The r/EA_NHL subreddit has been filled with users highlighting instances of racist usernames that appear to have only grown in numbers these past weeks. Especially concerning are the racist usernames that directly reference the death of George Floyd.
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“NHL 20 might be one of the most racist communities I’ve ever been apart of,” wrote one Reddit user in a now-locked thread published almost a month ago. The user reported facing off against user-created teams with blatantly racist team names and bemoaned EA’s lack of a meaningful reporting tool.
“Nobody laughs at them, it’s just next to impossible to report this stuff,” responded one user. “EA doesn’t have the systems in place to properly do so.”
Now EA appears to be in the process of developing those tools. In a statement published on its official EA Sports Twitter account, the company wrote:
“We’re constantly taking action to maintain a culture of inclusion. Toxic behavior changes and evolves rapidly and we recognize that we need to do more to actively monitor and remove those individuals who perpetuate racist, xenophobic, homophobic or sexist behaviors in our games.”
The company promises to review its term list to ensure filters are “comprehensive and accounts for various languages, dialects and slang. This is something we will review and expand upon regularly.”
— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) June 5, 2020
EA also says it’s “adding more tools in-game to increase the reporting functionality to make it easier and more seamless for players to report toxic behavior as it occurs and for our teams to remove the content and offenders,” as well as increase the “frequency of reviewing offenses with the goal of acting more quickly to remove it from our games.”
The company also made a special announcement to the EA NHL community, which appears to be the only EA Sports game to receive its own dedicated message.
— EA SPORTS NHL (@EASPORTSNHL) June 6, 2020
“Chel shouldn’t be a place for any form of hatred, bigotry or racism. We have manually actioned on thousands of accounts to date, but it hasn’t been enough, and that’s on us.”
EA says it will deliver “harsher penalties to anyone with offensive content,” bolster “resources to monitor and action on more accounts,” strengthen its profanity filters and create “new in-game functionality for future titles that will allow players to report and send any abusive material directly to our team.”
“This is only the beginning. We want to be a force in promoting inclusive and equal hockey culture and we will continue to take the proper steps towards achieving that.”
The move follows Infinity Ward which announced that it too will strengthen its policies against racist and hateful usernames players create for online matches. These actions follow an industry-wide stance against racism following the death of George Floyd.
Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN.