Microsoft outlines shared goals with Sony and Nintendo to make gaming ‘safer’

    
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Sure. Fine.

There are a lot of things that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all disagree about. Which company gets your money, for example. But a new posting on the official Microsoft site from corporate vice president Dave McCarthy outlines specific areas wherein all three companies are in perfect alignment with shared principles about making console gaming safer for everyone, especially the most vulnerable among players:

We believe gaming is for all people of all ages, including our youngest and most vulnerable players. Technology makes compelling entertainment experiences possible, and we want to ensure that those experiences – especially when they involve interaction with others – are positive and respectful. All players deserve to have fantastic social gaming experiences in settings where respect and safety are mutual.

The posting doesn’t lay out specific steps but instead highlights principles, chief among them being more open communication about safety policies, more strict moderation and ease of use for reporting, and more strict approaches to fight harassment. It’s a nice statement to see, even if it’s short on details and long on ideals. But hey, if the console wars can call a cease-fire for responsible behavior in games, maybe we can all be better about it.

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Bruno Brito

wat

port13
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port13

If freedom of speech means letting some jerk call a child a ******. Then I am more than happy to limit the supposed liberties of verbal abuse.

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MassivelyMacD

[] You know what freedom of speech means

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Jack Pipsam

I have a problem if AI is going to be the main focus of all this going forwards, humans should be making judgements on things reported (making reporting easier is something I’m all for), but if AI is going to be the one making choices and scanning conversations (which I know Microsoft already does) then that’s troubling in its own right.

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Schmidt.Capela

The idea behind using AI is that the AI isn’t the one banning people; it only recommends actions to the humans, who will then review the evidence and take the appropriate actions.

This can fail, of course. Lazy moderators (or those under a lot of pressure to ramp up productivity) can always just accept the AI recommendation without actually doing their jobs.

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Kanbe

There’s also the issue of actually programming the AI well. If all it does is scan for trigger words that will miss a lot of harassment. If it’s built using data from actual support tickets/reports then the AI needs to “learn” the nuances of why decisions were made and not just, “this report has similarities to this old report that got someone banned so this one is a ban too.”

Not saying AI can’t be useful, but it’s something that has to be programed very, very carefully (and with input from many people other than the programers) to avoid falling into easy ruts to get into.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

safety  not guaranteed.jpg
ItsBrou🏖
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ItsBrou🏖

LOL.
Video games are for kids, after all. Maybe this will be the push for some people on the edge to wash their hands with gaming, stop playing alongside children, and take up more fulfilling adult leisure.

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually, if you define a child as someone younger than 18 (which us older people tend to instinctively do), less than a third of US gamers are children. The average age of US gamers is 35 years old.

Video-games are mainly an adult thing, created and marketed mainly for adults, since a long time ago.

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Jack Pipsam

I’d disagree on both counts, Games are for anyone like Film, TV, Books etc, a medium is inherently age-agnostic.

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Schmidt.Capela

I never said that games aren’t for children. I’m just saying that adults are right now the majority of gamers, and that most games have them among the target audience. Many highly successful games even explicitly exclude children from the target audience, like GTA, Cyberpunk 2077, Saints Row, Fallout, etc.

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Jon Wax

Flag on the play…

Some of us have been gaming longer then you’ve been on the planet and have no intention of quitting. Ever.

Gen x will be online til the bitter end

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Bruno Brito

This is satire, right? It has to be.

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Travis Higley

WTF, behind a TV or Monitor isnt safe enough? It’s not some kid can reach through the internet and punch you in the face. This defines true pussification.

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Jon Wax

I agree with the general gist of your statement though the delivery is questionable.

But in fairness, nobody deserves to get away with being a racist homophobe or insert random variation on the theme and walk away unscathed simply because it’s online.

It’s actually the aggressors who are the cowards in this situation. That’s why they say it online. Some of us still punch people for saying it in person.

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Utakata

The fact is you can still get bullied (or worse) while sitting comfortably behind your monitor by someone or someones far away. In fact, this has been known to be the case for quite some time now…well since the internet was born. So WTF, yeah…

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Peregrine Falcon

Agreed. But that’s not the problem that I have with this. The problem is that now Microsoft (and Sony) are going to listen in on your VOIP conversations with your friends and permaban you if you use a word that offends someone.

That doesn’t protect anyone. That doesn’t make anyone safer. Not you, not children, no one. What it does do is reinforce in your mind who’s in charge, and it reminds you that you can’t hide from the PC police even in your own home among friends.

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Schmidt.Capela

Well, in the first place I doubt it will get to that; private chat between people that are mutually in each other’s friend lists tends to be exempt from moderation. Though if you are talking to your friends over a public channel and use offensive language then you definitely should be punished for it.

In the second place, getting people used to the idea of never using offensive language, not even in private or among friends, do actually help protect others in that it makes it far less likely said language will be used in public, intentionally or by a lapse. Also, nailing down that offensive language is never acceptable, not even in private, helps also nail down that other kinds of offensive behavior are likewise unacceptable regardless of place, which also helps protect the vulnerable.

There is a valid discussion about how much monitoring and enforcement is too much, true, but you should also remember that a manufacturer’s platform is a private place, where the manufacturer is free to dictate the rules and the first amendment holds no power.

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Arktouros

I wouldn’t mind the whole “these are private businesses they have the right to conduct themselves however they want” argument if it was applied consistently for all situations. However all it takes is a short hop and start discussing loot boxes and everyone is up in arms and talking about how these corporations should be tightly regulated and controlled by the government.

