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GTL: The Gaming Toxicity Crackdown & Hollywood Embracing Inclusivity

With online toxicity becoming more and more of a concern, game companies are looking for new ways to stamp out bad behaviour and retain their player base, and with movies like Black Panther doing so well, is Hollywood becoming more open to inclusivity?

On this episode of Game Talk Live, host Mandie Roman talks with panellists about Ubisoft cracking down on toxic speech in Rainbow Six Siege, as well as the success of Black Panther and what it means for the future of inclusivity in Hollywood. Joining Mandie on today’s show is Actress, Twitch Streamer and Cosplayer Milynn Sarley, Host for Popcorn Talks Marvel Movie News and gamer / comic book fan Markeia McCarty, and Co-host of ask your black geek friend B. Dave Walters.

Ubisoft announced measures to help stamp out toxic speech in their online game Rainbow Six Siege, with algorithms designed to detect and punish players who participate in “hate speech”. The panel discusses why toxic speech is such a problem for online games, as well as why getting rid of it is so important for companies like Ubisoft. The discussion covers the dangers in allowing toxic speech to be present in any given online community, as well as why punishments will or won’t work.

The question then becomes the difference between “trash talking” and hate speech, and why players would want to engage in said behaviour. Along these lines, today's guests look at whether the punishments outlined by Ubisoft would be effective. The discussion moves to ways in which players can better protect themselves from toxic online behaviour, while also talking about how important it is for companies and players to be on the same page.

The topic turns to the success of the recent film Black Panther, and what it means for Hollywood. The panel talks about the reasons why the film has done so well, as well as what it might mean for the climate of change in Hollywood. Discussion moves to the ways in which this movie may have had an advantage due to its relatively unknown origin, as well as how it can help to bring in new fans. The panel talks about whether Hollywood and the geek space have become more inclusive in recent years, as well as the importance that this movie, and others like it, have on impacting the future generations of film and comic fans.

Finally, the show turns to the issue of cultural appropriation in the world of cosplay, and where the line is drawn between cultural appropriation and cultural celebration. The panel talks about whether it is ok to cosplay from outside your race, as well as the inherit risks of choosing to do so. Finally, the panel discusses how detailed you need to get when cosplaying, and how this line can become blurred when it comes to cosplaying characters from different races.

Game Talk Live has wrapped up for today, but you can see the episode in its entirety in the video above. Be sure to check out the previous episode, where panellists discuss the H1Z1 Pro League, and its plans to revolutionize the esports Scene.

