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Gamers 'self-regulate' on bigotry

The computer gaming industry has been urged to promote tolerance and inclusiveness in its games in an effort to curb homophobia and bigotry.

It comes as research shows the online community "self-regulates" against misogyny and anti-gay comments in gaming forums.

Research from Lancaster University said those exposed to "different ideas surrounding sexuality were less likely to use homophobic language themselves", and were more likely to censure others who did.

Amanda Potts, a researcher at the university's ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science, analysed the language used in chatrooms for the videogame Minecraft.

She said: "In videogame forums, there is sometimes an expectation that community members share certain qualities (like being straight and male) and agree upon quite narrow conceptions of identity.

"I found that when popular channel producers uploaded gaming videos that depicted unexpected relationships between men, viewers and subscribers of the channel became more accepting and tolerant. What you ended up with was a community that self-policed against homophobia.

"When powerful people, in this case the video producers who are revered by their young fans, use language that promotes tolerance and inclusiveness, there is a trickledown effect where young people begin to avoid homophobic language themselves."

She added: "If game producers don't take the lead in working against harassment, then it is much harder for communities to organise themselves positively and powerfully.

"Not creating and promoting an inclusive environment as a producer leads to a lack of inclusiveness."

The research was based on more than 210,000 comments by Minecraft users.

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