With much of the world still stuck in their homes thanks to COVID-19, online gaming – and especially in EA Sports titles – has been a pretty effective method for people to stay connected. That also means, however, interacting with people you don’t know.
It’s no secret that the online gamespace can be toxic at times. From random racist and sexist comments to outright threats, it can sometimes be risky business turning voice chat on. Following the George Floyd killing and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, it’s become even more of a priority.
Which is kind of lousy that it took a murder to get us to that point, but here we are.
Today, EA announced their “Positive Play Charter,” essentially a list of guidelines and policies for online play conduct that covers their entire library, from Madden NFL to Anthem to Apex Legends to Plants vs Zombies. The whole charter essentially boils down to these four rules:
From the Charter:
EA is committed to building healthy communities. We’re not here to drop the ban hammer, unless we absolutely need to. We will take action to protect our players against harmful behaviors, cheating, harmful content, and illegal activities. When you sign up for an EA account and/or use an EA Service, you agree to the rules in our User Agreement by checking the “I Agree” box.
Of course, all of this is great. It’s both a smart PR move as well as the right thing to do. But, it’s not going to mean much unless they show they’re serious about it – and they’re consistent with it. While EA has been clear about the consequences for violating these policies, it hasn’t been as transparent regarding how it will be policed.
That, however, is a different conversation. What’s important right now is not how it’s enforced, but if it’s actually enforced at all. It most certainly will be at the offset – a company doesn’t make a proclamation like this and then ditch it immediately. No, they usually wait a few months.
I don’t mean to be cynical (even though I’m the same dork who suggested – and poorly, at that – that we don’t need another Batman: Arkham game), and this really is heartening to read. But, other companies have implemented similar policies in the past. Maybe not as publically as EA has, but they have. And they haven’t necessarily enforced them particularly well.
On top of that, just a few looks at Twitch will show you that bullying on online services is still an issue, no matter the platform.
We’ll have to wait and see how EA actually follows through with this – and for how long. Until they show the world they’re genuinely serious about it, this very nice gesture is just that. A nice gesture.