Ethics in the world of videogames: gamers, on the way to being Olympic athletes

Stock Photo | Credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games (Colin Young-Wolff /)

The era of videogames is in one of the most interesting times in its history because it is generating changes worldwide, however, the impact of the ‘gamer’ phenomenon is such that this format is often news due to complex problems What cases of harassment, misogyny and unsportsmanlike conduct that cloud the overall picture of an industry that is constantly evolving and seeking to break paradigms created in the past.

The world of video games continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it has quickly ceased to be a hobby to become one of the largest industries today, because according to a study by the firm Newzoo, only in Latin America this sector generated in 2020 around 6.8 billion dollars.

Behind all this economic growth comes an evolution of the concept of video games itself, because in its beginnings in the 1950s, it was difficult to imagine how simple games like Noughts and Crosses (a digital version of the already known three online) in 1952 and Tennis for Two in 1958, would lay the foundations of a sector that currently fills stadiums and brings together athletes, storytellers, sponsors, developers and millions of spectators worldwide.

Currently, according to another investigation by the consultancy specialized in video games Newzoo, there are around 3,000 million players, that is, approximately 40 percent of the world’s population interacts, casually or more dedicatedly, in a digital ecosystem that is expanding every day.

In this ‘digital world’ millions of users converge daily in different video games and from many latitudes, such magnitude has made these communities of players become more and more complex to the point of generating dynamics very similar to the “real world” or as Luis Fernando Jaimes from the Gamers Foundation likes to call, the ‘non-digital world’, because for him video games arouse emotions as real as in any other space.

These dynamics of gaming communities have been the subject of news worldwide, however, it must be recognized that around them a series of negative stigmas have been created related to specific cases of bullying and violence that have arisen within the games and have come out into real life.

How many of us have not heard from previous generations that video games are bad? Well, precisely to understand this, it is necessary to review the evolution that the ‘gamer’ phenomenon has had around its gaming communities and how they have impacted on the society too, in a positive way.

From arcade machines to stadiums

Within the history of videogames, the appearance of online games marked a milestone and allowed people from different parts of the world to meet; However, this was not the beginning of the interaction between players or the creation of communities around the games, as this story would have a more “retro” beginning.

Luis Fernando Jaimes Rozo, is the general director of the Gamers Foundation in Colombia, a space dedicated to the promotion and education of video games as an educational tool and as a healthy method of entertainment.

According to Jaimes, “before online games, the interaction between players began within homes, bringing together small groups of family or friends who met to play, however, competitive play already materialized in arcade rooms, for example, young people played Pac-Man and competed with each other to break the local record, slowly that evolved and brought more people together until bringing the first tournaments and an outline of what eSports are today ”.

Confirming the expert’s words, the phenomenon spread in such a way that it was the Atari company that held the first video game competition in 1980, the Space Invaders Tournament held in the United States, which attracted more than 10,000 participants today, the Eleventh version of the League of Legends World Tournament (Worlds 2021) attracted approximately 73 million viewers globally.

With the advent of online games driven by PC games like ‘Quake’, the constant interaction between players caused many social dynamics of the non-digital world to transfer to video games, “It is normal that in the midst of the emotion some words are skipped a little raised, but it is from here that the first groups begin to threaten other players and transfer that bullying or digital violence to physical environments such as schools or the streets and it began to become a phenomenon that could not be overlooked, ”says Luis Fernando.

Almost from the beginning, online games have implemented a chat or voice room tool that allows users to interact with each other, although there was no strict control over these channels, now video game developers have configured strict patterns of detection of misconduct in order to block or warn players not to repeat themselves.

Beyond the negative, the communities around this’ gamer ‘phenomenon have been configured to enrich the experience of the players because also, online games generated the appearance of forums on the internet to help each other and create groups, brotherhoods or’ guilds ‘, “Many times there are friendships that start in the digital world and after a long time they know each other in the non-digital world, obviously following recommendations not to share personal information with anyone, in the same way that we would in the non-digital world, There are even many cases of people who have gotten married ”explains Jaimes Rozo.

It is precisely with the evolution of these virtual environments and communities that eSports or electronic sports were born, large tournaments where teams from a country or a group of countries compete for prizes and recognitions around a video game, it is here where the bulk is concentrated of the industry today and reflects a positive outlook regarding the solution of the aforementioned problems.

“Every time teams and leagues as such promote a more sporty and healthy behavior, and not only within competitions, since the regulations require that players or electronic athletes be excellent people both inside and outside the game, it is clear that there are unsportsmanlike behaviors such as hackers who use codes to obtain advantages within the competitions, this would be the virtual equivalent of ‘dopping’

And he added: this is something that is being worked harder and harder, in addition to constant pedagogy, because if a young person changes their attitude within the game, they will probably do so in the non-digital world.

Video game creators don’t sit idly by

Aware of the existing problems within gaming communities, video game developer brands, far from ignoring these dynamics, accompany and provide support to their players.

League of Legends is currently one of the most played online games in the world and the main competitive video game.In this situation, Riot Games, the developer of this video game, seeks to constantly work on improving the experience for everyone, as explained by Juan José Moreno, Riot’s public relations manager for Latin America.

“In many games in the industry and specifically in ours, we have a series of tools and systems to automatically detect certain offensive words or certain unsportsmanlike behaviors, in addition to the above, players have the ability to report another user at the same time , in addition to requesting direct help from a moderator if necessary, and in addition to this, we not only stay here, we generate constant campaigns to encourage good treatment within our community, for example, in VALORANT, which is another of our games, we had a campaign with NIVEA called ‘Game Changers’ in order to promote our women gamers ”explained Moreno.

Along the same lines, not only video game companies have focused on working to promote these ‘good practices’, there are many companies that have joined educational campaigns in order to help reduce negative cases and promote positive experiences that brings the ‘gamer’ industry.

Video games as healthy entertainment and a pedagogical motivator

For Sandra Castro Pinzón, director and founder of the organization Tan Grande y Jugando, the world of videogames is an “educational experience par excellence” since the potential that these worlds have to generate curiosity and arouse passions is very great “.

Castro is the founder of the organization ‘Tan Grande y Jugando’, a Colombian group in charge of promoting the development of video games in Latin America.

“I believe that as video game developers, beyond handing over a title, the consolidation of good practices corresponds to us as well, it is a joint effort that generates an environment of very positive possibilities.”

In the educational field, the Gamers Foundation is also responsible for showing parents the phenomenon of video games from a positive perspective, showing it as a tool for the development of children and a constant pedagogy so that parents themselves make use of the functions of parental control within the game consoles and choose the video games that your children will play according to their age.

Faced with the future of the ‘gamer’ industry, Jaimes also assures that “it is the players who increasingly realize the impact that their actions have within the digital environment, in addition, far from being a hobby, many young people see this as their lifestyle or a profession that requires equal attention ”.

Finally, we tell you that it is not uncommon for us to see an eSports World Cup in a few years, as there is already talk of including this category in the Olympic Games. According to the analysis carried out in infobae, the gaming world is on the right track despite the social stigmas and problems around the industry. Electronic sports are on the verge of being a sport recognized and valued by the world under ethical rules established by its leaders.


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