Maybelline Is Taking on Toxicity in Gaming by Bringing Youthline Counsellors in Game

We live in a world where gaming serves as a sanctuary — offering a digital escape from the day-to-day. So it’s disheartening to acknowledge that for some people, it isn’t always a safe space. After a successful campaign last year, Maybelline New York is back to shed light on the experiences of female and LGBTQIA+ gamers. Like last year, their new campaign addresses the issue of harassment and abuse in online gaming. But this time, they’re urging players to speak up and create a safer environment for all.

Maybelline’s Look Inside What Female-Identifying Gamers Experience

Maybelline’s ‘Under the Avatar’ paints a clear picture of the environment girls who game face when they’re playing online. But most importantly, it shows the impact of the harassment to the person behind the screen, who’s often forgotten.

The campaign follows last year’s ‘Through Their Eyes’ initiative, which brought attention to the rampant abuse experienced by female-identifying gamers. Now, they’re back and armed with eye-opening research and a solid game plan to help all gamers make positive change and join the fight against gender-based harassment.

The Research That Inspired ‘Under the Avatar’

With the help of expert insights agency, Bastion, Maybelline unearthed alarming statistics around harassment in the gaming community.

The research revealed that 76% of female gamers have experienced or witnessed harassment or offensive behaviour when they’re gaming online. It also sheds light on the presence of the bystander effect in the community. The studies showed that while male gamers experienced and witnessed similar behaviour, most turn a blind eye and ‘mind their own business’ instead of intervening.

Delving deeper into the research, 93% of female gamers who have encountered harassment or offensive behaviour admit to modifying their behaviour before playing. When I read this, I was reminded of how conscious women are about how they’re portraying themselves in the outside world. The fact that we need to continue to protect ourselves and be so conscious of how we move around others in what should be a safe, comforting space is deeply upsetting.

Plus, 59% of female gamers will leave a game they’re playing altogether when they’re faced with offensive or discriminatory behaviour.

Online gaming should be a sanctuary for people to indulge in their passion and connect with like-minded gamers. But for many, it’s ruined by the presence of a troll, desperate to show off their intolerance and disrespect. And sadly, it’s not called out. So the harassment continues and more and more people are shut out of their happy place.

Pairing Up Star Gamers and Counsellors For ‘International Day of Happiness’

This ‘International Day of Happiness’ on March 20, Maybelline partnered with Youthline NZ and ReachOut to host a ‘Going Under the Avatar’ event. The activation had popular gamers and counsellors paired up in-game, streaming live on Twitch to promote positive gaming and support people affected by gender-based harassment and abuse.

Aussie gaming video creator, Berticuss said “I grew up with brothers gaming and based on that, I thought guys would be super welcoming. I didn’t expect it… To be called out and that their words would be so impactful.”

It also shed light on the bystander effect within the gaming community with a goal to drive awareness and change — so that gender-based harassment becomes a thing of the past and the online gaming world is accessible and safe for everyone.

Gaming creator, Qrissy, explained that it took time for her to gain the confidence to speak up when she witnessed harassment when gaming online. “When I was a lot younger I was kinda scared, you see that harassment, but back in the day I wouldn’t say anything. Now I’ll step in and support them. Growing a lot more confident to do that online.”

The Four-Step Plan You Can Use to Help Your Fellow Gamers

After conducting and processing their findings, Maybelline teamed up with ReachOut and Youthline NZ to come up with a four-step plan for gamers to engage the next time they witness harassment and abuse when playing online.

  • Be Aware: Encourage players to pay attention and not turn a blind eye to abusive behaviour.
  • Voice Your Support: Reach out to the target of the harassment to let them know that you’re on their side. Assure them that you’re helping take steps to remove the perpetrator. Don’t forget to lend an ear if they need it.
  • Speak Up: Stand up for the person, while trying not to engage in the negativity. Instead, point out the harsh nature of their words, tone and behaviour and suggest they adjust it. By shedding light on it, they might retreat or correct themselves. Don’t forget — it’s important that you feel the situation is safe enough for you to speak out before you do.
  • Report It: This might seem simple enough, but make use of reporting functions and safety features on gaming platforms to hold the perpetrators accountable. Don’t assume someone else has.

The four-step plan of action will empower gamers to become agents of change — and ultimately help foster a culture of respect and inclusivity within their community. You’ll find more information on Maybelline’s ‘Under the Avatar’ on their website.

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