datagod -
Are they going to start making games with built in safe spaces?
"Toxicity" with in-game chatting is not attributable to a single catalyst, rather it has been developing over the better part of nearly two decades due to a combination of the nature of the titles coupled with an ever-increasing sense of competitiveness between gamers who embrace online solo/team play on such titles which has been fueled, in part, by equally increasing financial rewards for achieving success on such titles. Modern-era in-game chatting started out with simple gaming chat rooms (see *1) then a few years later in-game via a competitive title on the Sega Dreamcast called "Alien Front Online" (see *2 & *3) In physical sports competition, "trash talk" has been around for many decades with some of the greatest athletes in their respective sport remembered not just for their athleticism but also for their "trash talk" mastery (see *4). Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest pro-basketball player of all time, John McEnroe the original "bad boy" of tennis, and then "The Greatest" himself, Muhammed Ali, all were not opposed to engaging in "trash talking" on the court or in the ring. Sure, outside of their respective playfield each has made several highly inflammatory comments over the years, but in their respective gaming arena their "trash talk" never crossed the line of becoming toxic to the point of becoming a hate speech level comment. As with their pro-sports counterparts, esports competitors engaged in the same spirited "trash talk" against their online opponents ranging from the simple but to the point "You Suck" to more colourful suggestions and statements. Predominantly in-game chat originally made usage of acronyms as a kind of clipped "battle talk" to say a lot in a short, critical period of time (see *5), but it was not long at all before the "trash talking" began. No one can truly say who either typed out or spoke the first bit of "trash talking" during an online video game, a dubious distinction best lost in history, but there is no denying that the competitive nature in the games that typically allowed for in-game chatting in part was responsible for the "trash talking" to start and over time evolve. Without in-game chat moderation the direction of chatter during the heat of the virtual combat can quickly gravitate towards more surly commentary and, depending on the participants, comments that cross the line into racism, cyber-bullying type and other forms of online toxicity. The increasing rewards for success in online competition is astonishing. The history of esports began in the early 1970's (see *6) but meaningful prize money purses started much later (see *6 and *7) and has grown expontially ever since (see *8 graph !!). There is no doubt that reward-based scenarios breeds competitiveness, and coupling that with the PvP-based nature of the titles, be they solo-play or team-based, and eventually a kind of "benchmark" is established and then cultivated over time as to what kind of level of verbal competitiveness goes hand-in-hand with the physical/electronic competitiveness. It is therefore a fair assumption to state that in part, the ever- increasing purse of a video game competition might be seen as a catalyst, bringing out the more aggressive tendencies of the participants in the form of verbal communication since they are only competing electronically. Whether the commentary is a kind of "pressure valve" for some, or whether it is part of the very core of the personality of a participant, such toxicity had only sparsely been reported as you research back into the early days of in-game chat capacity. The nature of the titles that tend to allow such chatter range from war-based titles to sports-based and the MMORPG titles, all of which at some point require teams of players to jointly participate in coordinated challenges which often involve either a battle or a score-based challenge, and hot-heads can easily develop during the heat of the battle within such titles, so placing the blame on the nature of the title is, possibly, only a very minor catalyst in the growing trend of "toxicity". The best analogy would be violence in cartoons. Some parents blamed modern cartoon violence as an explanation for children acting out of line, but the reality is that cartoon violence existed way back in 1940 when the iconic "Tom and Jerry" cartoons regularly showed the never ending physical battle between a cat and a mouse, and even earlier in the 1930's when "Bugs Bunny" and the related antics that became a staple of Loony Tunes cartoons was seen by children of all ages at Saturday matinee cinemas across the United States. And yet the children of yesteryear did not suddenly start engaging in what is called "cartoon violence". In a nutshell, children knew enough that watching a mouse whacking a cat over the head with a frying pan was not to be duplicated for real with a sibling, a classmate or any other playmate or even pet. Instead, the natural competitive nature of the titles, coupled with the drive to compete for prize money, all without proper online moderation, collectively explains online "toxicity", and it may very well have been growing slowly but surely over the past nearly two decades as each of the three components has been subtly increasing without commensurately being kept in-check by regular moderation facilities. FOOTNOTE SECTION (*1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6LRsGDyX0s - online video game chatting existed 1996-1999 via AOL but not "in-game" (*2) https://sourcegaming.info/2017/08/05/video-game-history- voice-chat/ - Sega Dreamcast's "Alien Front Online" was the first to feature real-time voice chat capacity (*3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_chat_in_online_gaming - in-game chatting was first developed approx 2000 (*4) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1952241-the-25-biggest- trash-talkers-in-sports-history (*5) http://www.lagkills.com/gaming-acronyms.htm (*6) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESports (*7) https://dotesports.com/league-of-legends/news/the-evolution- of-esports-7693#list-1 (*8) https://esportsforgamers.weebly.com/history-of-esports.html
datagod -
Cultural appropriation is a ridiculous concept. Cultures from all around the world share, borrow, adopt, etc. from each other continuously. It is what makes the world fun. If somebody in Mexico is offended that a person in Canada wears a Sombrero during Cinco de Mayo, well I sure hope they aren't wearing hockey Jersey's or eating poutine. Actually, I hope they are. Sharing and embracing other cutlures is a GOOD thing.
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