I am a 32 year old entrepreneur living in Tampere with my American husband and our cat. I started gaming at a young age with my brother, playing on consoles until I got my first PC when I was 15 years old.
I started playing The Elder Scrolls Online at its launch in 2014, joining an already established guild of around 100 people, a rather different experience than in previous games I had played. In the past, I was used to playing with a close knit group of friends, so joining an already established guild demonstrated to me the inequality between the guild's new and veteran players. By the end of 2014, I was already in the guild leadership and leading raids. In collaboration with the guild lead at the time and using my past experience, I helped to bring more rules regarding behaviour, promoted equality, and as some said "introduced bureaucracy".
In the fall of 2016, the guild leadership was passed on to me and I gradually introduced more rules to foster equality and inclusiveness. Over the years we started to moderate more with the goal of building a better community spirit for newcomers and veterans alike. The biggest challenge has been changing the mindset of gamers that are used to being able to “joke” about anything. Our rules state “Insulting, trolling, cheating, baiting or triggering of other members will not be tolerated” and this is a rule that we actively apply. We notify players, provide official warnings, and as a last measure, ban the player. It is our policy that we require proof such as full screenshots, video, audio and/or testimonials from both sides as to what has happened before we make a decision. Of course, we are not lawyers, and we make decisions that we feel is best for the community. With the Non-Toxic certificate, my community is committed to promoting equality, preventing harassment, as well as being a safe and inclusive environment.
My advice to those wondering how they could take a proactive approach to identifying problems that they were previously unaware of, would be to survey their community. In 2020, we made one for our community where members could rate and describe their feelings about the guild, anonymously or otherwise. 93 people responded and 96% were happy with the guild. The freely written answers had common themes on the guild being safe for players of all ages and skill levels, community spirit being good, problems being addressed, and that none of the respondents had been picked on when asking questions. Additionally, respondents mentioned the guild's communication and partnership with Bethesda Nordic as being valuable to them.
I would like to emphasise that you do not get a safe and inclusive environment just by having rules, you get it by proactively taking action to create such an environment. As a leader of a community, you have to be ready to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, take your personal feelings out of problem solving and solve issues as they arise. Make sure you and your leadership follow the rules as well.
Hackathon focused on inclusivity and accessibility in gaming, held at Maria 01, 10-11 + 17 June 2022.
Learn more at gamequality.fi