A host of real-money gambling and gaming businesses have formed the Global Gaming Alliance, a new forum that aims to address shared challenges as the market for real-money, free-to-play and console gaming evolves.
The GGA brings together real-money operators Entain and DraftKings, Facebook parent Meta, and mobile games developers 89Trillion and Habby to create a fair and sustainable industry.
The collective has published a white paper, Responsible Gaming is Everyone’s Business, which calls on gaming companies to follow best practice on issues such as diversity, transparency and player protection. In particular, the white paper highlights a need for greater diversity, more accessible and relatable games for a wider range of players, and controls to ensure play remains sustainable.
The initiative launches with the gaming sector booming. Quoting third party figures, the white paper points out that there were an estimated 2.9 billion players worldwide at the end of last year. Revenue for the sector is forecast to surpass $200bn (£148bn/€175bn) by 2023.
This comes as the demographics attracted to gaming are undergoing a shift. “It seems everybody, young and old, is engaged in play, from educational to social gaming and beyond,” the white paper explains. “So far, the industry has created an effective suite of responsible gaming solutions, from parental controls to self-regulation tools, improved transparency to employee welfare.
“Now we just need to explore what the next steps are, and how we can work together to achieve even more in this ever-changing landscape.”
In particular, there is a need to ensure players are properly represented and supported. The white paper references Newzoo’s Gamer Sentiment Study on Diversity and Inclusion’s findings, which reveal that 47% of UK players believe diversity is important, with 41% avoiding games they don’t consider inclusive for them.
To make games more accessible to wider groups, the GGA highlights efforts such as Meta’s Black Gaming Creator Program, which aims to bring new developers and perspectives into the industry.
Further work is also needed to improve accessibility for disabled and older gamers, especially with a growing number of players aged 60 and above, who may have reduced motor dexterity, visual or hearing ability.
This is also true of LGBTQ+ and female representation in games. While a 2020 Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) study showed 45% of European gamers are female, a separate study by Buzz Bingo discovered just 12% of next-generation video games exclusively feature a female protagonist.
“There are so many more opportunities to make meaningful connections with women in gaming – be it championing female characters or hiring more female talent,” the white paper states.
But this diversity must extend into the people creating games, rather than just the games themselves. The UK Games Industry Census for 2020 found that 70% of people working in the country’s games industry were male, compared to 28% female and 2% non-binary.
Similarly, Black professionals are significantly underrepresented in the US, making up just 2% of professionals in the video games sector, compared with 13% of the country’s total population.
Gaming employees, the white paper continues, should be supported further through training and wellbeing drives. Initiatives such as DraftKings’ mandatory responsible gambling training for all new employees, and Entain’s Well-Me wellbeing programme are highlighted to show members leading the way.
The risk of excessive or irresponsible consumption of gaming must also be addressed, according to the white paper. Part of this can be done through clear signposting, whether that’s to set parental controls or by making users aware of the controls on offer to help limit their play.
“As an industry we should all make sure that safer gaming is an integral part of our business,” Entain’s head of safer gambling and external affairs Sophie Platt says in the document. “The safety of customers is core to sustainability, and by sharing best practice, we can raise standards to see this cultural change throughout the wider industry.”
Companies must also be transparent with their players about the data they collect, while there should be clear instructions on how to report hate speech or harassment.
Ultimately, the whitepaper is designed as the first step towards establishing a set of uniform standards that can be applied across the industry.
“If every company committed to following best practices, users would feel safer when playing games,” Han Qui, partner at GGA founding member 89Trillion, is quoted as saying. “When users feel safe, they interact more and share gaming experiences with their friends. It benefits the whole industry.
“This is how we can all learn from each other and provide a positive, safe environment for our users.”