With a generation that is being raised in an era where video games are slowly becoming the next big thing in entertainment, it is also important for us to nurture and provide an enjoyable safe environment for that generation. It seems that’s exactly what Microsoft’s Phil Spencer and Xbox are doing right now.
Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft and Xbox discussed video game toxicity in a blog post published on the Official Microsoft Blog.
“First, gaming is for everyone. No one group ‘owns’ gaming. Instead, whether you’re new to gaming or are a diehard e-sports fan, you are welcome to play and welcome to all the fun and skill-building that comes with gaming. In this way, when everyone can play, the entire world wins,”
Spencer goes on to say:
“Gaming must be a safe environment. Creating community is shared work, and protecting community is essential work, so, we all carry part of the payload of community safety – game industry and gamers alike,” he writes. “Gaming is the gateway to these 21st-century skills and to STEM. Just consider: teen girls who play video games are three times more likely to pursue a STEM degree. Among teenagers who play games online with others daily, 74 percent have made friends online and 37 percent have made more than five friends online.”
We live in a world that is filled with both negativity and positivity at the same time. And so it happens that video games too can experience that negativity, it can be brought by negative emotions players feel. There are tons of examples of players getting banned for what they say in the game. Just last year, an Overwatch player by the name of “Dotashield” was banned for 7 days by Blizzard Entertainment for calling his teammates trash and “fucking terrible”.
“This widespread embrace of gaming and its global communities have turned video games into the world’s leading cultural industry, bigger than movies or music. But it also comes at a time when digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny,” writes Spencer in his blog post.
Oftentimes, it is our collective issues that manifest as toxicity in the gaming world. It is good to know that people like Spencer and platforms like Xbox are doing everything they can to promote equality, tolerance, understanding, comfort, education, sympathy, logic, and love at a time where things like race, creed, religion, skin color, background, ethnicity, nationality, political views, and sexuality are used as targets even in the gaming world.
“Our Xbox Safety team is nicknamed the ‘Defenders of Joy’ because we will defend you in every humanly and technologically possible way, so gaming remains fun,” Spencer says. “We will identify potentials for abuse and misuse on our platform and will fix problems quickly. We are also intent on expanding the composition of our safety team so wide-ranging perspectives can help us identify future safety problems and solutions.”
Microsoft and Xbox have grown to become an institute of videogames as a whole. If they are taking a step to make gaming a better place for the world, I’m sure more companies will follow…