Pro-Social Gaming For the Win!
Posted on January 22, 2018
This is going to sound like I’m just talking about Overwatch again, but this time it goes to the very heart of what Game Truck Australia is all about.
The Overwatch League may be only in its infancy, but it attracted over 10 million viewers in its first week and has already sparked some controversy. Last week xQc, a fan favourite from Dallas Fuel, was suspended by the League for four games and fined $2000 for homophobic remarks made on his own stream. His team supported the suspension and extended it for the rest of stage one, indicating their support of the action. While the comments themselves don’t bear repeating here, what made them worse was that they were levelled against a player from another team who is openly gay.
This is a pretty big move, no doubt. Blizzard and the League are clearly making an example of this incident and showing that no tolerance will be shown for abusive or bullying behaviour. At the same time this feeds into a culture which thrives on drama and controversy, and no doubt lots of fans would see this punishment as heavy-handed, overreaching, or an example of censorship (which it isn’t). For my money I think they have done absolutely the right thing in their quest to create an open, inclusive, and positive League.
But there is some important context here. While video game culture, like any subculture, is broad, diverse, and dynamic, there is no doubt that it has been associated with some extremely anti-social behaviour: at its worst, serious bullying and harrassment of women and minorities. In an excellent book covering these issues, Leena van Deventer and Dan Golding analyse this anti-social behaviour and what might be done about it.
The basic point here is that anti-social behaviour is just not on, but we also need to recognise, celebrate and encourage examples of pro-social gaming behaviour everywhere we can. For example, the CheckPoint project seeks to improve mental health through video games; the Child’s Play Charity raises funds for children’s health welfare and have raised over $44 million since 2003, and the Gamers Outreach Foundation seeks to improve lives through the power of play. You don’t have to look very hard to find stories like this one, where Sean Dench avoided a life of violence and prison through building on his passion for Street Fighter and becoming a world-renowned eSports star.
This prosocial approach to gaming is exactly what Game Truck Australia is all about – we always have the ‘best party ever!’, but within boundaries. Of course friendly competition in some games is just part of what it’s about, but in the Truck we always emphasise sharing, cooperation, and building rather than destruction. We recognise that age-appropriate gaming is essential, and cater every party to the age and stage of the kids who are in the truck, and if we need to get consent for kids under 15 to play M and M15+ games, we do that so that all parents ave their views and preferences about game content respected. In our discussions and blog posts we always try to raise awareness of the diversity of games out there and create conversations between gamers and others (often their parents!).
Most importantly, at the beginning of every party we establish one firm ground rule: no griefing. Kids have a go at defining what that means but we then explain it as anything that ruins someone else’s fun: as long as everyone has a great time, everyone is happy. The good news is that we almost never have to moderate bad behaviour in the Truck: when kids are respected and trusted to do the right thing, they generally do (although they will sometimes play at reporting griefing).
Of course this isn’t going to change the world, but we hope that this establishes for a good number of kids a positive and prosocial experience of gaming that is fun, engaging, but most importantly respectful. It’s a huge honour to run a business that has the potential to have an impact in this way. This is both modelling and an experience that hopes to slowly contribute to a culture where video games are just a normal part of a life that is positive and respectful, and makes the very best of the amazing technology and game design that we have in front of us.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss a potential booking, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Chad on 0433 318 001.