Nanny State Game Developer Polices ‘Overwatch’ Players On YouTube And Social Media

Ian Miles Cheong | Contributor

The developers behind one of the world’s most popular video games, “Overwatch,” is policing “toxicity” by cracking down on YouTube gamers who are mean on social media while playing the game.

According to Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan, the studio has been “making some good progress” in tackling the issue head on. The developer posted a video update Thursday stating that the fight against “toxicity” is a “major initiative” for Overwatch, a highly-competitive video game, which like many other online games, brings out players’ competitive spirit.

Upon its release in 2016, Overwatch was once celebrated by progressive gaming publications for its “diverse” representation of characters, and for being one of the least “toxic” competitive online games. Since then, the developers have grappled with issue of player behavior following complaints from these publications that the game’s community just isn’t as nice as it should be.

On Thursday, Kaplan announced that the added ability for console (Xbox One and PlayStation 4) players to report bad conduct has “been really amazing and has shown us great results,” adding that they’ve added warnings for players who may be facing suspension. Kaplan claims that their efforts led to a 17 percent decrease in “incidents of abusive chat.”

He noted that their efforts have resulted in an increase of up to 20 percent of player reports.

“We’re restoring faith in the system — it’s starting to work much better, and it’s actually having a big impact on the community,” he claimed. “We know those numbers are not as great as they could be. We know that the problem is not solved and things aren’t perfect, but it’s getting a lot better and a lot of the initiatives that we’re doing here at Blizzard are starting to make a difference.”

Kaplan says that the team now “proactively [seeks] out social media sites like YouTube” to “look for incidents of very toxic behavior and track down the accounts that are participating in those and action them, often times before anybody’s even reported them or they’ve shown up in any other place.”

While Kaplan did not clarify the exact nature of said “toxic behavior,” he presumably refers to players who give grief to their teammates by mocking them, “spamming” character voice lines and emotes allowed by the game client, or picking the character you prefer to play—an action that may result in your team’s defeat due to the game’s unbalanced team compositions.

The game director says that these efforts have yielded positive results in fighting “toxicity” in Overwatch.

Blizzard has not clarified how they tie personal YouTube, Twitch, and social media accounts to the company’s game accounts, prompting no small amount of concern from the Overwatch community.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tags : video games
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