‘This isn’t so much about blame’ – Rep. wants transparency from online gaming industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A recent report revealed a rise in hate in online gaming and Capitol Hill is asking for gaming companies to respond. Lawmakers are pushing for more transparency from the industry, who they say is failing to address the rising extremism on their platforms.


Jonathan Smith fell in love with gaming as a kid, but he says, what players say inside the game isn’t always inclusive.

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“The ‘n-word’ or ‘your mom’s a “b,”’” Smith recalled people saying to him.

Now, this Anti-Defamation League report found more than three out of five young people experienced harassment in online multi-player games.

“I’ve heard from a number of parents across Massachusetts and even from other states, who are seriously concerned,” Rep. Lori Trahan (D) Massachusetts, said.

We told you Congresswoman Trahan reached out to fourteen gaming companies to find out what they’re doing to combat these trends.

Here are the results she shared with us:

  • Nine out of the fourteen did not mention policies or actions they use to assess and lessen extremist content.
  • Seven of them didn’t describe how they engage with at-risk communities
  • Eight of them either don’t have or didn’t describe reporting about the spread of this kind of content in their games.

“We wanted to make sure that these platforms are safe,” Trahan said. “We want to make sure that the positive effects of gaming, of which there are many, are being uplifted for games.”

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We reached out to the Entertainment Software Association, which is the industry’s lobbying group. A spokesperson described clear codes of conduct and tools to protect users from harmful online activity.

She wrote us they “go to great lengths to ensure that our player communities can enjoy games in a positive, safe and inclusive environment.”

Trahan said she is hoping to work in partnership with those companies.

“This isn’t so much about blame,” she added. “These are hard things to monitor. These are hard things to stop and so you want to have transparency measures, so that we understand the breadth of the problem.”

The Congresswoman plans to follow up soon with some concrete next steps on the legislative front.


“As a leader in the entertainment industry, we strive to create fun and engaging experiences for all players and go to great lengths to ensure that our player communities can enjoy games in a positive, safe and inclusive environment. We do not tolerate actions by anyone seeking to use our games as a platform to propagate hateful or threatening messages.

“Our industry has clear codes of conduct prohibiting harmful behaviors, such as hate speech, harassment or calls for violence, with serious penalties, including account termination and law enforcement referrals.

“Notably, our industry implements various tools to curb bad actors. We employ the use of advanced technologies, expert human moderators, privacy settings, tools that empower parents and players to manage gameplay, and mechanisms for players to report disruptive content and behavior when they see or experience it – each of which contributes to creating and promoting safer, positive experiences for all players.

“We are continually listening and learning to improve our processes and policies. We remain steadfast in our commitment to create spaces that are positive and welcoming of everyone.”

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