Radio Berkman 217: Don’t Hate the Player, Change the Game

June 1st, 2015

49585Listen:or download | …also in Ogg

Few sectors of the networked environment get a worse reputation for hate speech than online gaming. Competitive games with chat functions have always involved some level of trash talking. Slurs, shaming, and casual threats are part of the players’ toolkit for riling up their opponent.

But the toxicity levels of video game forums have reached a dangerous point. Unregulated and unchecked, many gaming networks have become zones where cyberbullying, misogyny, racism, and homophobic language are the norm.

At least one gaming company has decided that this behavior should NOT be the norm. In 2012, Riot Games – makers of the insanely popular League of Legends (over 60 million players around the world) – hired a cognitive neuroscientist named Jeffrey “Lyte” Lin to “game” the game. Jeffrey is in charge of building social systems that de-incentivize bad behavior and bring about a more sportsman-like culture.

On today’s episode, we talk to Jeffrey about what the web can learn from how games are fighting hate speech.

This is the first episode in a series on hate speech online. If you have any comments, or suggestions for future guests and topics, leave us a note in the comments, or send us a tweet!

Reference Section:
More on Jeffrey’s work with Riot
A great primer from PBS on how hate speech destroys games

This episode features Creative Commons Music from:
Chad Crouch
Timo Timonen

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This week’s episode produced and edited by Daniel Dennis Jones and Carrie Tian, with help from Gretchen Weber.

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