Two billion people in the world play video games. Here in SA a staggering 98% of homes with children have computer games and it’s a similar picture right across Australia.
Children and young people have been telling the Commissioner how important gaming is to them, not only as a recreation activity but as a connector to a social community. The Commissioner has had many conversations with children and young people on the meaning of gaming in their lives. They have spoken about gaming as a sport, as an industry. They talked about its potential for employment from careers in professional gaming to being game developers, sound engineers, broadcasters, commentators and event coordinators.
Children and young people have told us about the skills they learn in gaming and the way it makes them feel including:
- teamwork and friendship skills
- communication skills
- access to competition at a global scale
- providing a sense of belonging and identity
- fair play values
- rewards and recognition from peers.
Educators have also spoken about using young people’s interest in gaming as a means of engaging them in school and learning. They see the potential for gaming to be a way of supporting appropriate online behaviour and relationships and achieving results in teams.
There is value in creating a positive experience of school for those involved in school based gaming teams and in the development of supportive relationships between adult coaches and team members.
We are equally aware of the need for special requirements to ensure the design of games prioritises the needs and interests of children within a child rights approach. We need to work with the gaming industry to ensure their business behaviours, with regards to children, are regulated. They should operate within contemporary socially acceptable standards in relation to ‘habit forming’ design, and they need to anticipate potential difficulties for children of different ages and stages and always put the best interests of children first.
We want to work with industry and others to develop a child centric ethical framework that includes information to enable children to make informed choices about games and gaming. We want to support children who have problems with gaming to develop self-help strategies. We need to give them easy access to support services and technical solutions.
The Commissioner’s approach to gaming is comprehensive and includes:
- Support to develop support structures, clubs and competitions for gaming in SA
- Introduction of respectful and positive messaging to young people involved in gaming
- Problem gaming prevention and early intervention
- Promotion of opportunities and pathways for gaming as a career
- Protection of children and young people through formal recognition of esports and the development of policy, regulation and codes of conduct
- Partnership with researchers to examine impact of gaming on social behaviours
Want to know more?
Here are some helpful links to advice and resources on gaming.