. This session looks at how a new approach, based on data and a better understanding of gaming communities offers a practical solution that puts anti-cheat and community management teams on the front foot, protects the player experience and the brand reputation of the game, and supports financial security for developers and publishers.
Philip Rosedale (CEO, High Fidelity), Anita Sarkeesian (Executive Director, Feminist Frequency), Michael Pappas (CEO, Modulate), Eric Goldberg (Managing Director, Crossover Technologies), Kishonna Gray (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois – Chicago)
Today’s games and virtual worlds give players ever-advancing ways to customize their characters, extending not only to their name and play style but also their personal appearance and voice. These customizations are powerful tools for increasing immersion and giving players a choice over what details of their physical self they’re comfortable revealing, but they also entail potential risks of identity impersonation/theft, cultural toxicity, and diversity loss. A prestigious panel of game developers, technologists, academics and community thinkers will discuss the evolving technologies of self-transformation, and consider strategies for maximizing their positive impact on virtual communities.
Kimberly Voll (Co-Founder, Fair Play Alliance), Natasha Miller (Senior Research Scientist, Blizzard Entertainment), Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Trust & Safety, Two Hat & Co-Founder/Executive Director, Fair Play Alliance)
In late 2020, the Fair Play Alliance launched the Disruption and Harms in Gaming Framework, an unprecedented synthesis of what we know about problematic behaviour in online games today. Created for the industry and pulling together experts from game development as well as researchers from academia and civic society, the Framework seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of what we’re seeing in games today, along with a series of resources (the first of hopefully many) pulling together some of the best practices known today for addressing these issues.
This fireside chat is a 101 intended for developers unfamiliar with the Framework and looking to get started. We’ll cover an overview of the Framework, with a focus on the most important aspects to take away that you can start leveraging right away in your designs and beyond.
Kimberly Voll (Co-Founder, Fair Play Alliance), Natasha Miller (Senior Research Scientist, Blizzard Entertainment), Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Trust & Safety, Two Hat & Co-Founder/Executive Director, Fair Play Alliance)
This fireside chat is a chance to sit down with fellow developers to discuss the Framework—how it’s being used, what we’ve learned in the past six months and what you’d like to see next. What has the Framework sparked for you? Where could it be improved? How can the FPA better support you? The hope is to use this session to put together an impact report and to better understand what to focus on next that would best serve the industry.
Fair Play Summit 2020 Highlights
Due to Covid-19, GDC and the Fair Play Summit were shifted to a combined summer schedule.
Weszt Hart (Head of Player Dynamics, Riot Games) Getting company buy-in for fair play and Player Dynamics can be challenging. Fortunately, we can leverage many lessons and techniques from UX design, a field with a long history of “selling” itself. Weszt Hart from Riot Games will cover what fair play means for game companies; the history of UX and Player Dynamics at Riot; plus tools, models, and approaches that can help design get a seat at the table. The talk will include concrete examples from a number of UX and gaming companies.
Daniel Kelley (Associate Director, ADL’s Center for Technology and Society)
74% of adults in the US experience harassment in online games.65% of adults in the US experience severe harassment, which includes stalking, sexual harassment and physical threats.53% of adults were targeted on the basis on their identity.This data from Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) Center for Technology and Society highlights a real problem with online games as digital social spaces, and the need to address the social nature of online games from a civil rights perspective in order to ensure justice and fair treatment for all people in online games.In this talk, an ADL expert will do a deep dive into this troubling data and discuss how online games as social platforms can learn from the mistakes of traditional social media to fight hate, discrimination, harassment and extremism in online game spaces.
Victoria Tran (Communications Director, Kitfox Games)
Developers tend to know they want “a community”, AKA passionate fans of their game and studio, but neglect considering what kind of belongingness they want from them. And then those who do consider it might decide they want “positive”, “healthy”, and “engaged” communities, which is a great goal, but doesn’t concretely describe what actions to take. How do you get there? Beyond just “having good soft skills”, what structures encourage kindness? What makes a good rule set? How is trust created through faceless communication? Designing kinder communities is more than just about risk management. Its lifetime value will reward you – people will stick around for your future games to come, and recruit others to join. Let’s start the kindness revolution.
Eve Crevoshay (Executive Director, Take This)
Attendees can expect a wide-ranging discussion on mental health in games: the mental health of people who make games, the portrayal of mental illness & mental health care in games, and the research on the impact of games on mental health. We’ll cover online toxicity & harassment, cultural myths in the industry, and current plans to tackle some of the most challenging issues in games. Alex Warwo, Editor of Gamasutra, will be joining this session as moderator.
