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