Tools to promote equality prevent harassment in gaming culture
A new guide provides gaming education tools for parents and professionals with the goal of preventing discrimination, harassment and hate speech. By supporting equal participation, we can join forces to create a better gaming culture and safer communities for everyone. The tools and methods are also applicable in education work beyond the world of gaming.
Gaming has become a popular pastime that touches the daily lives of most Finns. It is often a social activity among friends or with strangers online. However, studies have shown that gaming culture includes equality challenges that manifest in the form of stereotyping, hate speech and harassment. People who are not familiar with the gaming world themselves may easily label it in black and white terms as being either “good” or “bad” for children and young people. The issues listed above are not exclusive to gaming culture, but part of broader social phenomena related to equality and self-expression.
The City of Helsinki Youth Services’ Non-Toxic project has tackled the issue of creating safer gaming activities for everyone, and has searched for building materials for more equal gaming education work. As a result of several years of work, on Tuesday 29 August 2023, the project will publish The Beginner’s Guide to Inclusive Gaming Activities for all adults working with young people and digital games. The guide can be downloaded free of charge in Finnish, Swedish and English, also as audiobooks.
Based on the project team’s own experiences and research data, the guide includes tried and tested tools and methods used by various gaming operators to implement more equal gaming activities. The guide’s main focus is on education, the underlying structures of gaming activities, principles for a safer space and communication contents. The tools provided by the guide include, for example, an equality plan, ethical guidelines, liaison officer for harassment activities and the principles for building a safer space. It also gives tips for more successful communication and accessible gaming.
While supporting the use of tools that promote equality in gaming arenas that are relevant and bring joy to the lives of young people, the goal is also to have a preventive effect on negative social phenomena such as discrimination, harassment and hate speech. If a community fails to take an active role in demolishing the barriers for equal participation in gaming activities, it is most likely unknowingly maintaining them. The visible use of tools and operating models that promote equality in itself has a positive impact on the wellbeing of our young people.
The guide is part of the Non-Toxic – Non-Discriminatory Gaming Culture project funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki. The Finnish Electronic Sports Association SEUL ry is acting as the main partner in the project.
Essi Taino, Project Designer, City of Helsinki, Youth Services, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 9 310 39262