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Congress wants video game studios to better tackle extremism
As toxicity in games grows, several members of Congress have sent a letter asking developers what they're doing about it
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Congress
🗣️ The biggest gaming studios have been asked by Congress what they’re doing to tackle extremism in gaming
📨 A letter has been sent to the likes of Sony, EA, Microsoft and Valve
👎 It follows a damning report on growing harassment in online games
🤷♀️ But the studios aren’t obligated to respond or take any action
Seven members of Congress have sent a letter to many of the world’s biggest video game studios demanding to know what they’re doing to tackle extremism and harassment in gaming.
As Axios first reported, the letter is being sent to the heavy hitters of the gaming world responsible for some of the best PS5 games and best Xbox Series X games, including Activision Blizzard, EA, Sony, Microsoft, Valve and Tencent.
Axios has reportedly seen a copy of the letter, which says the group of representatives want “to better understand the processes you have in place to handle player reports of harassment and extremism encounters in your online games, and ask for consideration of safety measures pertaining to anti-harassment and anti-extremism”.
The letter’s authors cite a recent study into the rise of extremism in online games published by the Anti-Defamation League. The study found “the spread of hate, harassment, and extremism in these digital spaces continues to grow unchecked” and the number of people exposed to white supremacist ideologies in online games more than doubled since last year.
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The letter, according to Axios, requests studios explain what they’re doing to combat extremism in their games, as well as details about the systems, teams and investments they already have in place. However, the companies aren’t obligated to reply to the letter, or engage with it at all.
“When we talk about holding technology companies accountable for what they’re pushing toward our kids, gaming companies must be a part of that conversation,” Congresswoman Lori Trahan, one of the letter’s co-authors, told Axios.
As Kotaku pointed out, the letter’s recipients are humongous multinational corporations comprising thousands of employees, and worth millions of dollars. Except for one. Innersloth, best known as the developer of hit social deduction game Among Us, is also included in the list, despite only having 20 employees, per the studio’s website.
It’s understandable how Innersloth could have made its way onto the list. Among Us is a massively popular online game particularly enjoyed by young children and teens who are potentially at risk of harassment, hate and radicalization. But it might be a stretch to suppose such a tiny team of developers has much insight on the industry-spanning topic to offer Congress, especially when Among Us doesn’t support voice or open text chat.