Surely there’s something not right here? Did something seem odd to you during the game? That’s right, the characters aren’t like the ones we normally see in computer games – strong, muscular heroes and beautiful damsels in distress.
Watch out – autopilot!
Did you know that around 90 percent of all perception and thought processes take place unconsciously – on autopilot, as it were? That’s why we don’t have to think too hard about brushing our teeth or riding a bike. Our brain also automatically makes associations. For example, the word “Italian” makes many people immediately think of pizza or spaghetti. However, caution is required when it comes to unconsciously thinking about other people in a certain way. This can quickly lead to prejudices that then control us just as unconsciously.
But what does all this have to do with computer games? A great deal, as it turns out, because these games have characters that often correspond to the usual clichés, such as a muscular, central European male hero or a beautiful, helpless young white woman. We readily accept these stereotypes in the game – after all, it’s just a game – but we learn through repetition.
Images of what we consider “normal” are thus reinforced in our subconscious and our consciousness is tricked. The values games impart to us have the same effect. They can influence our perceptions of right and wrong and what we find morally acceptable or reprehensible.
Consequently, games could also be the perfect medium for breaking down prejudices and preconceived role models, and for imparting positive and democratic values. After all, avatars enable players to try out various roles, which provides a change of perspective.
According to a survey by the digital association Bitkom, half of all female gamers - and over a third of their male counterparts - would like to see more strong, female main characters in video and computer games. In terms of how different population groups are represented, 29 percent of all players would generally like more diversity in video and computer games.
29 percent of all players would generally like more diversity in video and computer games.
Playing creates a bond
No species plays as intensively as humans. Although a clear play instinct is observed in animals, too, it is particularly strong in humans. Games bring people together – and that includes computer games. Over three billion people worldwide play on computers, games consoles, or smartphones.
They have an average age of 36.4
of gamers are over 50
Learning by playing
People don’t only play for pleasure, though. When playing, we find out about the world, explore our own boundaries, experience challenges, and surpass ourselves. Playing computer games teaches us teamwork and creativity. We learn how to think strategically and deal with complexity, and we take an interest in technology and history. Playing is liberating and relaxing. It provides an outlet for everyday frustrations, stops us getting bored, and enables us to discover new things. Last but not least, playing makes learning easier. In addition to being fun, “serious games” provide us with knowledge about subjects such as history or politics. Examples include learning games developed specifically for school lessons or training courses. There are also games that teach us about the latest social issues, such as climate change.
percent of participants in a study by the Anti-Defamation League in the United States (2019) indicated that they had experienced harassment in online games based on their (ethnic) background, gender, or sexuality, or because they have a disability.
“Gaming – where the fun stops”
As Deutsche Telekom sees it, digital participation also means social participation. As a company that is driving and shaping digitalization, we regard it as our mission to encourage democratic rules on the web. This includes areas where hate, marginalization, and manipulation aren’t necessarily expected – if misanthropic remarks made openly during gaming increasingly push the boundaries of what can be said, for instance. In our #TAKEPART – No hate speech campaign, we are therefore working with our partners to combat hate in gaming, too.
#TAKEPART stories – interactive workshops on gaming
In an interactive workshop entitled “Gaming – where the fun stops” on our #TAKEPART stories site, we explain where hate and marginalization occur in gaming – and how this is related to social divisions. To make our point even clearer, we have incorporated a game with various characters who must face a number of challenges. In addition to this, our #TAKEPART stories offer practical everyday tips that we can all follow if we encounter hate online – while gaming or elsewhere. Opinion leaders targeting older teenagers and adults will find guidelines and materials for workshops on the #TAKEPART stories site. This means no prior expertise is required to address and discuss hate in gaming.
The #TAKEPART stories initiative also highlights a string of other current issues relating to our everyday digital life. Is it possible to learn online civil courage, for example, and how is the way we form opinions influenced by fake news, social bots, and filter bubbles? The materials for all workshops are available in English and German, and in a simplified German language version.
Let’s play it safe!
Parents often worry about their children spending hours in front of the computer playing games. Our subsidiary Hrvatski Telekom has launched the “Let’s play it safe” awareness campaign in Croatia. A free guide tells parents about the positive aspects of online games and provides specific advice on how they can protect their children against the risks.
