In this talk, Dr. Kowert will explore the ways in which toxic behavior and toxic gamer cultures permeate beyond the virtual walls of our digital playgroups. This will include a discussion of the normalization of hate in gaming spaces and the games industry as well as overview who and how these actions are impacting. While toxic gamer culture is often downplayed or believed to live exclusively within online spaces, it has a radius of impact on mental health, workplace culture, and even extremism and radicalization. Because when we allow hate to spread without consequences, it normalizes hate in all spaces. This talk will end with suggestions for the future about how we can start to change the culture of games, reclaim these spaces for fun and connection, and “denormalize” hate in gaming spaces.
Rachel Kowert, Ph.D is a research psychologist and the Research Director of Take This. She is a world-renowned researcher on the uses and effects of digital games, including their impact on physical, social, and psychological well-being. An award-winning author, she has published a variety of books and scientific articles relating to the psychology of games and, more recently, the relationship between games and mental health specifically. Her published works include peer-reviewed books such as The Video Game Debate, The Video Game Debate 2, and Video Games and Well-being: Press Start, as well as community-focused books such as A Parent’s Guide to Video Games, and Pragmatic Princess. Recently, she founded her YouTube channel Psychgeist, which serves to bridge the gap between moral panic and scientific knowledge on a variety of psychology and game-related topics.