A New Hotline Offers Free Anonymous Support for Gamers

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The traditional model of “gamer support hotlines” revolved round a late ’80s and early ’90s interval of titans like Nintendo and Sega. You’d both make a long-distance name or name a 1-900 line to get assist from a reside counselor on tips on how to beat a tricky online game.

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This story initially appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted supply for know-how information, tech coverage evaluation, evaluations, and extra. Ars is owned by WIRED’s father or mother firm, Condé Nast.

Those sorts of hotlines are lengthy gone, changed by YouTube tutorials—which is honest sufficient, as a result of it is normally straightforward to spell out steps to combat a boss or clear up a puzzle. This week, a very totally different sort of gamer-centric hotline has emerged to handle an industrywide problem that is not as simply solved by walkthroughs: emotional assist.

The Games and Online Harassment Hotline (GOHH) launches immediately as a free text-based hotline that anybody can use to start speaking concerning the emotional points that emerge all around the gaming {industry}. Twitch streamers, sport builders, Discord server members, even on-line trolls: all are invited to start speaking—anonymously and confidentially—about psychological well being with counselors who’re geared up to grasp gaming’s social methods and lingo.

Starting Tuesday, GOHH will permit house owners of US telephone numbers ages 13 and as much as textual content the phrase “Support” to 23368 between 7-10pm ET Monday by means of Friday. A collection of “established call centers” will course of your question, ask a couple of fundamental questions, after which let customers textual content tales and emotions by means of a back-and-forth text-conversation course of. Participating counselors have been skilled to grasp gaming-specific ideas like griefing, streaming (a la Twitch), games-industry crunch, and extra.

The free hotline is an outgrowth of Feminist Frequency’s years of non-profit media advocacy and is run by means of its donation-powered funding mannequin. For FF founder Anita Sarkeesian, that is the start and the tip of the hotline’s ties to her work.

“I don’t want the hotline to get caught up in my reputation,” Sarkeesian tells Ars Technica in a telephone interview, alluding to violent reactions to her advocacy over time. “I’m a visible person. People have a lot of opinions about me and Feminist Frequency. But I want the hotline to exist for anyone who needs it. I’m not answering any of the texts. You’re not going to reach me at any point. The values of Feminist Frequency and the hotline are intertwined: it’s its own space where people can go with emotional needs.”

The mission started when Sarkeesian and her FF collaborators, together with a group on the tech advocacy nonprofit Take This, started a hearty dialog in August 2019 after an explosion of “me too” tales stemming from abuses within the tech and video games industries. “Many folks came forward about abuse,” Sarkeesian says. “It wasn’t the first or only time, but it was a pivotal moment. Many of us came together and asked, ‘What do we actually do to end abuse in the games industry?'”

The reply is incremental, and this week’s launch of GOHH is one near-term resolution as a result of it’s constructed to “create emotional support for folks who need it,” Sarkeesian says. “It’s a confidential safe space where people can work out issues they’re having because they don’t have anywhere else to do that.”

“We aren’t tied to any larger powers at play,” GOHH coordinator Jae Lin continues. “We have no power to fire anyone, no power to get anyone arrested or indicted. We’re not taking a part in those systems. Those systems exist. We’ve seen them fail survivors and people who are victims of abuse and harassment all of the time. We can create an alternative space.”

But Sarkeesian and her collaborators are clear: This hotline doesn’t supply a mechanism for reporting abuses to authorities, neither is it a model of licensed remedy. And it isn’t particular to folks with so-called “industry” jobs.

“It’s for people who make and play games,” Sarkeesian says. “Streamer, competitor, press, fan, my mom who plays Candy Crush. There’s no gatekeeping here, no test to get into our boundaries. If you’re part of our space, we’re here for you.”

And with a large internet comes a variety of emotional points which can be honest sport for a GOHH session, which Sarkeesian lists: “Burnt out by crunch. Isolated, lonely, or depressed. Facing online harassment. Abuse. Afraid that you have caused harm and want a place to talk that out. Worried for your friends or colleagues. We’re a space you can come to and talk some of that through.”

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