"This is the last day of our conference in Budapest. It was a blast, a creative and committed community flowing over with examples and good practices."
We posted a response on The Escapist’s forum (as a reply to a topic created about us) that pretty much sums up our feelings and ideas towards the conference. Check it out.
as one of the creators of GameOverHate I wanted to give some comments regarding this conversation.
Our team of volunteers undertook this endeavour because having to “deal with it” is rather pointless, if the options for dealing with it are either excluding the social factor of MMOs or dropping playing with other people. I am also convinced that a reflection on the terms community and MMO would not hurt every now and then. Recent announcements of Youtube and Gamespot are making pretty clear that the frequent outbursts of hate need to be addressed stronger.
What we are facilitating is an sphere of common interests between the gaming community and the campaign against hate speech of Council of Europe (http://nohatespeechmovement.org/). Therefore we are very much emphasising the Human Rights angle of this debate. Defending Free Speech is quite questionable if that results in diminishing the Human Rights of others. Why defend the right to speak freely of any asshat, attacking women or people of colour and others, instead of defending the other people’s right to equality, dignity or participation in cultural life? PvP is more fun without sore losers, co-op without rambling hate, competition is carried to the next level, if you have proper team work.
It is a rather wearily attitude to accept that hate as part of the game instead of contributing to change the community. Accepting that creates dieing communities. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy to say “haters gonna hate” and just shut up until players are forced to quit playing games or worst. It is of little surprise that the most popular MMOs have community management beyond the mute button.
Changes to a bad community do not happen over night. Brian Crecente, co-founder of Polygon pointed out at GameOverHate that it is much harder to introduce changes to the community at a later stage. The thing is, introducing a hate-free community from scratch is much easier. If you let the players rage for a couple of month and then try to change them, it becomes a matter of education; hard on the people that are used to vent and offend. Haters need victims but victims do not need haters. We are seeking to empower players that play inclusively and facilitate a network that is supporting them.
We are not looking to create change from scratch. There is plenty of initiatives out there, most of them USA based and we want to bring the discussion to Europe too; gamers are a global community after all. We had inputs from the European Game Developers Federation, Polygon, CCP Games and the MIT GameLab. We discussed big cases like Feminist Frequency or Gamepot’s GTA V review, as well as smaller cases which you can find all over the internet. We are still looking for input and feedback and will continue to gather cases and information.
This is the last day of our conference in Budapest. It was a blast, a creative and committed community flowing over with examples and good practices. Cherry in top was the social programme with foxes, disco, lots of mustaches and Nightmare 2.0. Greetings to the Escapist community from sunny Budapest and let’s chat some time, unless we are already on mute.
Our new video. Check it out!
«GTFO: A Film About Women in Gaming» will premiere on GameOver Hate
We’re super excited to announce that Shannon Sun-Higginson, the mastermind behind GTFO - A Film About Women in Gaming, gave us permission to premiere the movie at our conference.
The documentary is still in the making but it’s already making waves around the web. The kickstarter project got it’s funding and now the team is finishing shooting the movie and doing the post production.
On a side note, it’s great to notice that a new trend in talking about discrimination in gaming communities exists and that even though there’s always backlash surrounding these projects, there’s also support that guarantees that initiatives like these do get funded and talked about online.
So if you wanna make sure to catch the premier of the movie, apply to the conference. The application period ends on July 31. Haste!
We Want You! (Applications are now open)
Are you part of the online gaming culture and tired of how hateful and violent it can be? Are you a human rights activist who never had the chance to talk seriously about gaming communities? Are you a passionate gamer with a strong interest in human rights? Do you run an online gaming community, write about videogames or develop them and feel curious about this topic?
GameOver Hate is just for you!
Where human rights meet geekdom. Where social awareness meets ponies. Where gamers and activists work together to make gaming communities friendlier and more inclusive.
The application process is now open, apply to the conference by filling this online form. Deadline for applications: 31th July
GameOver Hate is a 6 day (23th-28th September) conference about building better online gaming communities and tackling online hate. Our focus will be on forging a community of gamers/professionals in the gaming industry that do not only understand and recognize hateful behaviors that happen in online gaming spaces but also proactively act to change them.
To achieve this goal we will, of course, play videogames, but more than that we’ll discuss and debate together, listen to and talk with gaming journalists, academics and game developers. We aim to broaden our own world views, grasp the gaming communities at a larger scale and learn and craft as a group.
We’ll work towards the encouragement and development of community based actions, the continuous sharing of good online practices and the creation of a common set of recommendations on the development of better online gaming communities.
