Seattle, WA, December 16, 2020. The Fair Play Alliance have teamed up with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Center for Technology and Society to release the Disruption and Harms in Online Gaming Framework, an unprecedented and comprehensive catalogue of the types, causes, and impacts of antisocial behavior and harassment in gaming. The launch is accompanied by the release of a new set of freely available developer best practices to help companies in addressing the issues identified with more to follow in 2021 and beyond.
The Framework is the result of a two-year collaboration across the gaming industry and the FPA’s nearly 200 participating companies, with support from leading experts in civil society and academia specializing in sociology, psychology, humanities and beyond. The ADL were close partners, bringing their long history as global leaders in the fight to eliminate hate and discrimination.
“Video games are an important part of how hundreds of millions of people today socialise, connect, and spend time together,” said Dr. Kimberly Voll, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the FPA. “But that comes with a responsibility on all of us to ensure these spaces are respectful, inclusive, and safe. The Framework helps us do our part as developers by providing a detailed foundation to better understand behaviour patterns, and take a more intentional approach to crafting spaces that promote healthier coexistence and player well being in the first place.”
The Framework better equips developers to identify and address problems quickly and effectively, as well as take a more informed, proactive approach to creating multiplayer experiences that are less susceptible to these issues. The Framework also encourages developers to move away from catch-all terms, promoting instead a shared language that better distinguishes the full spectrum of social and behavioural issues in gaming. Specifically, the many forms such behaviour can take are outlined, including where and how it can arise in the gaming ecosystem, the direct and indirect impacts both on the individual and community and its severity, as well as the underlying causes.
In addition to the compendium, the FPA continues its work to bring actionable resources to the industry with a new series of recommended developer best practices, pulling from leading gaming experts across the industry who specialize in multiplayer design and social connection. Alongside the launch of Framework, the FPA is releasing four, freely available resources for the gaming industry. Additional resources will follow in 2021, focusing on key areas of the Framework and with ongoing input from the industry.
“Online games are digital social platforms. As they grow and become more important communities for people across the world to connect, the gaming industry must learn from the failures of social media to proactively address hate and harassment in game spaces,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Our surveys have shown that harassment is already rampant in 2020, 81 percent of adult players in the US experienced harassment in online games. Adopting this framework would be an important step for the industry—and we hope the first of many.”
The Framework also specifically calls out the need for greater transparency around the frequency and impact of antisocial conduct in games to evaluate the efficacy of ongoing efforts on behalf of players. In particular, the FPA points to the work of the ADL, which through its Hate, Harassment, and Positive Social Experiences in Online Games survey continues to help establish a more collective understanding of the patterns in gaming. The hope is the Framework will allow the gaming industry to unlock further opportunities for collaboration and measurement from industry with the benefit of a shared, industry-wide language.
“This global effort to address hate, harassment and antisocial behavior in online spaces is incredibly important to Riot Games. We’re humbled to join companies across the industry in supporting this important work led by ADL and FPA. Providing funding for the production of The Framework through the Riot Games Social Impact Fund was just one way of tackling this issue. This is part of an ongoing commitment to provide players with the best possible experiences when they enter any online ecosystem,” Jeffrey Burrell, Executive Director of Riot Social Impact Fund.
In addition, several companies pledged to use the Framework as a resource alongside their efforts to foster healthy gaming spaces, including Riot Games, Twitch, Supercell, Amazon Games, Electronic Arts, and Stadia.
“Supercell’s mission is to create games that are played by as many people as possible, enjoyed for years and remembered forever. In order for us to be successful in this mission, players must have confidence in our ability to foster safe and healthy communities. We’re proud to be working with the Fair Play Alliance and will be using the Framework to refine our community guidelines and improve how we deal with disruptive behaviour in our games. The Framework represents a tremendous amount of work on improving the industry’s thinking about what we once too bluntly referred to as “toxic” behaviour.” Nathan Sawatsky, Trust & Safety Lead, Supercell
“Twitch is proud to support the Fair Play Alliance’s mission to combat disruption and harm in gaming. We recently launched our new hateful conduct and harassment policies and will continue to listen to our community and improve our community guidelines to make Twitch, and the broader gaming ecosystem, safer and inclusive for everyone,” Angela Hession, VP of Global Trust & Safety at Twitch.
“We’re committed to creating healthy and safe communities for everyone who plays our games. The Framework is a valuable resource that helps the entire gaming industry set a higher bar for player wellbeing and encourages gaming companies to work collectively to tackle this issue. At Riot Games, we are developing a suite of tools that incorporate the framework, including a self-service tool for inspecting and grading games for how they’ve prepared for disruptive behavior. This is one way of helping early-stage games foster healthy online interactions with players as well as to help later-stage or even post-launch games better understand their role in encouraging healthier and more positive interactions,” Weszt Hart, Head of Player Dynamics at Riot Games.
“At Amazon Games, we share the Fair Play Alliance’s vision of a world where games are free of harassment, discrimination, and abuse,” said Christoph Hartmann, VP, Amazon Games. “We are utilizing the framework to help inform and align how we build games, experiences, and services to create an inclusive, accessible, and safe environment for all.”
“Electronic Arts is committed to making communities, games and experiences feel inclusive, safe, balanced and fair. We believe in the positive power of play where everyone should feel safe and welcomed and any barriers that stand in the way of that need to be removed. We applaud the Fair Play Alliance for bringing the games industry together to create better, more inclusive and positive experiences for players everywhere and for partnering with the Anti-Defamation League on the development of the Disruption and Harms in Gaming Framework,” Rachel Franklin, SVP Positive Play, Electronic Arts
“Games are more than just entertainment. They are a place where players can connect and explore worlds together,” said John Justice, VP of Product at Stadia. “Stadia is committed to ensuring that players have healthy, inclusive, and safe online spaces. By continuing to partner with the Fair Play Alliance, we can proactively address disruptive behavior in games. As a new platform, we have the unique ability to integrate safety by design. We are already using the Framework to foster healthy online interactions and will continue to use it to ground our innovations in safety going forward. No company can address disruptive behavior alone, and we are proud to commit to collaborating with the FPA to ensure gaming is safe and healthy for everyone.”
The FPA will host a convening in summer 2021 to discuss Framework outcomes and impact so far with the goal to share those learnings across the industry.