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YouTube / Blizzard Entertainment


Not on My Watch!

by Felipe Parada

I recently wrote an article asking the question if YouTube has become too toxic? It's an issue that has becoming more and more apparent in online gaming. It's also an issue that can become very dangerous over the next couple of years because it looks like YouTube isn't taking the necessary steps to stop this toxic behavior. Although YouTube might not be doing anything, this isn't stopping Blizzard Entertainment from taking matters into their own hands. 


According to Director Jeff Kaplan, toxic player behavior in Overwatch’s competitive mode is steadily on the decline. But Kaplan and Blizzard wont take all the credit, instead they thank the undying efforts of its player base. Overwatch players have been reporting bad behavior via in-game tools but Blizzard is stepping it up even further and going after toxic players by hunting them down on YouTube. The best part about this is that Blizzard is taking action against them, even before any player has reported them to YouTube. It a small step but a step none the less - a step in the right direction. 


In a developer video posted yesterday, Kaplan stated that the fight against toxicity a “major initiative” for the Overwatch team.


“As you all know, we recently added the ability for our console players to report people which has been amazing and has shown us really great results,” Kaplan said. “We also added warnings for people who were about to get suspended, silenced or banned that their behavior was unacceptable and that if they kept getting reported by other players or noticed by us here at Blizzard that they would get in trouble and that’s helped a lot."


In addition, Kaplan mentioned that the player-reporting tools and increased warnings have helped reduce “incidents of abusive chat” in Overwatch competitive play by 17 percent.


“We’re very pleased with those results,” Kaplan said. “On the other hand, player reporting the amount of times that you guys actually report bad behavior is now up 20 percent. We’re restoring faith in the system — it’s starting to work much better, and it’s actually having a big impact on the community. We know those numbers are not as great as they could be. We know that the problem is not solved and things aren’t perfect, but it’s getting a lot better and a lot of the initiatives that we’re doing here at Blizzard are starting to make a difference.”


Kaplan also pulled back the curtain and graciously offered Overwatch players a peek behind the curtain as to how Blizzard is aggressively targeting bad behavior among players, not just reacting to reports of toxic players. 


“We now proactively seek out social media sites like YouTube, for example,” Kaplan said, “and look for incidents of very toxic behavior and track down the accounts that are participating in those and action them, often times before anybody’s even reported them or they’ve shown up in any other place. That’s just one example of us being proactive that I think is going to make a big difference over time."


Toxicity doesn't only affect Overwatch but it does affect its competitive component heavily. From players rage quitting to players just logging on to troll other players, is something the developer has been trying to tackle for months. Kaplan also expressed his frustration about player behavior taking away development resources away from the game itself.


So it's safe to say that Blizzard has a large hill to climb but will it be enough? How will they be able to target all the toxic players that are playing Overwatch? Even with the help of the extensive Overwatch community I only see Blizzard scratching the surface of a problem that has gone viral. But what I can say for sure is that you can only appreciate the effort that Blizzard and the gaming community are putting forward to "make gaming fun again". So lets all make the effort to "make gaming fun again" by keeping others in mind because in the long run, it just makes things so much easier for gamers and developers alike.


So what do you think? Can Blizzard tackle the toxicity that plagues Overwatch or will they be be telling us "Sorry! Sorry, I'm sorry. Sorry."

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