- Understand and question the reality of online gaming communities;
- Empower gamers* to understand, recognize and react to online hate;
- Share best-practices on online gaming communities management;
- Create a network of gamers and activists motivated to tackle online hate;
Read our draft programme here.
Community leaders, game journalists, game developers, community manager, online activists, active gamers.
We encourages applicants from all ethnic, cultural, and migrant backgrounds to apply, as well as all socio-economic situations and all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.
We emphasize a participatory approach to learning, utilizing non-formal education methods as promoted by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, as well as other human rights education organisations. This conference will also contain a limited number of formal education sessions from outside resource persons, though the primary approach will be activity-based and participant centered. The conference will be conducted in English.
Costs and practical arrangements:
All accommodation and food will be provided for with the support of the Council of Europe. Travel expenses and visa costs will be reimbursed. Reimbursement will take place during the conference, upon presenting the receipts, tickets, etc, or by bank transfer after the conference if preferred.
A participation fee of 50€ will be deducted from the reimbursement.
Arrivals are expected during the day of September 22, departures on September 29 2013
Participants selection process:
The preparatory team will review all complete applications. Participants will be selected upon the motivation and on how well they meet the criteria of the ideal participant profile above. Successful applicants will be notified by email before 15th August.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at gameoverhate[at]gmail.com or through our facebook page.
Apply now. For honor!
Introducing.. THE TEAM
- Martin, the Course Director, from Germany
Background: I am a political activist with the Young European Federalists and involved with youth and media policy. For over a decade I am active in youth work, especially on the international level. I ran various political campaigns and international exchanges. In the last 4 years I got hooked on net policy and the role young people play in it. I work as a trainer and facilitator and try to bring new and fresh perspectives to the participants through all the fringe stuff you might encounter on the internet.
Games: Pen’n’Paper, board games, video games, I got hooked by them all. In particular video games got me hooked. They have been a part of my live since 1989, when I got my first PC and the game Aldo, some kind of Rip-Off Donkey Kong. I went through the full Lucas Arts assortments of games and died a little inside seeing Monkey Island 3. The core-gamer in me awoke with Everquest, which I played for app. 5 years. Since then I have an undying affinity with MMORPGs. I think Shooters are stupid tho.
Motivation: GameOverHate will be a completely new challenge for me. I never managed to bring together my passion for video games and the activism I do. It is something completely new for the Council of Europe that is hosting us and I hope it will be a genuine opportunity for all the players that will join us. I will give my best to make it an awesome experience for everyone involved.
- Ruxandra, the Educational Advisor, from Romania
Background: My name is Ruxandra and I work as an educational advisor for the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. I am originally from Romania, but currently living and working in the European Youth Centre Budapest. I am particularly involved with human rights education and activism, youth participation and non-formal education. I am also involved in the Youth Department’s No Hate Speech Movement campaign, particularly in developing the educational activities such as the training course for online activists or the course for online volunteers, but as well in supporting the development of European Action Days against hate speech online and the entire campaign at European level.
Motivation: I am looking forward for the study session to bring in young people not that involved in our activities so far and to develop new creative strategies to combat hate speech. My role will be to support the team with educational advice in preparation and development of the programme, just as well as during the event itself, to also link the work in the study session with the work of the Council of Europe and develop with you new actions for the campaingn.
- David, from Portugal
Background: My background is in Economics & Marketing but I currently devote my time to projects related to human rights education. I’m a blogger and through that I’ve created an online collective focused on developing educational resources and planning offline actions to empower and educate the queer community. I’m also developing sessions in schools related to educating for diversity, anti-discrimination and understanding sexuality and gender identity. Recently, I’ve become a moderator for both the global and Portuguese campaigns of the No Hate Speech Movement project ran by the Council of Europe.