It seems extremely selective to me that you want the government to apply rules to the company to regulate something you dislike but when they’re clamping down on “offensive” speech (whatever that actually is defined as because it often seems far more than simply racism or bigotry) oh well nooooo the companies have built these platforms and they get to say what can and can’t happen on them.

That’s not to side rail the conversation, but merely point out using another example that people are perfectly happy to have government regulations apply to companies when it suits their interests.

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Schmidt.Capela

First, I’m very much for government clamping down on video-game toxic behavior (and social media toxic behavior, for what matters). I would love to see laws mandating companies to clear up their act, forcing them to kick out people with abusive behavior and to fight misinformation in their platforms. But we unfortunately don’t have laws like that, and they are very unlikely to come from the US (my hope here is for Europe to lead the way and force the rest of the world to follow suit).

Second, lootboxes are a different thing anyway because they are thinly disguised gambling, and gambling is something already considered dangerous enough to society to require tight regulation. You shouldn’t include the “right” to sell lootboxes inside the right for free expression any more than, say, you should consider the “right” to sell hard drugs to minors as part of the right of free enterprise.

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Arktouros

First, I’m very much for government clamping down on video-game toxic behavior

Actually if we go by the government rules then there’s no reason why they would be clamping down on toxic behavior. In fact the opposite would occur where they would regulate it so companies can’t silence or impede upon the speech of it’s citizens partaking on a particular platform.

Which back to my original point, in that scenario you want companies to make their own decisions where as in other scenarios you want them to be regulated by the government.

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually if we go by the government rules then there’s no reason why they would be clamping down on toxic behavior.

Depends on where you are looking.

The UK, for example, has just unveiled new directives — expected to become law next year — that mandate all kinds of social media, including online games that allow players to talk among themselves, to weed out unlawful content (like inciting people to suicide, trying to recruit them for terrorist causes, and likely hate speech as a whole), as well as certain kinds of abusive or dangerous content (such as bullying children or lying about the effectiveness or safety of vaccines), or face fines of up to £18 million or 10% of the company’s global revenue, whichever is higher.

The EU also revealed today the draft of the DSA, which mandates certain moderation standards as a minimum (though it does also require companies to clearly tell anyone banned or that had content removed or blocked why such action was taken, as well as to have an appeal process); failure to comply could lead to fines of up to 6% of the company’s global revenue. The DSA is expected to become EU law within the next couple years.

Which back to my original point, in that scenario you want companies to make their own decisions where as in other scenarios you want them to be regulated by the government

I never said that I want them to be free to take whichever decisions they want, I just pointed that currently they do have that freedom.

What I want, though, is for companies to not have that freedom at all; I want them to be required by law to tackle toxic behavior, and severely punished if they choose to do nothing.

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Peregrine Falcon

Well, in the first place I doubt it will get to that

The problem with your line of thought is that it’s already happening.

Google “Sony PS4 Update Will Monitor Your Party Chats” (I can’t link it. My comments get deleted when they have a link.)
From the article: “Fans noticed that upon downloading PS4 update 8.00, they were greeted by a message telling them that voice chats can now be recorded and subject to moderation.”

You can believe that it won’t happen. I’m telling you that it’s already happening.

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Schmidt.Capela

Party chat should be monitored because of automated grouping; you don’t need to be a friend of someone, or even know them at all, in order to be put in the same group. What should be left out is chat where everyone is on everyone else’s friend list.

BTW, Sony has clarified that this specific message is about a PS5 feature that allows players to automatically record all voice chat directed at them and quickly and easily send them to Sony for review. So, for example, if a jerk calls someone the N word across voice chat, the targeted player can then with just a few button presses send the proof Sony’s way and get the jerk banned.

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EmberStar

Honestly, a suggestion I’ve seen that might help is to default Voice Chat to *OFF* in games. If a player has had any disciplinary action, then when they join a new lobby they default to Muted for all other players, with a little icon that indicates they were muted due to behavior. Other players can still manually turn them back on if they want.

This has the immediate effect of *confiscating the megaphone* that jerkwads can currently wield like a weapon. And it means that other players get fair warning what they could be dealing with if they un-mute such a player.

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Utakata

To be clear, I’m not speaking about or for the effectiveness of these programs. But rather dismissing the egregious claim that one is safe sitting behind their monitor.

However and on that note though, I’ve been wondering of late whether this about the actual effectiveness about the programs used. Or “issues” raised by internet bad actors who want others to perceive they are ineffective and intrusive. Because if the latter ends up being a “Free Speech” thing (as always seems to be with said bad actors), they’re not really talking about free speech for everyone, lol.

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Bruno Brito

true pussification.

It didn’t take long until you showed what kind of person you really are.

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Arktouros

Thank you (Corporate Brand) for letting us know you are doing your part.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Do we get safety from your usage of gambling mechanics?

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Jon Wax

Could be ok but could also be more disingenuous corporate virtue signaling. Lotta that going around now, especially with the holidays.

Been playing vigor for 4 days. Seen 2 teamkillers. That is a DRASTICALLY low number for this genre on console. So maybe folks are changing play styles or maybe there’s just not many people playing it.

How would they measure the effect of their intention?

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Syran

Making gaming safer and more inclusive is a business decision, not an act of generosity. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen, but I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt that they want to.

Also, teamkillers probably aren’t their main concern here. ;)

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Jon Wax

I use tk as a generic metric for in game behavior. Grieving should be pretty high on the list since it goes to the heart of team gaming

If they had come with something less vague I’d agree but without a concrete plan of action it still sounds like corporate nonspeak