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. This isn’t about one size fits all! 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!
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.
We see a future where games are free of hate and harassment, and players can get back to simply enjoying great games together. Games, however, can be disrupted in many different ways including misaligned goals, acting out frustrations, cheating, etc. For example, sometimes different expectations can arise about how a game should go among the same team, such as one player expecting a casual experience, while another expects an intense competition. This can lead to understandable frustration.
We can also 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 get frustrated. We can also help by looking for ways to lessen unnecessary friction through design. Or help players development better resilience when things get tough. Because let’s face it, we all get frustrated sometimes.
Ultimately, we want players to have awesome experiences together in all our games.
“Toxicity” is an ambiguous term: it’s OK casually (we all use it from time to time), but ultimately it doesn’t help us actually 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 malice), sometimes they’re completely our fault as developers because of game design or mismatched players, and sometimes it’s a player behaving inappropriately or abusively.
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. And if that’s not the case, then we need to do better.
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 face-to-face communication, and all the pressures that can come along with games sometimes. 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. Playing together should enhance the game, not feel like a burden.
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.
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; hate 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 we should always be thoughtful about who’s in our games with us.
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 recognize 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. And in the case of extreme harassment, we want to help game companies support and protect gamers.
All of us are passionate about getting folks together to have the best possible experiences, while sharing our love of the games we play.
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.
Additionally, if we dismiss the problem with “just mute” we’re ignoring that communication is often a fundamental part of gameplay or teamwork, which means muting undermines that experience. Asking someone being harassed to mute unfairly punishes them, and often after damage has been done.
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.