Though these issues should’ve been addressed years ago, EA Sports announced a push to eliminate racism and other forms of toxic behavior from its games.
EA Sports highlighted a longstanding issue with its games Friday night, posting steps it intends to take eliminate racist, xenophobic, homophobic and sexist behaviors from their online components.
“We’re constantly taking action to maintain a culture of inclusion,” read a statement released on Twitter. “Toxic behavior changes and evolves rapidly and we recognize that we need to do more to actively monitor and remove those individuals who perpetuate racist, xenophobic, homophobic or sexist behaviors in our games.”
To combat the issues in the short term, the publisher and its respective developers are said to be reviewing their games’ term lists to account for a wider range of languages, dialects, and slang to create a stronger profanity filter. In addition, they’ll be implementing more in-game tools to make it easier for players to report toxic behavior, and dedicate more resources into reviewing offenses at a faster rate and on a greater scale.
“But we won’t stop at these actions because we know we need to do better,” the statement read. “We will keep listening and continue to take steps that can make an impact in fighting bias, discrimination and injustice. We are also reviewing the policies and steps we can take across our entire portfolio of games and we will share more with you in the coming weeks.”
— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) June 5, 2020
As a whole, EA has been pretty active in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
On Sunday, the team at EA Tiburon decided to delay its first look at Madden NFL 21, feeling that it wasn’t right to take attention away from the protests. On Tuesday, CEO Andrew Wilson sent a note out to employees that included, among other initiatives, plans for the company to donate $1 million to organizations dedicated to fighting against racial injustice, along with the promise to double match any donation made by an individual employee to a local or national group. Then, earlier Friday, the publisher announced that it was pushing back its annual EA Play event from June 11 to June 18, once again to keep focus on the protests and the conversation being had from them.
EA Sports’ announced steps to combat toxic behavior came a day after Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward announced similar plans to ban racist player content from Modern Warfare (2019) and the standalone Warzone battle royale mode.
However, as DualShockers editor Logan Moore and much of the internet pointed out with Infinity Ward, EA Sports making a greater push to crack down on bad actors isn’t something it deserves praise for, as these efforts are more than a decade overdue.
A chunk of NHL’s player base, for instance, has been notoriously immature and blatantly offensive with the games’ customization suite ever since the series introduced the Be A Pro and EASHL modes with NHL 09. It shouldn’t have taken a global outcry nearly 12 years later to finally do something about it.
Speaking of NHL, the series’ Twitter account posted its own statement about toxic behavior, indicating that developer EA Vancouver is very much aware of the aforementioned problems within its community.
“Chel shouldn’t be a place for any form of hatred, bigotry or racism,” the statement read. “We have manually actioned on thousands of accounts to date, but it hasn’t been enough, and that’s on us,” going on to again list the steps coming to EA Sports game across the board.
— EA SPORTS NHL (@EASPORTSNHL) June 6, 2020
As of late Friday night, out of a group that includes Madden, FIFA, UFC, and in limbo NBA Live, NHL is the only EA Sports franchise to make its own specific statement. It’s also important to note that hockey culture at large is looking itself in the mirror after Akim Aliu, a black player, had a harrowing account of his experience with racism and abuse on his way to the professional level published in The Players’ Tribune a couple weeks ago.
“This is only the beginning,” read the EA NHL statement. “We want to be a force in promoting inclusive and equal hockey culture and we will continue to take the proper steps towards achieving that.”