Gaming For All - Evil Geniuses

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Gaming for AllA study of toxicity and plans for inclusivity

TABLE OF CONTENTSMETHODOLOGY3Methodology5Executive summaryTo better understand and build an action plan toaddress toxicity in the gaming industry, Evil Geniusescollaborated with YouGov, a global market research anddata company. We surveyed 924 people in the UnitedStates who self-identified as either a “moderate gamer”6Nurture vs. nature(plays 7 to 27 hours/week on any device) or a “hardcoregamer” (plays 28 hours/week). We then comparedseveral characteristics of different sub-segments ofthe gaming community to those of the general public,leveraging YouGov’s proprietary Profiles data set.8 What we found10 What we’re doing12Targeting our guilds14 Race and ethnicityTERMINOLOGY16 Gender and sexuality18 Diversity and inclusion20Changing the game22 Getting out24 Pursuing careers26 Creating opportunities28Conclusion30About Evil Geniuses / YouGov2Toxic behaviors take many forms, but in order to collectconsistent results, we limited our definition to thefollowing: gender discrimination, racial discrimination,sexual harassment, discrimination based on sexualorientation, bullying, shaming, stalking, and/or threats ofphysical abuse.Identity occurs on a spectrum, especially as it concernsrace, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. For the purposesof this research and whitepaper, all respondents wereclassified according to their own self-identifications,without specific guidance or definitions provided.3

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYGaming outgrew the basement a long time ago.The platforms have evolved and so has the culture. There are billions ofgamers globally, and esports has become a billion-dollar industry. Ourcommunity is increasingly diverse in racial, sexual, and gender identities.And players across this spectrum have incredibly powerful experiences:making friends, discovering new interests, and feeling like they belong.But we haven’t left all the dark places behind. Toxic behaviors like bullying,shaming, and discriminatory language still pervade our industry. Somegamers think it’s getting worse.Our mission at Evil Geniuses is to bring together diverse talent for elitegaming performance. To live that mission, we need to bring to the table ideasthat combat toxicity—perspectives directly from the community, as well asplans to take action.That’s why we partnered with YouGov—a data company with one of theworld’s largest research networks and strong expertise in this industry—toexplore toxic behavior in gaming. From what we learned from this study, wecreated programs to make a difference.Now, we’re sharing what we found and what we’re doing. We hope thishelps fuel the fire of conversations already happening in boardrooms andbedrooms. Because gaming should be a place where anyone can go—for fun,for a career, to belong.We’re not pretending this is the solution. It’s just a start. But together, thisis work we can finish.Nicole LaPointe JamesonCEO, Evil Geniuses5

Chapter 1NURTURE VS.NATUREToxic behavior doesn’t seem to beinherent. Gamers don’t typically startexperiencing toxicity until their teens orlater. And as a group, they’re not naturallyinclined to discriminatory beliefs.

NURTURE VS. NATURENURTURE VS. NATUREWHAT WE FOUNDGAMERS ON DIVERSITYVideo games positively influenceplayers in many ways, from increasingcognitive and emotional functions toenhancing spatial skills. While gamersstart experiencing those benefits froman early age, our data suggest that theydon’t experience toxic behavioruntil later.¹The majority of gamers (62%) startplaying before the age of 12. Butof the gamers we surveyed who’veexperienced toxic behavior, almost 80%didn’t first encounter toxicity until afterthey turned 13.62%Compared to the wider population,gamers show signs of being moreinclusive of genders, sexes, and cultures.Gamers of all ages don’t seem to benaturally inclined to discrimination,either. Compared to the generalpopulation of the United States, gamersexpress opinions that are more openminded and inclusive.When it comes to toxic behavior,it’s something that isn’t necessarilyinherent to our community, but it isgrown here.67%18%12 or younger13 - 1777%8%5%18 - 2425 - 3456%7%64%54%44%35 or olderAge started gaming23%15%12 or younger13 - 17“I support gay marriage”18%18 - 2410%25 - 34Age experienced toxicity9%35 or older“People should accept there aremore than two genders”“I like to surround myself withdiverse cultures and ideas”“This community is actually very supportive of LGBTQ,racial differences and socioeconomic difference. More sothan society as a whole.”– Bisexual, Identifies Male, White81The Benefits of Playing Video Games, American Psychologist, Vol. 69, No. 1, 66-789

