Social work

Good Gaming – Democracy Well Played : Digital Streetwork

Until now, prevention has often focused on microtransactions and addictive behaviors. The organization and internal logic of gaming communities are often overlooked. These are important living environments for young people. Games are no longer tied to a fixed location, but have instead been relocated by mobile devices. Players are influencers for young people and important key players in shaping opinion. Digital Streetwork is an approach that emphasizes the positive aspects of digital living environments and is activated here in a way that is geared towards the living environment and resources. Young people in particular are seen as experts and not as victims supposed to be helped.

educational standards

Digital Streetwork operates under common and important educational standards. SGB ​​VIII forms the framework, because street work is defined there as an educational discipline of social work, strictly speaking as a type of contact resulting from itinerant youth work. The target group is young people between 12 and 27 years old. Digital street work is mainly used as a possible method for the prevention of radicalization and extremism and for democratic and human rights-oriented education in the online field. This means that we focus in particular on the concepts of prevention according to Peter Rieker (“Right-wing extremism: Prevention and intervention. An overview of approaches, results and further development needs”). In addition, the three guiding principles of the Beutelsbach Consensus can serve as a basis, even if digital streetwork is active outside of schools: the prohibition of dominating, the rule of polemics and the targeted orientation help to evolve in a secure (political) framework and act in a pedagogically professional manner. At the same time, however, we do not want to work in a form of acceptance, but rather draw attention to problematic statements, positions and attitudes and proceed in a confrontational manner. Because we want to contribute to the game subculture being taken seriously in society and to promote digital civil society there. Gaming communities should not be stigmatized, but opportunities and possibilities should be shown. Our basic position is therefore the subculture of pro gaming and, at the same time, against GMF, hate speech and right-wing extremism in gaming contexts. The project sees itself in a kind of mediating role . This is also reflected in the pedagogical attitude of Digital Streetwork: open, curious, needs-oriented, but at the same time dealing with problematic content, making it a problem and not ignoring it. True to the motto: “You are not the problem, it is the content of your publication”.

Interaction and choice of platform

Good Gaming: Well Played Democracy profiles browse gaming forums, video commentary feeds, discussions, and chats. The results of the previous monitoring were used especially for the forums and were positively confirmed.

What are the particularities of digital street work in the field of gaming compared to other fields? In games, there are extremely large communities that are often active across all platforms (e.g., from Twitch to YouTube, Instagram advertises YouTube, etc.). Their actions are also characterized by an extremely high degree of professionalism, i.e. even the smallest channels are cross-media and are mostly designed to be highly professional through the use of appropriate equipment. In addition, there is a strong linguistic and symbolic codification of communities. The language used on Twitch seems to be its own language. Language symbols and codes have a long oral tradition and are often not directly understandable to “outsiders”. It’s a moment that’s sometimes used by politically motivated people, for example, to disguise ideologies of inequality as irony, or as a seemingly non-political historical reference in a game (like Nazi profiles on Steam).

What motivates you ? Have a significant educational effect online

In similar (social) youth work, young people decide whether or not to open up to the teacher on the basis of a large amount of information. It is more difficult to establish contact and a link with the recipient on the Internet. An interaction can be avoided with a single click.

Therefore, the focus should be on an attractive profile design: it should convey important information (when the account is available, skills: who manages the account) and a friendly appearance. In addition, contact with the managers of the platform is useful to give the account the necessary legitimacy. Criteria for selecting appropriate interactions (for example, in a question forum) can be: timeliness of the issue; certain subjects; technical knowledge; Questions for which there are not enough answers or for which other users do not recognize far-right codes, conspiracy stories or false information as such; current events. There are many options for case selection, especially when resources are limited or the early phases of Digital Streetwork testing is underway.

In our way of communication, we orient ourselves towards needs-oriented pedagogical concepts, but we differ in the acceptance of youth work. Additionally, we work in a confrontational manner to stimulate uncertainty about the statements made. In this way, we move away from a misanthropic worldview and encourage a recasting, but at the same time we attend to the personal motive of the commentator, for example, the desire for recognition. A kind of conflicting insecurity based on open-mindedness.

Digital street work as a form of educational interaction
video game

However, the dual purpose of digital street work in the games sector remains: on the one hand to work in the community itself, on the other hand to lobby for communities in the outside world. In particular, this means that in one-to-many communication we take an active stance against generalizations, false attributions as in the “Killerspiel” debate and excessive emphasis on far-right actors. In this sense, digital street work also has an impactful role in its professional pedagogical design.

This text is an extract from the brochure:

Amadeu Antonio Foundation / Good Game – Democracy Well Played:
“Hating without pixelating. Toxic and far-right gaming communities.
Berlin 2022

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