Is Multiplayer Video Game Censorship Ethical?

**Before reading this keep in mind that racial insensitivity should not be tolerated. ALL opinions I share are that of my own and not of My goal is not to offend anyone but rather to bring up an ethical dilemma.**

The Internet and Censorship

Everyone has an opinion and should have the right to express such. That’s one of the base foundations of our country. That being said, privately owned companies also have the right to censor people. They have full liability when it comes to what is being said on their platform. Twitter can ban a user for dishonoring their created guidelines. While this censorship has been a norm in most companies since the boom of the internet, is it ethical for them to do so?

As stated before, people have never really had a chance to put it all out there before the internet. Once chat rooms became the place for social gathering, people began to express themselves. This gave people a chance to put all physical insecurities and truly express themselves with subtle anonymity. It allowed people to find others that they could relate to. It gave a soapbox to anyone that could type a few keys to impact someone on the other side of the world. It was a sharp change in cultural norms.

This force rapidly got the attention of the governments all around the world. With this newly founded post board that could be accessed by anyone, some ideas that would counter the ideas that have been established for years beforehand. Think about the absolute chaos that the internet must have been on countries that weren’t ready for its immense cultural boom. Remember, This lovely ability to find any information could be used unethically. Bringing people together that thought they were alone in thoughts. Giving them an outlet to expand their ideas. Using the tool as a tool of destruction. Once the realization that the internet was more than a chat room hit, governments from all over the globe started to design ways to limit users on the platform. Banning sites from being accessed, monitoring users, or even banning its use altogether. This, of course, was before companies realized how much potential there was to monetize users.

So now in 2018, the internet is being used to its fullest potential. Subscriptions and microtransactions are the new fads. Companies rely on cloud servers to store data and keep them up and running. People that play games for an audience make a living and then some doing so. The internet is bigger than real life at this point. Communication has become dependent on the internet. Simple chat rooms have fallen to social media’s grasp on the news, media, and messages of the everyday user. Our own president is using Twitter to address the public rather than relying on television to broadcast his messages to the public. Then the media uses that Tweet as a talking point on news shows and papers. The internet has put its mark on the world yet, our country is still unsure of how to use it ethically. Even with the internet becoming prominent over 20 years ago, it’s still kind of a wild west era for the internet. The only time the US court rules on something is when there is money being lost or civil rights being ignored.

Censorship in Gaming

A few days ago I was playing Rainbow Six Siege. I jumped physically when killed by a hidden. I typed something along the lines of “You scared the S*** out of me!” in chat and realized something. I was double checking my message before pressing enter. I was actually afraid of gettingĀ banned for toxicity while typing a normal, non-threatening message. The ethical issue with this is that while what I said could have been offensive to someone that doesn’t want to see that word written out, who are Ubisoft to be the judge, jury, and executioner. Even if no one in my game had found it offensive, Ubisoft still implicates the 30-minute ban. While Ubisoft has the undeniable right to do so, it relinquishes choice from people in the game.

League of Legends, a popular MOBA, has a soft chat filter. The filter blocks blacklisted words with ‘*’. The filter can be removed in the options so that you can see all the profanity you want. League also comes with a service that reviews toxicity. The reviewer is given chat logs to be checked if someone is reported. This allows them to look into the context of the situation. If they are deemed toxic, they are given a 10 game chat ban that escalates to 20 games on the 2nd offense. The 3rd offense is a 2-week ban and a 4th is a permanent ban. Compared to Rainbow Six’s 30 minutes ban/2 hour ban/investigation/permanent ban. In both games, the communication is key for victory. So using the chat is a key component to getting to that win.

The voice chat in the Rainbow Six is a wild card for profanity. R6 devs admit that it is harder to monitor that but they ask users to submit video proof of toxicity. I have been in a good amount of games where people have said things that would have led to an instant ban in chat. So if no one decides to report them, they will be able to keep being toxic without a ban.

Racism and bigotry are never necessary, especially in a video game. That being said, players are using this chat ban to trick others into typing blacklisted words into chat. On Rainbow Six’s subreddit some users shared ways to trick others into typing slurs without their knowledge. Two popular questions to ask are “What was cartman’s superhero name?” or “Type ‘dabbing’backward!” If you answer these correctly you will be hit with a 30-minute ban. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourselves. The problem now becomes that the players typing in chat are not trying to be toxic but are being treated like one that is. Taunting players to type racist terms have now become a form of toxicity in itself. Some arguments to this are that “Players should know better! This is just a necessary evil that comes with punishing actual toxicity!”

What are your thoughts?

Let me know what you guys think. Do you think that Rainbow Six Siege should implement a softer chat filter or do you think that it is fine the way it is? Do you think that this kind of chat restriction should be implemented in more games?

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