Action PlanVS. NATURENURTURENURTURE VS. NATUREWHAT WE’RE DOINGBecause we see a window of time where toxicity is learned, we also see thattime as an opportunity to disrupt toxic behavior. That’s why Evil Geniuses isinvesting in long-term solutions that teach tolerance, respect, and alternativebehaviors that support young gamers and their parents.Empowering ParentsCamps will also educate parents about the teamwork, collaboration, andcommunication skills children learn while gaming. We’ll showcase howembracing a child’s passion can lead them on the path to cultivating a career.We’ll also equip parents with the tools they need to help their kids respondto negative emotions and experiences. In doing so, we aim to help them raiseconfident leaders who know they deserve a place in our community.Youth GamingToxicity PreventionIn spring 2021, Evil Geniuses will launch a seriesof camps to teach young people about esportscompetition and STEM career opportunities.Gamers will learn how to improve their gameplayin titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2.But most importantly, our curriculum will covertoxicity prevention, mental health and wellnesseducation, and social media.Most of the gamers in our study first experiencedtoxicity as teenagers. Whether or not the majority oftoxic behavior is first experienced then or earlier, weneed to help young gamers build the skills to confronttoxicity as early as possible.10Mental Health and WellnessAnecdotal evidence from our survey suggests that toxicity can significantlyimpact the mental health of teammates and peers within our community. Ourresearch, in addition to many previous studies,² confirms that gamers tend tohave higher rates of social anxiety. This made us realize we need to supplementgamers’ existing social habits and help them develop healthy communicationmethods while they’re still young.By teaching the effects toxic actions have on specificgroups, we hope to dissuade young gamers fromadopting bad habits they learn from the community.We believe this will also help them stand up andchallenge bullying when they see it.During these camps, we’ll teach gamers how to manage their emotions andcommunicate with teammates so they can give constructive criticism.2Free to Play? Hate, Harassment, and Positive Social Experience in Online Games 2020, Anti-Defamation League11

Chapter 2TARGETINGOUR GUILDSGamers of all races, genders, andsexual orientations are targetsof toxic actions. But marginalizedgroups within the communityexperience the most toxic behavior.

ActionANDRACEPlanETHNICITYRACE AND ETHNICITYWHAT WE FOUNDTYPES OF TOXICITY EXPERIENCEDShaming and toxicity are prevalent ingaming. And the majority of gamerswe surveyed (54%) have been thetarget of some form of toxicity in thelast 12 months. But, unsurprisinglyand unfortunately, gamers who selfidentify as part of minority groups inthe United States experienced higherrates of toxic behavior.Hispanic gamers encountered themost toxic behavior directed at themoverall. About two-thirds (66%)experienced some form of toxicitywithin the last year. However,when broken down by types ofdiscriminatory behavior, specificgroups experienced more toxicitycompared to others.Asian gamers experienced themost racial (43%) and gender (29%)discrimination. Hispanic gamersexperience the most threats ofphysical abuse (34%) and stalking(20%). White gamers, despiteencountering the least amountof toxic behavior overall, reportexperiencing significantly higherlevels of general bullying (51%)than other groups.Toxicity Experienced by RaceHispanicAsianBlackWhiteThreats of Physical Abuse34%13%22%22%Bullying33%36%30%51%Racial r Discrimination26%29%20%23%Sexual Orientation Discrimination22%23%18%20%Sexual Harassment22%16%12%22%Stalking20%17%14%13%in Last 12 Months*80%70%60%50%“Games can get racially charged that’s oneof the main reasons I don’t use voice chat inthe online games I play.”40%30%20%10%Asian0%White14BlackHispanic– Heterosexual, Identifies Female, BlackAsian*Participants self-identified within these categories15

