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The Issue:

In 2022, 71% of American youth under age 18 are playing video games regularly. Video games provide joy, stress relief, inspiration, relaxation, and can teach us how to win and lose with grace. Video games also help us become better problem solvers and collaborators. 83% of gamers play with other people and make new connections through play. But playing video games is not always a positive experience. Thirty percent of young gamers have experienced online bullying, and nearly 70% of gamers say they’ve witnessed or experienced harassment and abuse while playing online. How might we design games that teach our peers how to create positive, safer, and more inclusive online gaming communities?


The Game Design Prompt:

What does positive play look and feel like? Is the space inclusive of difference, and does it celebrate diversity? Are there systems in place when one player causes harm to another? Do players know how to respond? Make a game that shows us your idea of how players interact and collaborate in your version of an inclusive virtual world.


SDG Connection:

We want to live in peaceful and inclusive communities IRL and in the digital spaces where we spend our time. Gaming should feel good and safe! Because this theme is about building positive and safe communities it is most closely related to Sustainable Development Goal #16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. 


Since the pandemic, more people in the US play video games than ever before

21% of gamers are under the age of 18

On average, teens (ages 13-18) spend 69 minutes a day playing video games (computer + console) and 27 minutes playing mobile games

81% of multiplayer gamers experience harassment in some form


Online communities are not exclusive to gaming. If you use social media regularly or participate in a discussion website, you are also part of an online community! On its most basic level, an online community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who use the internet to communicate with each other. These groups can be positive, inclusive places where people can connect, share ideas, and support each other. But they also have the potential to be destructive spaces with issues like cyberbullying, doxing, misinformation, and hate speech.

There’s a lot to navigate in digital environments. Here’s how to understand what an online community is, along with some advice from the experts on what you can do to guide and maintain a healthy one.

In collaboration with Cartoon Network, Raising Good Gamers helped start a campaign focusing on cyberbullying, specifically in the gaming sphere. Here are some of the resources they’ve provided for students and teachers!

Here are ways people are working to change gaming and its communities to be more friendly and welcoming environments for everyone. 

These are some organizations dedicating themselves to advocating for safe online gaming practices and spaces. Take a page out of their playbook! 


Common Sense Education Lesson: Countering Hate Speech Online (21 min)

What You’ll Need:


Show the video (6 min):

Introduce students to the topic by saying: Today we’re going to watch a video that explores what online hate speech is. Then, show the video.


Reflect on the video (5 mins):

Once students have watched the video, have them reflect independently on the questions provided on the handout.


Class Discussion (10 mins):

Have the class share their responses, and see where opinions line up and where they differ. What does this reveal about hate speech? Why does it happen? Who does it affect?

ADL Education Lesson: Don’t Let Hate Ruin the Fun: Youth and Video Games (45-60 mins)


  • Students will learn about people’s experiences with online gaming.
  • Students will reflect on their own experiences, thoughts, and opinions about online gaming.
  • Students will consider possible actions that different constituencies can take to reduce and prevent hate and harassment in online gaming.



  • A large open space (move classroom chairs and desks to the side)
  • Painter’s Tape (5 strips) with the words: Strongly Agree, Agree, Unsure, Disagree, Strongly Disagree written on them (one word per strip)
  • Printed copies of “Hate Is No Game: Harassment and Positive Social Experiences in Online Games 2021″ for each student (pgs. 6-14 here)
  • Printed copies of the Action Ideas Worksheet for each student (pg. 15 here



