4 Musts for Safe In-Game Chat in any Language

A good in-game chat makes for more play. Users engage more deeply and return more often and LTV and a bunch of other metrics that game makers like improve. Two Hat proved all this about a year ago in our whitepaper for the gaming industry, An Opportunity to Chat, which is free for you to download (intended audience = General Managers, Executive Producers, etc.)

In order for chat experiences to be considered ‘good’ by the user in the first place though, you have to make sure that no users are excluded, bullied, or harassed away from your chat community and game before they ever get a chance to fall in love with it.

That said, it’s hard to deliver a consistently positive chat experience in one language fluently and with nuance, let alone the world’s 20 most popular. Add in leet aka 1337 and other ever-evolving unnatural language hacks and the task of scaling content moderation for global chat can be daunting. With that in mind, Two Hat offers these 4 Musts for Safe In-Game Chat in any Language.

4 Musts for Safe In-Game Chat in any Language

#1 Set expectations with clear guidelines

Humans change our language and behavior based on our environment. The very act of being online allows for a loosening of some behavioral norms and often anonymity, so it’s important users understand the guidelines for behavior in your community. As you ponder how to establish these guidelines, remember that cultural norms around the world are very different. What is a reasonable chat policy in one language or culture may be inappropriate in another.

#2 Develop unique policies for each culture

French is spoken fluently in Canada, Africa and the Caribbean, but the experiences of those places are entirely different. Why? Culture. Native speakers know these nuances, translation engines do not. Two Hat can provide accurate and customizable chat filters built and supported by our in-house team of native speakers of over 20 languages. They’re real people and they’re awesome. These filters must be on every gaming site and inside every mobile gaming app.

#3 Let user reputation be your guide

Users with a good reputation should be rewarded. Positive users are aligned with the purpose of your product, as well as your business interests, and they’re the ones who keep others coming back. For those few who harass others – in any language – set policies that automate appropriate measures. For example: set a policy requiring human review of any message sent by a user with 2 negative incidents in the last 7 days, etc. In this way, user reputation becomes the impetus behind in-game experience, democratizing user socialization.

#4 Tap your natural resources

In every language and in every culture the key to building opportunity is engaging your most committed players. The key to building safer and more inclusive in-game communities is the same. Engaged, positive users empowered to flag and report negative experiences are the glue that binds in every language and culture. Make sure each has a voice if they feel threatened or bullied or witness others being harassed, provide the community leaders that emerge with the tools and voice to be of positive influence, and build a chat experience that’s as cool and inclusive as your game works to be.

A Parade of Kindness in Pink Shirts

Bullying is a huge issue for kids around the world. All around the globe, you’ll read stories like this one or this one or this one, all of which are stories of children or teens who have been bullied to the point of feeling so helpless they’ve committed suicide. When we say “huge issue”, it’s not an understatement.

Pink Shirt Day is an annual event in Canada, inspired by a group of kids who were sticking up for a friend who was being harassed because of their pink shirt. Over time, pink shirts became a cross-Canada symbol for a movement, with charities, businesses, and news media outlets showing their support for initiatives that take a stand against bullying every February. We hope this movement can spread further, into other countries around the world.

Bullying is an issue that’s close to our hearts at Community Sift. Every member of the team has been bullied at some point in their lives, as a child, a teen, or even as an adult. Now we are working together as a team to create software to sift out bullies and encourage positive online behavior instead.

Today we hosted a little experiment, by surprising a few businesses with some “drive-by positivity”. We all put on our pink shirts and grabbed stacks of pink Post-It notes to blitz each office with kind and positive messages, ‘flash mob’ style. It would have been easier to just buy some pink shirts and sit in the office working away, but we wanted to encourage others to join in the cause. We also wanted to see if we could make kindness spread like a positive virus. As it turns out, we could!

While we faced a few hiccups (one conference call and one team in the middle of a hotfix), most of the businesses were kind enough to let us invade their space with positivity. We kept it short and sweet, leaving as many pink Post-It notes with positive messages as we could at each office.

Several of the offices were also taking part in Pink Shirt Day, and they stopped to take photos with us. One local business (Hyper Hippo Games) even handed out prizes to the team members with the best Pink Shirt Day outfits.

We were greeted by honking horns and big smiles from most of the people we walked past on the street, as we were making a scene with our pink balloons, shirts, and happy Post-It notes.

After our little parade was over, we continued receiving posts and messages and photos from all the various people we interacted with throughout the afternoon. Then a funny thing happened – the team kept the positivity going, even without any sort of prompt! We started up a #kudos channel in our internal Slack, with people saying positive and kind things about each other, thanking others for being awesome. Our little Pink Shirt Day parade was a team event that wouldn’t have been as good without everyone’s participation.

We love the dreams of social apps like Brighten, who are on a mission to spread positive messages, or Facebook’s new “Reactions” button, which gives more expressivity to an otherwise somewhat lifeless “like” button. Rewarding users for spreading kindness is a great way to move away from bullying behavior towards more positive ones. To quote Lady Gaga, “Tolerance and acceptance and love is something that feeds every community.”

Happy Pink Shirt Day to all of our friends around the world. We’re happy to be helping so many great businesses to sift out bullies from their online communities.

As our team member Mila would say, “Let’s start with smile!”

 

Originally published on Medium