GENDER AND SEXUALITYWHAT WE FOUNDGENDER AND SEXUALITYWho experiences genderdiscrimination?As with race and ethnicity, shamingand toxicity impacts gamers of allgenders and sexual orientations. Butthose who identify as women and/orLGBTQIA experience more actsof discrimination.LGBTQIA FemaleHeterosexualNearly half (44%) of womengamers report experiencing genderdiscrimination in the last year,compared to 16% of men. And manyof the women we surveyed said theyregularly took actions to disguisetheir identities—whether changingtheir profiles and characters toappear more neutral or masculine, orabandoning voice communication.Disturbingly, almost all (92%) ofthe trans gamers we surveyedwere targets of sexual harassmentand discrimination in the last year.And LGBTQIA gamers reportexperiencing more sexual harassmentand discrimination compared tocis-gendered heterosexuals (59%compared to 53%).16Who experiences sexual harassment?*Male*Participants self-identified within these categories44%16%of female gamers reportexperiencing gender discriminationof male gamers report experiencinggender discriminationA quarter of women surveyedsay they often disguise theirgender when they game.92%of trans gamersexperience toxicity.“As someone with anidentifiably female voice andname, [harassment] is oneof the reasons I refrain fromplaying online games.”“Queer people are alwaysfetishized. Toxic behaviorin the gaming communitykeeps us as marginalizedas we are in public.”- Bisexual, Identifies Female, White- LGBTQI (Unspecified), Identifies Female, White17

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIONWHAT WE’RE DOINGTo fix gender inequity in our ecosystem,we’re launching a series of summitsfocused on making gaming morediverse and inclusive.Diversity and Inclusion SummitsYoung Women in Technology and GamingHealth and WellnessEquity in Gaming and EsportsWe advocate for the gaming community to be adiverse collective of bold characters who feel likethey belong. To educate and empower gamers,we’re launching a series of summits to promoteequity in gaming, starting in spring 2021.The goal? Inspire young girls to embrace their passionfor gaming, by seeing and hearing from women whowork in all sectors of our industry.The goal? Equip all gamers with techniques to copewith social anxiety and manage emotions duringcompetition, so they possess more productive ways tocommunicate with the community.The goal? Empower gamers by giving them thestage to speak about their experiences. Andhelp them demonstrate their passions and skillsso they can create games that better morerepresent our community.1819

Chapter 3Changingthe gameGamers want to feel like they belong.Toxic behavior marginalizes the diverseperspectives our industry needs most,and it keeps gamers from engagingpersonally and professionally.

GETTING OUTGETTING OUTWHAT WE FOUNDLeaving by gender and sexuality *Permanently or temporarily.Personally or professionally. Toxicexperiences contribute to playersleaving the games industry behind.More than half (51%) of gamers wesurveyed either quit or consideredquitting games because of toxicbehavior. While the most commonresponse was to temporarily stopplaying a specific game (19%), 13%have temporarily or permanently quitvideo games overall.Unsurprisingly, the groups that aremost heavily targeted are the mostlikely to leave. Of the racial, gender,and sexual identities we’ve previouslydiscussed, gamers who identify asLGBTQIA (54%), women (51%), andHispanic (60%) are the most likely toleave/consider leaving a gameor gaming.60%experience anxiety about their dailylife (vs. 52% of general public)72%believe the things that make themunique make them beautiful(vs. 66% of general public)56%readily express their feelings(vs. 47% of general public)LGBTQIA %60%70%80% Either left or considered leaving*Participants self-identified within these categoriesLeaving by race and ethnicity *Hispanic“[The] lack of ability to deal with psychological damage hascaused me distress in the past. I am still not sure if I amable to deal with it or recover. I try.”– Bisexual, Identifies Female, Asian2260%Black53%White48%Asian45%0%10%20% Either left or considered leaving*Participants self-identified within these categories30%40%50%60%23

