I remember it well. A few of my middle-aged friends and I were scattered to the four winds by real life. From London to New York, from Sydney, Australia to Singapore, we mainly connected via WhatsApp messages and very occasional drinking trips to far-flung destinations However, we still had one thing in common. We all liked a bit of Call Of Duty.
So we undertook to gather online for a multiplayer game regularly to relive our past, nostalgic for the days of being huddled in front of the TV together, with beer-fuelled Street Fight II tournaments on a Super Nintendo, or Wipeout races on the Playstation One.
So we all jumped online, headsets ready, for the mother of all battles… and within moments we were being told to “Fuck your mother!” in broken English repeatedly by a Chinese fetus and, on one occasion, had to deal with some other kid who insisted on meowing like a cat every time he got shot. A man can only be called a “cunt” so many times by a nine-year-old before he snaps.
Clearly, we were not alone. Others experienced this and decided that online gaming was simply not for them. There are those, like my friends and I now, who will diligently play a new Call Of Duty single-player mission as fast as life as a parent will let us, but never go anywhere near online games ever again. They say that “toxic” gamers on voice chats drive them away.
Now the Call of Duty franchise from Activision has announced that they will collaborate with Modulate to create a new voice chat moderation system. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III ships in November and it will feature Modulate’s AI (what else!) powered system called ToxMod. According to the company, this is:
“…global real-time voice chat moderation, at-scale”.
It can reportedly be able to identify toxic voice chat such as hate speech, discriminatory language, and harassment in real-time and enforce against it. This feels like another thing to place in the file marked “Unintended Consequences”. Of course, gaming would be more pleasant without the twats and the idiots, but who decides that is “hate speech” and “discriminatory”? Social media has already shown what happens when a bunch of over-sensitive Gen-Z and Millennials straight out of US educational indoctrination camps are allowed to become busybody hall monitors. Also, you start with gaming but where does this tech end?
For what it is worth, Activision says the system is managed by them and voice chat will be monitored only for the purposes of moderation against the game’s Code of Conduct. All other policies remain as standard.
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