The (back)stage of gaming community moderation

The gaming industry has done so much more than you think to keep the game community a better and safer place to be.

While the pandemic had a negative impact on various industries, the gaming industry was not only resilient but also consolidated itself in a growing profit loop. Even throughout the lockdowns, it stood out with revenues exceeding USD $174 billion, according to Newzoo.

As the gaming industry thrived, it created new job opportunities to meet the demands of a growing online audience. To understand the magnitude of this growth, Steam recorded an all-time high of 23.6 million average users in April 2020. Today, the gaming platform reported 33 million peak concurrent players. In 2022, at the tail end of the pandemic, streaming platform Twitch’s audience watched approximately 1.3 trillion minutes of video content, which is double the amount of time spent in 2019. With such rapid growth, commercial community moderators are essential to ensure safety and enjoyment in the virtual universe.

Monitoring progress, maintaining stability and ensuring the safety of those who publish and consume content on a digital gaming platform is a social and mental challenge. These people work to guarantee a healthy space for those who turn on their consoles and PCs to distract themselves. 

During the pandemic, commercial community moderators who were previously incognito on social media were called to the stage and the world learned about their valiant activities. In the post-pandemic era, the discussion surrounding the future of commercial community moderation has shifted with the arrival of the new act: the impact of artificial intelligence. As AI becomes a significant player in various sectors, including gaming community moderation, a careful and strategic approach is needed to balance the unique contributions of human moderators with the growing role of AI.

The tool seems to emerge more as a support rather than a replacement. The ability to understand contexts, judge critically, and discern terms, dialects, and distinct uses of language is better left to the human mind, but this does not erase the countless skills and contributions that AI can bring. The best match would be combining AI with human activity in game moderation, as AI could be used to lessen the burden placed on gaming moderators and optimize their work. Montreal is one of the hubs of gaming community moderation, and the companies based here have a unique perspective on the valuable activity of the moderators. Thinking about sharing the stage with AI could make their show even greater knowing that the tools can improve their activity and ensure a better place to be and play. 

In the evolving landscape of the gaming industry, the symbiotic relationship between human moderators and AI emerges as the key to maintaining an enjoyable virtual universe. As the sector continues to flourish, it’s clear that while AI is a valuable ally, it’s the harmonious fusion of human expertise and the tool capabilities that will shape the future of commercial community moderation in gaming.


PC culture: An evolution of politeness

Weighing in on political correctness and how it can be benefit our evolving society

Growing up as a brown Muslim girl, I wish I’d had a shield to protect myself from racism. I wish I could have been invisible when kids at the back of the class would hurl expletive insults at me, screaming “Allahu-Akbar!” as I entered the room.

I wish political correctness had been around when I was in elementary and high school. It would have saved me from a lot of self-confidence issues. Whenever I hear criticism of political correctness (PC) culture—in the media or even during class discussions—I can’t help but feel upset. People don’t understand that PC culture is a form of protection for minorities.

According to The Huffington Post, the Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey in August 2016 that showed 76 per cent of Canadians believe political correctness has gone “too far.” A lot of people share this sentiment and feel they cannot express their opinions about issues affecting marginalized people—but what they don’t understand is those comments are hurtful and unnecessary.

In my opinion, political correctness is a way for minorities—whether they’re people of colour or members of the LGBTQ+ community—to have a justification for being offended when someone says an insensitive thing about who they are.

We’re living in a time when minorities have the chance to feel empowered in our society. In the past, non-whites and other marginalized groups had no voice. They were not accepted as equals and, therefore, didn’t deserve the chance to defend themselves against dangerous expressions.

In a way though, political correctness has existed for a long time—hosts at dinner parties didn’t expect their guests to insult their food, for example. It’s something you just don’t do. It’s considered common courtesy.

Today, PC culture has just expanded on the idea of common courtesy. Now, the gesture extends to minority groups who have the right to not feel insulted for being who they are.

Recently, a CBC article featured Concordia marketing professor Gad Saad, who explained his views regarding political correctness. He stated that it is “limiting the free exchange of ideas on university campuses across the continent.”

In that same article, I read more about Saad’s stance on political correctness, how it is negative and limits free speech. Then, I came across the professor’s satirical argument against condemning cultural appropriation, in the same article. He said: “Our African ancestors were the first to engage in breathing…By that logic I think by breathing today, we are engaging in cultural appropriation of the first Homo sapiens. And so the only way I will ask you to stop being racist is to suffocate—to stop breathing.”

That’s when I realized, like most people who argue against PC culture and think it has gone “too far,” Saad doesn’t understand its importance—or if he does, he doesn’t care.

PC culture is understanding and being sensitive to issues that don’t directly involve you. It’s understanding that cultural appropriation genuinely offends some people—even if it doesn’t offend you.

Freedom of speech means you have the right to say whatever you want. It means you can argue that cultural appropriation is fine and so are other issues that affect minorities. But it also means that you can be challenged for your views and called out for promoting ignorance. While I do believe freedom of speech is a necessity, I also believe minorities must be protected from ignorant stereotypes.

PC culture frustrates some people, sure. But it also protects a lot of other, more marginalized people from offensive comments and dangerous ideas. I don’t believe PC culture should censor people from discussing controversial things—it’s important to have a dialogue between people from different communities, even if the person expressing their views might be a bit ignorant when it comes to their choice of words.

PC culture is correcting those negative and uninformed ideas. It’s pushing people to understand that the world no longer revolves around straight white guys—it’s now about a world where politeness takes precedence over out-dated, harmful ideas.

Student Life

An apple a day breaks the bank

Apple computers may be sleek and stylish, but are they really better?

Macs are taking over campus! This isn’t a conspiracy theory, so you can keep your tinfoil hats safely stashed away, I promise. If you’ve taken courses on campus that allowed laptops, then you’ve probably noticed that the majority of students are using Apple products. To that my only question is why?

Mac laptops cost about $1,000 from the get-go. They tout security, privacy and top-of-the-line hardware. But how much of that is actually true? Very little of it, it turns out. Let’s take things one step at a time to drive the point home.

For starters, for that thousand-dollar investment you get an i5 processor, 4GB of ram and 128GB of flash storage. A $500 PC laptop more than matches those statistics (for example, the Toshiba C55D series), and even triples the 128GB of storage you find on a Mac.

“But Jocelyn,” you tell me, “Macs are secure, they don’t get viruses like PCs do.”

This was probably true back in the ‘90s when Apple computers were used by graphic designers only, but even Apple now admits that viruses are a common problem for its users too, so no, Macs aren’t really that much safer. A computer is as safe as its user. What’s more, Safari (Macs’ default browser) was hacked in a remarkable five seconds by French company Vupen, making even the terribly flawed (and often ridiculed) Internet Explorer look like a champion.

So is it that Macs don’t break as often? Are cheaper to repair? Not quite. Mac components are more expensive, and can only be serviced by technicians that charge more than the average IT professional to fix. Why is this? Most Macs now require special tools to open up and service, and don’t take third party hardware very well at all. So what gives?

Macs are pretty, I get it. They’re easy to use and are fairly streamlined in how they function. At the end of the day, it’s your money and you can do what you like with it. But when I overhear someone on campus complain about how broke they are, while they’re hanging on to their $800 iPhone and $1,000 Macbook, a part of me dies a little. A Nexus 5 will cost you $250 straight from Google, without a contract, unlocked to every carrier, and an HP or Toshiba laptop will cost you between $500 and $700.

I suppose this raises another interesting question: Why are Macs the only computers sold on campus? Regardless of the answer, I have to congratulate Apple on their successful marketing, no matter how deceptive it actually is.

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