Kimberly Voll (Co-Founder & Designer/Programmer/Researcher, Stray Bombay Company), Weszt Hart (Head of Player Dynamics, Riot Games)
Over the last 40 years game design has largely focused on the mechanics of the game itself, rather than the complexity of human players, who bring their own needs, expectations, and interpretations into the game. This is especially apparent today with the dominance of online games and players’ increasing social expectations as we struggle to foster healthy player-to-player interactions that bring out the best in our games vs. the worst in our players. To help this talk introduces “Player Dynamics”, a design craft to address how player interactions and motivations create and enhance our in-game and meta-game experiences. Already an established part of Riot Games’ design department and increasingly at other companies, the talk will focus on the how and why, give applied examples, and equip designers with tools and frameworks to intentionally design for healthier player dynamics, whether launching a new title or improving an old one.
Kat Lo (Visiting Researcher, University of California, Irvine), Kate Edwards (CEO, Geogrify), Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Community Trust & Safety, Two Hat), Celia Hodent (Game UX Consultant, Independent)
Beyond the regular (and mostly exaggerated) attacks our industry is getting regarding addiction, loot boxes, or violence, it is important for us to get a clear understanding of our ethical responsibilities as content providers. Discussions around ethics in the game industry are still too rare. Celia Hodent (Game UX Consultant, former director of UX at Epic Games), Kate Edwards (CEO at Geogrify, a consultancy which pioneered content culturalization), Kat Lo (Visiting Researcher at the University of California, Irvine), and Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Community Trust & Safety at Two Hat, and Co-Founder of the Fair Play Alliance), propose to dive into this topic by sharing their experience and perspectives. We will address how design impacts social behavior, how to recognize dark patterns, and how to assess the potential impact of the content we put in our games on players. The idea is to discuss the state of our industry as related to ethics and what we should strive to do better so that we can own the conversation about video games in our society.
Emily Greer (Founder & CEO, Double Loop Games)
Over the last few years, many members of the game development community have come forward with upsetting stories of harassment and abuse, both recent & past. It’s easy to feel helpless, but thoughtful leaders can take many steps, large & small, to help minimize harassment & abuse, increase the likelihood that it will be reported, and handle it effectively when it happens. This talk will examine the patterns and conditions of harassment and give concrete strategies that not only counteract abuse but also make teams more effective, with reduced turnover and higher trust.
Victoria Setian (Senior Producer, Avalanche Studios)
Research shows that ~50% of gamers are women and companies with diverse leadership are more profitable. With only 22% of game developers being female, there’s never been a better time to cultivate change. The session will cover how to increase the female talent pool, nurture our current female developers, and support their growth into leadership roles via research-backed actions and programs. Changing the game starts with how we run our productions and studios. Come and hear how you can shift your development practices with an eye towards the future.
John Hughes (Feel Engineer, thatgamecompany)
The definition of “social” gameplay can be elusive and counterintuitive. What makes some online games so much more socially fulfilling than others? How do you create lasting connections between players in online games? This talk hopes to share some learnings from the development of thatgamecompany’s Social Adventure game, Sky: Children of the Light.
Dave McCarthy (Xbox), Chris Priebe (Two Hat), Jarrod Doherty (Blizzard) When it comes to topics around player behavior, the gaming industry has changed quite a bit in the last few years. These topics are larger than any one individual company, and industry collaboration (like the Fair Play Alliance) is key. The Fair Play Alliance Summit keynote promises a lively discussion around why publishers, game developers, and gaming platforms should consider applying best practices of player behavior and content moderation/online safety approaches as a key element of their design strategies.
Laura Warner (Niantic), Kenny Shores (Riot), Jess Hollmeier (Supercell) 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.
Natasha Miller (Blizzard) 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.
Naomi McArthur (Riot) & Kenny Shores (Riot) Although important, punitive systems are only a small piece of how we can foster healthy player interactions. This segment examines ways to address or redress behaviour patterns and enhance player cohesion through systems and game design, and includes learnings from several companies. Wherever possible we will pull concrete examples from live games to illustrate key points. Topics include best practices for player-to-player interplay and communication (verbal and non verbal) as well as systems that foster stronger social cohesion in game and in the larger playerbase. We will also discuss known and potentially hidden factors for designers to consider when designing new games or assessing live games.
Kimberly Voll (Riot), Jamie Sherman (Intel), Elise Lemaire (Rovio), Chris Norris (Ubisoft) 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.
Jiayin Wang (Tencent), Carlos Figueiredo (Two Hat), Peter Alau (Spirit AI), George Kennedy III (Intel) This talk is intended to examine result-driven penalization and user reporting designs that members of the Fair Play Alliance including Intel, 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.