This Robot Prevents Gamers From Bullying Each Other – Vocativ

Abusive gamers might soon face a new kind of in-game adversary that could add an extra challenge to gameplay — tone-policing bots.

The London-based startup Spirit AI has developed software that monitors games for harassment and intervenes when it detects bullying. The application, Ally, registers verbal abuse and other concerning behavior, like in-game stalking, or even “touching” in virtual reality games. When Ally detects harassment, the program compares this to past communication between players to see if this is just friendly trash talk.

If the interaction does seem abusive then an Ally-generated character can poke in and ask if the player is OK. If the players confirms they’re being harassed, the bot will take action against the bully. The software currently works with all online games and should soon be compatible with virtual reality games.

Spirit AI was founded by Steven Andre, a former IBM executive and gamer who wanted to fuse his love for gaming with the AI that he watched his previous employer pioneer with their Watson computing system. His team of AI specialists, engineers, and game developers, including interactive fiction writer Emily Short and Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris, a professor at NYU’s Game Center. Mattie Brice, an NYU professor who advocates for using games for social impact is a consultant for the Ally software.

“Ultimately, we’re interested in helping developers create safer and more inclusive communities, allowing more people to play their games, no matter their identity,” Khandaker-Kokoris told Vocativ. “We know that companies have a vested interest in making their spaces safer, but this currently either requires huge teams of moderators, or the problem just isn’t dealt with.”

Gaming harassment is a growing concern among anti-bullying advocates. For two decades, “greifers” have been targeting players in multiplayer games, getting kicks out of making others’ gaming lives hell, pranking avatars and vandalizing digital empires. A study published last year in Media & Society showed that online

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