Games: Games have been accompanying me all my life ever since those first hand aches from playing too much Super Mario Bros on my first NES. Games challenge me, let me escape, let me imagine different worlds/possibilities and allow me to be part of something epic. I generally play all different types of games but tend to focus on RPGs (Final Fantasy and Mass Effect, CAN I GET AN AMEN?) and on anything weirdly emotional / creative or surprisingly awesome (Katamary Damancy, Shadow of the Collosus, Portal, Braid…). Regarding MMOs my preference is Guild Wars 2 because, you know,… mesmers. <3
Motivation: Why am I excited about this project? Well.. because I know how many smart gamers there are out there; interesting and interested individuals with a social conscience and who are tired of the same old hateful behaviors they see online everyday in their favorite games. Because I’m tired of feeling and witnessing exclusion in a medium whose purpose is to create infinite new possibilities and allow limitless alternative identities. Because I feel like we - as a community - can do a lot better and because I know we will. (:
- Aino, from Finland
Background: I’ve studied Media Studies & Digital Culture, worked in Game Studies and as a freelance journalist. I’m currently preparing my Master’s Thesis on gay content in games, a subject very dear to me, and I plan on graduating at the end of this summer. I also blog in geekgirls.fi, a geek and gaming blog and collective that combines women from different fields to both provide articles, reviews and interviews from female perspective, and to give voice to the brilliant geeky individuals that are often elsewhere silenced. The blog is driven by Geek Girls FI organization that wants to provide discussion of the nature of geekdom, gaming and womanhood. This happens by different events such as cons, gaming seminars, game industry meetings, and by the blog. One of our main goals is also to encourage young girls into gaming, especially game design, which is now seriously lacking women, and to work as mentors to youngsters with geeky interests.
Games: I’ve been an avid gamer for 20 years. My first gaming memories are watching my brother playing Zak McKracken, and playing Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and Legend of Kyrandia myself. Later came Heroes of Might and Magic, Jagged Alliance and eventually Baldur’s Gate. The rest is history. I especially love RPGs and action adventure games. My favorite kind are Bioware’s games, such as Mass Effect (ME2 is awesomesauce) and Dragon Age. I’ve also deeply enjoyed games like Heavy Rain, L.A. Noire, the new Tomb Raider, Uncharted-series, and all the Assassin’s Creeds… Good story and full characters are the most important things to me, and I love being emotionally invested, exploring and getting surprised in positive ways. The very next game on my list is definitely The Last of Us, it simply looks amazing!
Motivation: My motivation towards this project is strong. I’ve always been into human rights and equality, and find the online communities especially heinous at times. I believe there is space to reasonable adult communication, to people to get along, to stop being so hateful, despite of what I see online every day. I want to break the pointless misogyny, homophobia and other hateful behavior into pieces starting with the structures that support them, and bring it all down to what gamers, gaming industry, gaming journalists and other indicators can do to help the situation. I believe there is much potential in gamers to change the gaming world to a friendly, inviting place, where no one is driven away from gaming by someone else’s nasty behavior. We all deserve to fall in love in games just the same, don’t we?
- Stefan, from Macedonia
Background: Member of Youth Educational Forum for 7 years with 3 years of experience in project design, management, monitoring and reporting for national and international donors. Has been a highschool debater and student debater, and competed on national and international championships. Volunteers as a debate coach for high-school and university students in the Karl Popper and British Parliamentary debate formats, and has been the Chief Adjudicator on a National Debate Championship. Has experience in debating, facilitation and moderation.
- Anna, from Russia
Background: From performing statistical analyses, to conducting field research, from interviewing hundreds of people with substance abuse disorders in Russia to becoming an advocate for children who have been sexually abused and neglected, each step of my journey has been built upon the previous one. Two years ago I began working as a psychologist at Creat Studio, a gaming company based in St. Petersburg. From this experience, I learned a lot about how to deliver innovative and cutting-edge games for all major handheld and console platforms. In the spring of 2011 I was an Atlas Corps Fellow and served at the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) in Washington D.C. During my work at ICMEC I recommended multiple Internet safety measures and suggested a model to promote child pornography legislation throughout the Russian-speaking region. While working in the United States I continued consulting with video game developers and designers from Creative Mobile, OU based in Tallinn, Estonia. One of the most exciting experiences I had during my work at Creative Mobile OU was the development of thirteen characters for their new upcoming 3D video game project. My keen interest and professional skills in video game industry and child Internet safety has most recently brought me to work as an online public safety research assistant at Mind Candy, Ltd. headquartered in London. It has been an outstanding experience to work for one of the world’s fastest growing social online gaming companies, operator and publisher of Moshi Monsters, a website targeted at children with over 80 million registered users in 150 territories worldwide.
Motivation: I am really excited about the GameOverHate conference simply because this is a totally new experience for me and I have never done anything like this before, especially with so much responsibility :D. While my career path has converged at the intersection of social justice and gaming technology, I have never applied it to an event on such a grand scale. I think what makes this conference have so much potential is that it attracts both people from the gaming community and industry, with the goal of producing a positive and long lasting societal benefit.
