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Game Devs on Social Media: Questions You Should Ask For Your Protection

Posted By Jen MacLean, Monday, July 9, 2018

Two ArenaNet employees were recently fired because of their interactions with community members on social media.  This incident makes very clear the perils of social media for game developers, especially when transparent and well-understood guidelines for staff members are not in place.  Often, game developers love engaging with their player base, and the interactions can be very helpful for both the developers and players. However, without clear information from an employer on social media use, interacting with people as a game developer can jeopardize someone’s job and career, and even their personal safety.


The IGDA strongly encourages its members, both as individuals and as studios and partners, to clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts.  


Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities.  Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.


With generous assistance from IGDA community members, we’ve assembled an initial list of questions every game developer should ask, and every company should address, before interacting with players on social media:


What are the rules for staff about engaging in company-controlled online spaces?


  • Is direct engagement with consumers a job requirement for non-community/customer support employees?  If so, what training is provided to employees to help facilitate these interactions?


  • If non-CS staff is engaging directly in company spaces, are they allowed to disagree with consumers? If so, how much disagreement is acceptable? What sort of language (with examples) is acceptable and what isn't?


  • If a consumer is behaving toward non-CS staff in a way that the staff member feels is inappropriate/condescending/exhausting, is the staff member allowed to disengage? More importantly, is the staff member allowed to TELL them they're disengaging? Are they allowed to say WHY they're disengaging? Is there an escalation process the staff member should follow internally?



What are the rules for employees’ personal social media accounts?


  • Are staff allowed to have personal social media accounts on which they identify themselves as an employee of the company, or on which they share their role at the company?  Is LinkedIn included in this?

    • If so, are staff allowed to have personal social media accounts that aren't locked to the public? Are they allowed to have personal social media accounts that ARE locked to the public?

    • Is it expected that staff include any disclaimers that they do not represent the company, or that their opinions are their own?  Where should that disclaimer be included?


  • Are staff allowed to discuss non-confidential aspects of their jobs on their personal social media accounts?

    • If so, what sort of aspects of their jobs are they allowed to discuss? What feelings are they allowed to express? What sort of language (with examples) are they or aren't they allowed to use? Are they allowed to disagree with consumers?


  • Are staff expected or required to engage with consumers on their personal social media accounts? If so, how often, during what periods of the day, and to what degree?


  • Are staff allowed to tell consumers approaching them via their personal social media accounts that they won't engage? If the consumer won't leave them alone, what sort of language are they allowed to use/actions are they allowed to take to be left alone?  Is there an escalation process the staff member should follow internally?



What will the company do to protect its talent from internet harassment mobs?


  • What steps will the company take to deal with customer hostility toward non-CS staff in company spaces such as the messageboards or company-controlled Reddit AMAs?


  • If a targeted harassment campaign is directed at a staff member or members, what steps will the company take to protect them?


  • What resources will the company devote to detecting and preventing the organization of targeted harassment campaigns directed at staff members?


  • What training will the company provide to staff so that the staff understands the expectations for engagement and what to do if they are targeted?


  • What is the “911” process for an employee who is being brigaded/harassed/threatened? What happens when it’s outside of company hours?


  • Who can employees contact to vet their social media posts, both those made in company-controlled spaces and those made from their personal accounts?



What are the calibration/discipline/monitoring procedures?


  • Who monitors employees’ personal social media, and how much monitoring is to be expected?


  • Are managers responsible for monitoring their direct reports’ personal/private social media?


  • What is the review process if someone has concerns about an employee’s post, and who is involved?


  • What is the disciplinary process, if necessary, and who is involved?



Are employees allowed to play the game (if the game is multiplayer)?


  • Are they allowed to have non-company-tagged personal accounts?


  • What feelings are employees allowed to express while playing on company accounts? What sort of language are and aren’t they allowed to use?


  • What feelings are they allowed to express while playing on personal accounts? What sort of language are and aren’t they allowed to use?

Tags:  ED  igda  Jen MacLean  Member 

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