This week a new campaign entitled ‘Teatime Takedown’ was launched by Aldi. The campaign is aimed at encouraging young gamers to put down their controllers and join their families at the dinner table.
It plans to achieve this by encouraging parents to submit their children’s gamer tags on the Aldi website so that a group of pro gamers can “join their game online and take them down.”
However, the campaign has received a mixed reaction from the gaming community. Some have drawn parallels between this campaign and the failed ‘Bully Hunters’ initiative of last year, which aimed to send pro gamers into online matches with trolls and bullies as a way to fight back against online abuse. The Bully Hunters initiative drew criticism at the time for perpetuating a cycle of harassment, rather than dealing with any of the wider issues.
In many online multiplayer games, players can communicate freely with members of their own and opposing teams, but these interactions are sometimes used as a means to harass other players. We have written previously on how this negatively affects participation and how the public perception of competitive gaming is tainted as a result, which you can read here.
Those pushing the growth of esports have also been vocal with their concerns about how this kind of behaviour could limit opportunities to bring in sponsorship revenue from mainstream non-endemic brands.
Toxicity is therefore a problem that publishers are keen to tackle and any situation in which professional players are deliberately targeting certain individuals (for example children) could be seen as bullying. This could not only be perceived as a violation of the applicable terms of service, but also in the most severe cases this course of conduct could also amount to harassment.
Further details on the campaign are yet to be revealed, so it could be that safeguards and measures are put in place to protect the individuals who will be on the receiving end, but it will be interesting to see the further reaction from the games industry and the views of parents who may be considering taking part in the campaign.