Giving hate no chance
More and more people are speaking out against the toxic minority that is harming the gaming culture. Here are a number of initiatives that aim to ensure fair play:
For a number of years now, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation has been taking a stand against right-wing media strategies. “Good Gaming – Well Played Democracy” is a joint project with the Modellprojekte e.V. research group that is analyzing how alt-right activists are attempting to fuel misanthropic sentiment on gaming platforms. The project is developing campaigns in collaboration with users.
The “Keinen Pixel den Faschisten” (not a single pixel for fascists) initiative is fighting right-wing groups that use computer games as a communication platform. Websites, media professionals, research collectives, and developer studios involved in gaming are all taking part.
In late 2019, Germany’s games sector launched the “Hier spielt Vielfalt” (diversity at play) initiative. It campaigns for a sector free of prejudice and discrimination that treats everyone with polite respect – regardless of their (ethnic) background, ideology, or lifestyle. Numerous companies, institutions, and gamers have signed the initiative’s joint declaration, including Deutsche Telekom.
Deutsche Telekom’s gaming portfolio
Want to play anywhere, on any device? MagentaGaming offers over 100 games in Germany. They are located in the cloud and can be played on a desktop computer, smartphone, tablet, laptop, or TV at any time, at home or on the move – without the hassle of waiting for them to download. Thanks to StreamOn Gaming, which is included free of charge in many MagentaMobil tariffs, there is no need to worry about data volumes when gaming on the move. Users can set age restrictions in the profiles and protect these with a pin code, so children only have access to games that are appropriate for their age. MagentaGaming is one of the few gaming platforms to have been awarded Germany’s youth protection seal of quality.
Supporting e-sport and using top gamers as role models
The professional e-sports scene is growing in Germany, too, with more and more people making a living out of competing in video and computer games. In addition to offering the best possible access to digital sport, we are also keen to encourage responsible behavior, which is why we are a partner of the esports player foundation. This foundation is committed to further developing the e-sports and gaming scene in Germany and to increasing social acceptance. It also assists talented individuals with dual career planning, grants, etc. as they embark on a professional career. In cooperation with Deutsche Telekom, the esports player foundation is looking to teach adolescents and young adults positive values. We are therefore working together to create ways of demonstrating civil courage on gaming platforms and ensuring fair play not only in elite sport, but throughout the gaming and e-sports sector.
In addition to this, we are a partner of SK Gaming, supporting the professional teams of this German e-sports organization. On Deutsche Telekom’s Twitch channel, players on the SK Gaming e-sports team allow people to watch them while they are gaming. The chat during the game is moderated to ensure participants treat one another with respect. Deutsche Telekom staff also offer their support as moderators. Inappropriate comments are deleted and time-outs are sometimes required for individual users. This is proving effective – there’s a great atmosphere on the Twitch channel.
Toxicity in Games
Niklas Eigen, commentator of the game "League of Legends" about the emergence of Toxicity in Games
“Deutsche Telekom is taking a stand against online hate comments – including in the gaming sector. A great deal of communication takes place on gaming platforms. Unfortunately, they are also deliberately misused to spread hate and for rabble-rousing. This contributes to the divisions in our society, and we need to do something about it! We look at where the fun stops.”
For a strong community
What can players themselves do if they are confronted with abuse or hate messages while gaming? Here are a few tips for dealing with hate speech in online games:
Hit the mute button and report the incident
Haters repeatedly cause upset with their provocation and abuse. You don’t have to accept this – mute your chat and silence them. On a large number of platforms, you can also report hate comments.
Stand up for others
If you become aware of someone being abused during a chat, be brave and get involved. If you support someone, you’ll see that others may feel confident enough to follow suit.
Strike the right tone
You should, however, guard against becoming aggressive and abusive yourself. Try to remain level-headed and objective. Don’t get caught up in a heated exchange. Be succinct but clear.
Anonymity – protect yourself and others
In addition to creating an identity for yourself in the gaming world, using a nickname also enables you to protect yourself. Make sure you never reveal too many personal details, such as your real name, your address, or your phone number.