The immersive world of online gaming is more than just entertainment, creating dynamic spaces where players interact, compete, and form communities online with each other. Within this virtual realm, the use of voice and text chat has become a huge part of communicating, enabling players from all around the worlds to talk to one another. However, the open nature of these interactions raises some questions about the necessity of censorship, especially concerning offensive language and disruptive players. In this blog post, I dive into the censorship in online gaming, examining the pros and cons of censoring curse words and banning ‘trolls’ to understand the delicate balance between freedom and respectful play.
One of the key advantages of censorship in online gaming is of course its ability to create a safe environment for players, especially younger ones, shielding them from explicit and inappropriate content. By censoring the use of curse words, game developers maintain respectful communication among players, reducing toxicity and promoting positive relationships within gaming communities. Censorship also preserves the integrity of these communities, ensuring that players engage in a respectful manner with one another.
By banning disruptive players, often referred to as trolls, moderators can further promote positive gameplay and protect kids from harassment. Removing toxic individuals from the gaming environment creates an atmosphere where players can enjoy the game without fear of bullying or intimidation.
But how far should censorship go?
The question is: how far censorship should go. Striking a balance between maintaining a safe environment and preserving freedom of expression is essential. Censorship should restrict explicit language and toxic behaviour to ensure players interact respectfully with each other. But overly strict censorship might hinder genuine conversations and raises concerns about individual freedom. Adults for example should have the right to choose their use of language within appropriate limits. When these restrictions become way too strict, they inhibit genuine expressions, conversations, discussions, and friendly teasing among players which in turn could fully turn away older players. Or the censorship could even falsely pick out foul language that isn’t even against guidelines.
Take Minecraft as an example of excessive censorship, because of increased censorship regulations in a recent update you can now get banned from foul language, even when you’re in a private lobby with just your friends.
Context here is crucial; understanding the nuances of conversations helps moderators distinguish between harmless fun with friends and harmful behaviour, ensuring fair and just penalties. The problem here sits with the fact that everyone talks to each other differently and not everyone has the same limits as others do. Moderators don’t have access to individual context which can lead to situations where a moderator can falsely judge a situation as harmful when it was in fact just friendly teasing.
In online gaming, the issue of censorship is a critical balancing act between ensuring a safe, respectful environment and preserving players’ freedom of expression. Some level of censorship is needed to ensure positive interactions. However developers must implement censorship measures carefully, taking nuances and context into account. This can be difficult since everyone has different limits and everyone has a different sense of humour. While kids should not hear adolescents swear 5 times in one sentence, fully censoring swear words from video games can inhibit adults from talking to each other in a way that they’re used to and so hinders .
In my eyes the solution is very simple and I can’t believe why this is so difficult for some games to implement. Developers could add an option where you can turn on censorship for yourself of your child so you can choose for yourself if you want to hear profanity or not.