    1. Information Sharing: Online Games
      1. Begin the lesson by asking, “How many of you play online games?” and ask for a show of hands. Ask a few to share the games they play and then invite a few students to share their responses to the following two questions:
        • What do you love about playing online games with others?
        • What do you dislike about playing online games with others?
      2. Explain to students that based on survey data, among all American adults, 67% play video games and 76% (more than three out of four) of young people under age 18 are gamers. Explain that a 2021 ADL survey revealed that of those people who engage in multiplayer online games, many experience both positive social experiences as well as hate and harassment. This is true for adults and young people under the age of 18. Explain that in this lesson, we will learn more about and discuss the survey data.
    2. Here I Stand Activity: My Experiences with Online Gaming
      1. Explain to students that we will do an activity to explore their experiences and opinions about online games. To do that, they will listen to different statements about online gaming and decide to what extent they agree or disagree with each statement. They will indicate their opinion by positioning themselves along the 5 lines, depending upon how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement.
      2. Select a large open space and indicate the position of an imaginary line with the farthest right point representing a STRONGLY AGREE response and the farthest left point a STRONGLY DISAGREE response. In between, place AGREE, UNSURE, and DISAGREE along the continuum.
      3. Read some or all the statements below—one at a time—requesting students to take some time to decide where they stand along the continuum, move silently to that place, and observe where others choose to stand. Following each statement, after everyone has chosen their spot, have students take a few minutes to talk among themselves about why they chose to position themselves there. Then, have one or two students from each group share aloud their reasons for placing themselves in that spot.
      4. Playing games online is fun and is mostly a positive experience.  
        • You can make friends and learn new things while playing online games.  
        • There is a lot of negativity and hate when you play online games with others.  
        • While playing online games with others, I’ve seen or experienced bias or hate that targets an aspect of my or others’ identity.  
        • Young people usually don’t talk with their parents or family members about online gaming.  
        • If you see hate and harassment in online gaming, you should say or do something about it.
      5. *Alternative: If you think students would be more comfortable and likely to share their thoughts on these questions privately or if you don’t have the necessary space, create a written survey with these questions and have students complete it on their own.
      6. Reconvene the class and engage students in a class discussion by asking the following questions:
        • What was it like to decide where to stand? 
        • How did it feel when most people had the same response as you? How about when most people were standing somewhere else?
        • Did engaging in this activity either clarify or change your opinion about anything? If so, how?
        • Did you ever feel you needed to explain where you chose to stand but didn’t feel you had the opportunity to do so? If so, why did you feel this way?
        • What did you learn from this activity?
    3. Reading Activity:
      1. Distribute a copy of “Hate is No Game: Harassment and Positive Social Experiences in Online Games 2021” excerpt to all students. Provide 15–20 minutes to read it silently or read aloud together with students taking turns reading.
      2. After reading, engage students in a discussion by asking some or all the following questions:
        • What are some of the big ideas discussed in this report?
        • What thoughts and feelings came to mind as you were reading it? 
        • What information surprised you? 
        • What information did not surprise you?  
        • What challenged your previous thinking?  
        • Did any of the data resonate with your own experiences with online games? Please explain.  
        • Why do you think there’s so much hate in digital spaces, including online games?  
        • What would you do, or have you done, if you experience or witness hate/harassment in an online game? 
        •  What do you think can be done to reduce or prevent hate and harassment in online games?  
        • What additional questions do you have—what more do you want to know?
    4. Action Ideas:
      1. Explain to students that knowing what they do now about online gaming and the pervasiveness of hate and harassment, they are going to take on different roles, think together in groups about addressing the problem, and come up with ideas for taking action. You can explain that one effect of identity-based hate and harassment in online games is to keep marginalized people out of online spaces and to claim gaming as a space that’s mainly white and male.
      2. Divide students into five small groups based on these constituency groups: (1) Individual Game Players, (2) Schools, (3) Game Companies, (4) Elected Officials, and (5) Advocacy and Non-profit Organizations.
      3. Distribute a copy of the Action Ideas Worksheet to each student. Explain to students that they are going to consider what their constituent group can do to address hate and harassment in online gaming, especially among young people. They will develop ideas based on the role and perspective of that constituent group. Provide an example such as “gaming companies can have better strategies for monitoring hate and harassment.”
      4. Have each group use the Action Ideas Worksheet to identify tools and resources their group has, propose 4– 5 specific action ideas, and share how their group will get the word out about what they propose. Provide 10– 15 minutes to have the groups work on their action ideas and assign for homework if more time is needed.
      5. Have each small group share their ideas with the whole class.