IGF 2018 WS #233 Press Start: Generation of content within esports and online

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online gaming and esports communities constitute an unique niche that is nevertheless a quite significant group of Internet users. There are a myriad discrete communities centered around each respective successful video game title, out of which, according to E-Sports Earning, the biggest are Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and League of Legends. Their prevalence, magnitude and significance warrant further study as a constituent of the Internet in their own right. Additionally, the examination of these communities can provide valuable insight for Internet Governance, by looking at the way in which closed groups are affected by policymaking by private actors.

This workshop looks to explore the interaction between online community managers, end users, and the developers behind these games. Owing to the specific scope of focused gaming communities, the model of traditional authoritative journalism outlets turns out to not be as viable. Many such communities therefore have a heavy reliance on user generated content for news, something that has enough weight that video game publishers such as Valve and Riot Games have openly acknowledged its influence. This interaction ecosystem is vast, and includes user feedback channels and customer service; esports reporting about teams’ internal affairs, live event tournament issues, and fair play; and hearsay from within and outside communities about the game and its players.

This form of content generation is necessary for these communities to organize themselves, but it raises a number of questions which extend well beyond its scope. By definition, such groups are somewhat niche, which can result in echo chamber effects and subsequent mob mentalities that influence action. The veracity and objectivity of reports can be put to question, but if they gain enough traction, it can lead to the harassment, banning, or increased attention over teams, players, developers or community members, which mirrors a situation we more commonly study under different contexts.

Many communities are moderated, although the extent of moderation varies greatly. The transparency of moderation is difficult to monitor, given the size of these communities, and there are legitimate concerns around censorship. On the other hand, there is the suggestion that there exists an obligation of moderation, especially given their importance and collective power exerted by end users in this scenario. Indeed, many such communities can be considered “privately controlled public spaces”, yet their moderators are often volunteer community members.

Using online gaming communities as a focal point, this workshop aims to discuss the tension that underlies the relations between Internet community members with varying power over content, and understand how the generation of content, censorship, and overall impact on the competitive gaming scene work together.

Format: 

Birds of a Feather - 60 Min

Interventions: 

The session will begin with an objective and neutral presentation by a speaker providing an introduction to content generation in online esports and gaming communities.

Speakers will then be given 2-3 minutes to share their perspective on the topic, both in general and in pertaining the case studies presented in the introduction.

Speakers and audience members will be prompted by the moderator to ensure succinct and fruitful discussion, with fair representation of all stakeholders present.

Diversity: 

The speakers are from multiple stakeholder groups: Civil Society, Industry, Academia.
The speakers are from multiple geographic regions: Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America.
The speakers include male and female as well as youth voices.
The organising team includes a youth organiser who has never attended an IGF.

0-5 minutes: Welcome, introductions
5-15 minutes: Case study of online gaming communities and highlights of the Internet Governance issues it raises; echo chambers, mob mentality, information authenticity, moderation, censorship
15-25 minutes: Speaker opening statements
25-45 minutes: Open Q&A
45-55 minutes: Freeform discussion
55-60 minutes: Summary and closing remarks
As a birds of the feather session on a nascent topic, the session will have a flexible agenda that can be adjusted to the needs of the session as demanded.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The session will start with the moderator introducing online gaming communities and their unique ecosystems through qualitative concrete examples in order to spark off discussion.

The speakers will then share their viewpoints from their respective roles as community member/end user, video game publisher, community moderator, academia, and technical expert. It is expected that the speakers will have varying or even opposing views of the same issue, given their greatly different priorities and responsibilities.

As a birds of a feather session intended to bring about initial interest and knowledge of a previously unknown topic, the discussion will not have a prefixed agenda and may not necessarily have any other actionable outcome. However any such outcomes or future discussions would be greatly welcomed.

Discussion in and of itself is the goal of the session. Moderation of the discussion will first begin by initiating conversation between the speakers to set it in motion, rapidly transitioning into an open discussion incorporating as many audience viewpoints as possible. The online moderator will be considered a quasi-audience member responsible for representing online participation. At the same time where relevant moderation may refer back to the speakers regarding specific points or questions.

Online Participation: 

The online moderator will be responsible for online participation.

The session will be available for remote through adobe connect, as well as publicly open video streaming platforms, such as twitch, which are more relevant to the communities in question.

Rather than having another mic be rotated in, this session will try to avoid technical issues with remote audio participation such as poor audio quality and balancing, latency etc.

With the goal of smoothly maximising online participation, remote participants will instead be facilitated through an online text channel (adobe connect or otherwise) with the online moderator providing a dedicated voice for online participants.

In this text channel online participants will be free to contribute to the text channel discussion in parallel to the live session. Should they wish to interact to the live session they may make themselves known to the online moderator, taking care to state their name and affiliation as, as well a target person if applicable. The online moderator will then ask to be inserted into the queue as appropriate.

This approach should allow for more flexible, not-strictly-synchronous online engagement, as well as alleviate common logistical issues. It is noted that remote participants may not have their viewpoints instantly brought to the discussion, and subsequently responses from live participants may also be delayed. Online participants will be advised to keep their contributions and queries as thorough as possible, while being concise and clear, with the understanding that impromptu back and forth conversations may not be feasible. Online participation in text channels will be logged for complete and transparent post-session review by the rapporteur.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678