Electronic Arts commits to greater efforts to combat bullying and toxicity online

Electronic Arts invited more than 200 members of its Game Changers community partnership program, as well as experts, streamers, and members of its own development teams to take part in a Building Healthy Communities Summit that took place during the EA Play event at this year's E3. Held as part of the company's ongoing effort "to improve the player experience by combating in-game behaviors that make people feel threatened or unsafe," the event included discussions about the impact of bullying and online toxicity, what gamers can do to overcome its impact, and what EA has done and will do in the future to help eliminate it. 

Nearly 60 percent of people have been bullied in an online game, according to research presented during the summit, and three-quarters think it's a problem that needs to be taken more seriously. "While this negative experience has largely been normalized up until this point, this is a time to challenge the status quo in pursuit of a safer, more inclusive gaming experience," senior director of global community engagement Adam Tanielian wrote. 

"The Building Healthy Communities Summit is part of our sustained efforts to improve the player experience by combating in-game behaviors that make people feel threatened or unsafe. Our goal is to find solutions that work. We believe wholeheartedly that making a meaningful difference demands ongoing input from the people that love our games. We want to solve this challenge with our players, not just for them." 

The Building Healthy Communities Summit included a series of closed-door "breakout sessions" discussing more specific topics: Toxicity detection and technology, EA's inclusion framework, and EA's Safe and Fair Play project. 

"Similar to our game development process, these closed door sessions allowed us to bring our players in early in the process for honest feedback that can be pressure tested by the people who run and live in the communities themselves," Tanielian wrote. "The personal stories and opinions that were shared will help as we move forward in the coming months on each of these initiatives, and we’ll be sharing feedback in actions in the coming months on how we are addressing." 

EA committed to three broad goals at the end of the summit: 

  • Working with our players to develop a Building Healthy Communities Player Council that will provide ongoing feedback into EA programs, policies, and platforms, including additional avenues for community feedback.
  • Exploring new toxicity tools and in-game features to more easily manage and effectively report disruptive behavior in our services.
  • Keeping the community informed on a quarterly basis about the progress we are making and new initiatives underway to mitigate toxic communities through periodic Community Health Reports.

"We are committed to the challenge. We have to be," Tanielian wrote. "We’ve built amazing communities in and around our games, and we’re proud to be part of the global community that exists between game players around the world. We have to make it safe and fun for everyone. We look forward to working with you to make that happen."   

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.