PURSUING CAREERSPURSUING CAREERSWHAT WE FOUNDWHAT WE FOUNDJust having a personal experiencewith toxicity isn’t enough todiscourage gamers from pursuing acareer in the industry. In fact, there’svery little in our data to suggestthat it does. But when combinedwith a lack of response—from fellowgamers and from the industry—toxicity leads gamers to feeldetached from the community, andthey’re less likely to pursuecareer opportunities. Of those whofeel like they belong, only a third(34%) said that they would definitelynot pursue a career. For gamers whofeel detached, half of them (50%)said they definitely will not pursue acareer. Being excluded from a teamor clan, or lacking friends with whomto play the same game, also leads toa decreased desire to pursue gamingas a career.Of note, gamers who identify asfemale are both less likely tofeel they belong in the gamingcommunity, and in turn also lesslikely to pursue a career in theindustry. Moving forward, promotingfemale players and leaders may helpthem see themselves in a position ofpower in gaming.Gamers hold the entire industryaccountable for addressing toxicity,but they’re split on who they believeowns the most responsibility.Who’s responsible for inclusion?Streamers/Personalities45% of female gamers don’t see themselvesin a career in the video gaming industry.Services or PlatformsVideo Game BroadcastersGamers Who Feel Detached50%Esports Leagues8%Esports Teams/OrganizationsGamers Who Feel They Belong34%Video Game Publishers75%74%73%72%70%68%23%% Will Pursue a Career in Gaming2425

CREATING OPPORTUNITIESCREATING OPPORTUNITIESWHAT WE’RE DOINGRunning an Esports BusinessThe people spoke. More than70% think that responsibility forinclusivity falls on teams. So this ishow we plan to do our part.26During this workshop, we’ll start from square one. Gamers willlearn entrepreneurial skills, get exposure to which skills are mostimpactful in esports, and explore the nuances of building and leadingorganizations big and small.Career SummitsGame DesignIn spring 2021, we’ll launch a series of career summits for aspiring esportsprofessionals to be the change they want to see. During these events,gamers will get the opportunity to network with industry leaders in tech,gaming, and esports while advancing their career trajectory.Our data suggests that gamers who experience toxicity want to seethemselves reflected in games and in the community. This track ofworkshops builds up hard skills attendees need to create games, like coding,multimedia software development, and the narrative structure of gaming.Competition in EsportsTech and InnovationAttendees will get a look inside at how professional esports teamsoperate and practice. They’ll also learn how to be “good sports” anduphold integrity as competitors, so they can negate toxicity at thehighest levels of competition.Young women will get the opportunity to meet women leaders in thetechnology industry. Here, attendees will learn first-hand the skills andexperience they need to innovate and succeed in this fast-paced field.27

CONCLUSIONOur message is one of hope. For ourplayers, our fans, and the gamingcommunity as a whole.For all the bad we need to address—like shaming, bullying, toxiclanguage, and discrimination by race,gender and sexuality—our communityis increasingly diverse and inclusive.And we’re working toward solutions.Will you join us?2829

ABOUT USABOUT USEVIL GENIUSESYOUGOVEvil Geniuses is one of thelargest and most iconic esportsorganizations in the world. And ourmission is to bring together diversetalent for elite gaming performance.YouGov is an internationalresearch data and analytics groupheadquartered in London. Our dataled offering supports and improves awide spectrum of marketing activitiesof a customer-base including mediaowners, brands and media agencies.Founded in 1999, we shaped thehistory of esports with our longrunning legacy. But we value what’sright over what’s typical, which iswhy we consistently raise the bar onhow we treat our players, viewers,and fans. And always will.Learn more at evilgeniuses.ggWe work with some of the world’smost recognized brands. Our lineof products and services includesYouGov BrandIndex, YouGov Profiles,YouGov Omnibus, YouGov CustomResearch, YouGov Crunch andYouGov Direct. With over 9 millionpanelists across 44 countries,YouGov’s market research covers theUK, USA, Europe, the Nordics, theMiddle East, and Asia-Pacific.Our panelists come from all ages,socio-economic groups, and otherdemographic types – allowing us tocreate nationally and internationallyrepresentative online samples ofconsumers.Learn more at yougov.com3031

don't experience toxic behavior until later.¹ The majority of gamers (62%) start playing before the age of 12. But of the gamers we surveyed who've experienced toxic behavior, almost 80% didn't first encounter toxicity until after they turned 13. Gamers of all ages don't seem to be naturally inclined to discrimination, either.

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