Voice Chat Moderation in Video Games

Putting the kids to work moderating voice chat in video games.

Voice Chat Moderation in Video Games
Photo by Uriel Soberanes / Unsplash

My 14 year old shouldn’t have to do moderator work for Meta because other kids keep using the N word and other offensive language in Meta Quest games. He does it, and rallies other players to report accounts using awful language in voice chat, but it's ridiculous that a kid is playing a game for fun, and while doing it has to moderate other kid's speech.

What a delightful world we’ve created.

To be clear: On the privileged life scale, having to tap a few buttons to report someone for using racist or homophobic language that doesn't directly affect him while playing a video game is pretty low stakes. I'm proud that he does it. But it's not ruining his time that much.

But stepping back and looking at it from a bigger picture, Meta (and I'm sure Microsoft and Sony) is failing our community by not having better guardrails and / or consequences in place for these kinds of things. And the parents of these kids who are free to shout whatever they want at other kids have also failed our community.

We intentionally have the video game play happening in our living room. For better or worse, the whole house can pretty much hear what our kids are saying if they're getting excited playing a game with any sort of voice chat. I can't claim 100% coverage since there are certainly times when we as parents aren't home, or are editing podcasts, or outside, etc. but we have a pretty good idea of the kind of language our kids are using on online video games.

I don't think it does much to most kids who get reported, other than learn how to set up new accounts if they get banned. It's the same whack-a-mole that I've experienced on Twitter with bots and other accounts that should be easily identifiable getting free reign to harass and bother the community until enough unpaid users report the account. And by that point, 3,000 new bots have been fired up.

Le sigh.

On the positive side, a Meta Quest game like Gorilla Tag—just what it sounds like, a game where you play a gorilla with no legs and you use your arms to move and try to tag other VR gorillas—has one of our kids moving around and way more active than anything on our Switch or Xbox ever has. It might not be quite as healthy as going outside and playing tag for real, but they come away sweating and exhausted from it.