Sonja Gabriel

Sonja Gabriel has been a professor for media literacy at KPH Vienna/Krems since 2017. She teachers pre-service and in-service teachers for all kind of schools. Apart from using digital media for teaching and learning and media literacy her focus is on digital games and their potential for education. Moreover, she also researches and teaches on media ethics with a special focus on the potential of teaching values via digital games and the darker sides of games and gaming communities like hate-speech.

Hate Speech in Digital Games – Are Online Games a Place of Discrimination and Exclusion?

FROG 2020 – Keynote

The last years have shown various incidents of hostility, racism and hate-speech in many (online) games. Hate-speech always includes verbal attacks in writing or speaking or other kind of behavior that attacks a certain group of people. Discriminatory language, stereotypes and abuses are often used referring to a person (or a group of persons) because of their religion, ethnicity, gender, nationality and so on. Especially, multiplayer games which include a lot of communication as part of their game mechanics are a source of hate-speech. As these games are becoming more and more popular among players of all ages (also among very young gamers), you can find numerous examples of so called toxic environments, meaning game-communities or affinity spaces where certain groups of people are insulted, excluded or discriminated against. But not only in-game communication provides examples of verbal attacks but also in forums and community-spaces which are often provided for popular (online)games are a source of hate-speech. These affinity spaces are based upon communication and social interaction. Also platforms like YouTube or Twitch provide many examples of videos and streams containing hate-speech. Game companies and providers of gaming platforms always provide a code of conduct which is obligatory to obey by players. If these rules are violated, however, consequences for players are quite different – depending on the provider. Sometimes violations are not punished at all. Many platforms already have included mechanisms to report incidents of hate-speech. However, there are still many steps to go to make gaming more inclusive and less toxic.


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