The gaming industry is a thriving global behemoth that has been the playground for millions of gamers, young and old. It is also big business, with global gaming revenue exceeding $159 billion in 2021 and continuing to grow at pace. However, as the digital world expands, concerns about online child safety and privacy are at the forefront of legislation and discussions worldwide.
New regulations such as the UK Online Safety Act are set to impose stricter controls on online gaming companies and force them to implement new safeguards to protect minors and offer age-appropriate experiences. Recent regulatory action, such as the unprecedented fine imposed on Epic Games relating to child privacy protection, has also made clear to the industry that the status-quo is no longer workable.
Here, we'll delve into the growing challenges gaming companies face, explore the sometimes conflicting requirements for privacy and child safety, and showcase proactive solutions for businesses within the gaming sector.
Challenges for Gaming companies
Child safety and privacy are becoming paramount concerns for various sectors within the gaming industry, ranging from massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) to mobile app developers and device manufacturers. The challenges they face include:
Varying Demographics: With gamers of all ages participating in online gaming, ensuring child safety within the gaming environment becomes more complex, and tailored solutions are needed.
Changing Regulatory Landscape: Ever tightening worldwide legislation, such as the UK Online Safety Act, the European Union's Digital Services Act, and the US's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), place stringent obligations on gaming companies to protect young players.
Public Scrutiny: Concerns about addiction, cyberbullying, and exposure to inappropriate content are garnering increased attention from the media, parents and politicians.
Navigating the sometimes conflicting requirements of Privacy and Online Child Safety
Balancing child safety and privacy is no easy feat. Gaming companies must find ways to navigate the sometimes conflicting requirements to create a safer gaming environment and age-appropriate online experiences. Key considerations include:
Privacy-Preserving Age Verification: Implementing age verification systems that protect users' data, while ensuring that children are not exposed to age-inappropriate content.
Inclusive Design: Developing games and platforms that accommodate different age groups through segregated content, age-appropriate settings, and family-friendly environments.
Compliance with Regional Legislation: Adhering to local and global regulations while respecting user privacy and safety needs.
How can Gaming companies comply with the regulations?
To successfully address the challenges of child safety and privacy, gaming companies can adopt a multi-faceted approach:
Age Verification Tools: Implementing on-device, privacy-preserving age verification methods to ensure that gaming companies know the age of their users and children are not exposed to age-inappropriate content.
In-Game Moderation: Utilising advanced AI-driven tools for real-time image, text, and speech moderation to keep inappropriate content and cyberbullying at bay.
CSAM Detection: AI-driven, on-device detection and blocking of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM)
Guidance and Prompts: Incorporating safety prompts and reminders within games to educate children on safe online behaviour and promote digital literacy.
Parental Controls: Offering comprehensive parental control settings, allowing parents to monitor and restrict their children's gaming experiences as needed.
How Privately's Online Safety Tools proactively protect children and help businesses comply
Privately, a global leader in online safety tools and age verification, is working with a number of gaming companies to help them comply with online safety and privacy legislation. The business offers a range of privacy-preserving solutions, tailored to the gaming industry's needs:
On-Device Age Verification: Privately's innovative age verification methods are privacy-preserving, ensuring that user data remains secure while providing businesses with a reliable way to confirm users' ages. Solutions can be built into the gaming experience, and processing of data remains on device, ensuring it is secure and anonymous.
Image, Text, and Speech Moderation: Using advanced AI and machine learning, Privately's tools can proactively identify and block inappropriate content in real-time, creating a safer gaming environment.
Guidance and Prompts: Privately's online safety platform incorporates educational prompts and reminders within games, encouraging children to maintain safe online behaviours.
Real-Time Alerts: Parents and guardians can receive real-time alerts if any concerning behaviours or content are detected, enabling immediate intervention.
Reduced Cost of Compliance: Privately’s enhanced, on-device technology means that game publishers can implement age assurance at a fraction of the cost of conventional age assurance solutions.
The gaming industry stands at the crossroads of innovation and responsibility. While providing entertaining and immersive experiences for users of all ages, gaming companies must also commit to child safety and privacy. Legislation such as the UK Online Safety Act, the EU Digital Services Act, and COPPA in the US reinforce the importance of these obligations.
Navigating these requirements can be a challenge, but innovative solutions, such as those offered by Privately, empower gaming companies to proactively protect children while complying with regulations. By implementing age verification, moderation tools, and in-game guidance, gaming companies can create safer and more inclusive environments for their users, ensuring that the joy of gaming can be enjoyed responsibly by players of all ages.