Gamers name themselves after terrorists. Women, and gamers who are not white, find themselves on the receiving end of verbal abuse; many gamers experience discrimination, hate speech, and violence. What action can we take when boundaries are crossed?
The esports player foundation is the experienced partner at Deutsche Telekom’s side in the battle against hate speech, one that can bring to the world of esports 50 years’ experience in nurturing Olympic talent. With a number of initiatives, the two partners are aiming to establish democratic rules for gaming.
The esports player foundation is committed to esports and has a clear mission: to provide esports devotees with responsible and future-oriented support. The foundation enables talented young individuals to live their dream of a professional career in esports. At the same time, it teaches them to become responsible role models for millions of other gamers.
Whereas, in the analog world of amateur sports, people are inculcated with the values and standards of fair play from an early age, esports are generally played at home in a very isolated environment. The online world lacks individuals, like coaches, who exercise a control function, provide guidance, and teach players to show each other respect. At the start of every soccer or hockey match – indeed, before boxers come to blows – the opponents shake hands and, after their match or bout is over, take their leave with mutual respect. No such established rules exist as yet in the esports arena. According to Jörg Adami, managing director of the esports player foundation, the organization would like to create and promote routines and modes of behavior in which recognition and respect play a role.
A non-profit institution, the esports player foundation helps young talents and esports pros to make the most of their potential. In return, the esports players function as role models for millions of other gamers. They embody sporting values like fair play, make a stand against toxicity, and teach other gamers the importance of values for sporting success.
Together with Deutsche Telekom, the esports player foundation also wants to provide hobby gamers with the tools to oppose hate speech and discrimination on their online platforms.
Making a stand against hate speech and insults
Hate speech and threats are not the same as freedom of speech, nor are they a form of artistic expression. The most important thing is not to look the other way, but to respond. Every user should be able to recognize when someone has gone too far. Many gamers have no feeling for when something is no longer a joke. “Gamers first need a wake-up call. In most cases, they are not aware of what is happening online. We want to raise their awareness so that they don’t simply brush over hate speech in the gaming environment,” says Evangelos Papathanassiou, one of the organization’s founders.
That’s why Deutsche Telekom is launching a “speak up” campaign this year together with the esports player foundation. The campaign will provide industry protagonists and role models with a platform to express their disdain for all forms of hatred in the gaming world.
Specifically, in short video clips, esports professionals will clearly underscore the unacceptability of the many forms of hate speech current in online gaming. Some themselves have been victims of hate speech, and they relate their own experiences and encourage hobby players not to put up with this sort of behavior any longer. The advantage of the campaign is that gamers align themselves familiar role models, who have the honesty and street cred needed to get the problem across.
Working together to increase awareness of hate in gaming, Deutsche Telekom and the esports player foundation will stage workshops for parents and teachers, and provide teaching materials in the form of video on demand. These activities and resources will provide specific tips about what players can do to keep the fun in gaming and how to deal with each other fairly in stressful situations.
And what is the goal of the new partnership? Together, Deutsche Telekom and the esports player foundation want to empower players to take independent action themselves against all forms of violence in the gaming world.
Counterspeech: united against a loud minority
But how can you stand up for principles in the middle of a game when you have only a few seconds to post a comment and don’t want to get drawn into long discussions? If you want to show other users that someone’s behavior unacceptable, you will soon be able to do so using symbols like GIFs and memes. Deutsche Telekom and the esports player foundation are working to transfer their experience with counterspeech on social media platforms like Facebook to the gaming world.
That will enable gamers to post brief but powerful messages during chats. It will send a strong signal against hate speech and set a good example for other players following the chat.
Full information about the esports player foundation and its work is available here.