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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.

Heroines wanted

  • 29%

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.

48% are female

Protecting the climate in a game

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.

Are games good or bad?

Harsh words

What can be done?

It appears to be a minority – but a particularly vocal one – that is spoiling other gamers’ fun with their abusive language. What can be done about this? One problem is that the existing legislation applying to online gaming platforms is inadequate. The German Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz – NetzDG), for example, does not as yet apply to these platforms, because the communication function in games is only secondary. There are also loopholes in Germany’s Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz – JuSchG). The legislation is currently under review. Naturally, games providers also have a role to play. Many chats are still inadequately moderated, but promising approaches already exist. In the popular League of Legends game, for example, players can report negative and positive behavior after the game. The con­sequences of inappropriate behavior range from chat restrictions to a permanent ban.

“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.

Magenta Moon

#TAKEPART stories – interactive workshops on gaming

Scroller – the media magazine for children

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:

1“Good Gaming – Well Played Democracy“

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.

2“Keinen Pixel den Faschisten!“

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.

3“Hier spielt Vielfalt”

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

Supporting e-sport and using top gamers as role models

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.” Barbara Costanzo, Deutsche Telekom

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:

1Hit 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.

2Stand 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.

3Strike 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.

4Anonymity – 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.