This past week we had our first meeting in Budapest as a team to prepare what is growing to become the GameOverHate conference. Our diverse backgrounds shaped a programme that will introduce the serious issues of online violent behavior in the gaming communities, without compromising our ever-present geeky humor and excitement. (As the meme goes, “don’t worry! we’re from the Internets”)
To achieve this goal we - as gamers, activists, part of the online gaming culture - will play games, discuss and debate together, listen to and talk with journalists, academics and game developers so to, hopefully, broaden our own world views, grasp the gaming communities at a larger scale and learn and craft as a group.
We’ll work towards the encouragement and development of community based actions, the continuous sharing of good online practices and the creation of a common set of recommendations from players on the development of better online gaming communities.
About the Conference
GameOver Hate is a conference to happen at the European Youth Center in Budapest in September, 2013. It aims to discuss the phenomena of Hate-speech in online video games and to bring some answers to the questions:
- What’s the current state of online gaming communities?
- What’s driving hateful behavior in gamers and who are its targets?
- What’s the role of the gaming industry and the gaming community in finghting online hate?
- What shapes a gaming community?
- How can we create and foster more inclusive, diverse and healthier online gaming communities?
We understand that games are a very specific online environment that needs specific conversations, debates and experts and we want to create a meaningful discussion around this topic. We don’t want to only focus on the problem itself and the reasons behind it, but also in trying to find solutions and good case practices around the industry, in different communities and various players experiences.
We want to reach game developers, community managers, video game journalists, online gaming clans and their communities and human rights activists. Games are a topic that reaches more and more people everyday and we feel this is a subject that needs a serious and honest debate.
As gamers, as individuals, as internet users and as activists we’re challenging the gaming community and the gaming industry to help us understand how games can remain fun, challenging and engaging without falling for the online traps of bigotry, hatred and ignorance. Will you join us?
This project is funded by the Council of Europe and falls inside one of its current issues - Combating Online Hate-speech. The original idea behind this conference was to add the gaming spectrum to the current analysis of Online Hate-speech that the Council of Europe is currently promoting through different initiatives. The organizers of this event first met on the Training Course for Online Bloggers and Activists to Combat Online Hate-speech ran by the CoE.
Online Games Today and Why This Is An Important Topic
It’s a fact that video games and the gaming industry are an ever growing presence in the contemporary society. Mainstreaming, branching, evolving and multiplying, games are presence in the life of today’s kids, adolescents and adults alike. As an art form and as entertainment, it’s a massive industry that feeds and interacts with an ever growing target audience.
And even though online gaming might not be something new, its expression and relevance in numbers is now impossible to ignore when trying to analyze online realities. Today, more than 217 million people worldwide play online games. The average age of a gamer is 30 and around 42% of players are women.
Online gamers as now more than ever, and consists of more and more diverse people. Gamers not only just play more, they also interact more with each other. Games are now more complex, requiring more cooperation, fueling more competitiveness and building endless conversations and communities wherever it resides. Voice chat, video chat and instant messaging are daily tools of the online worlds.
THE PROBLEM WITH GAMES TODAY
But as games and its communities grow so must their community management policies. Online games are subject to some of the same challenges other online environments face. Bullying, Hatespeech, “trolling” and the negative spectrum of the human interactions are also on the rise in virtual gaming worlds. Without proper community manager and a concrete focus on building healthy and friendly online gaming communities, games can become extremely toxic environments where sexist, racism, racism and general bigotry flourish without control.
Some examples of this can be seen in the following video produced by the MIT.
THE SOLUTION TO GAMES TODAY
How can we fight this? White Knighting?
Well.. the answer might be that game developers are finally understanding the importance of building inclusive and friendly gaming communities. Community management has become a central part in defining the success of an online game. Fostering diversity and inclusiveness and promoting online respect is task game makers need to put a clear focus on. It is possible for games maintaining their standards for challenges competitiveness and fun while still maintaining friendly and healthy environments for all kinds of players.
It’s also fundamental to understand and deconstruct what exactly in games is fueling the negative behaviors in gamers. Are people just evil/natural born trolls? Is the most game’s inherent sexism and bigotry shaping their gamers reactions? Can players shape games instead? How exaclty can we incorporate feminist, lgbt, etc, inclusive experiences into current online games?
Project Accepted. We are happy as two little ponies!
Just a few days have passed since we got the news, Council of Europe accepted our project proposal! We are going to banish hate speech from video games like a boss.
The general aim of our event will be to facilitate exchange between gamers, developers, community managers, political institutions and game journalists on how to improve game communities and expulse hate speech from them. Our approach is a player’s approach, we will collect experiences, explore and discuss and want to bring the relevant stakeholders to the table. A more inclusive gaming is possible, lets make it happen!