Swedish video game company Star Stable Entertainment is rolling out a new artificial intelligence system in its Star Stable Online game that could revolutionize online moderation in the kids gaming space.
Instead of suspensions or bans for violating the site’s code of conduct, players received messages encouraging them to be kind and empathetic. Swedish AI company Oterlu and Stockholm-based digital content firm Peppy Agency helped develop the AI program, which was tested via a six-week pilot in England. Kids who posted negative comments were alerted about their poor behavior, encouraged to think about how their posts could affect others, and given suggestions about how to be more positive players in the game.
During the pilot, Star Stable found that the AI led to a 5% decrease (the equivalent of 5,000 messages annually) in negative messaging.
The program was initiated in response to feedback received from some of Star Stable Online‘s monthly active users, which number nearly 650,000 eight- to 18-year-olds, according to Star Stable Entertainment CEO Johan Sjöberg. The kids suggested that a system where misunderstandings could lead to users getting automatically kicked out of the game was too harsh; but at the same time, the company wanted to encourage a more welcoming environment.
“We want to build the social aspect that female players want, but without the toxicity that is common when you have a lot of players online,” Sjöberg says. “Just as important as the game itself is creating a positive social fabric for kids to feel like they belong and that they’re part of a community.”
The experiment comes at a time when kids are spending more time on apps like Minecraft and Discord, according to a recent survey conducted in the UK by Childwise. And social media apps such as Zigazoo and OK Play are also looking to create more positive spaces in online communities for kids in order to retain active users.
For its part, Star Stable is also building out its moderation features with in-house staff who encourage kids to be friendly, as well as partnering with users and teaching them how to be advocates for good attitudes, says Sjöberg.