Hate speech is all over the Internet and is a topic that has been addressed in Europe for some time now, in the public discourse as well as at political and institutional level. According to the definition of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (Ecri):
‘hate speech is to be understood as the advocacy, promotion or incitement, in any form, of the denigration, hatred or vilification of a person or group of persons, as well as any harassment, insult, negative stereotyping, stigmatization or threat in respect of such a person or group of persons and the justification of all the preceding types of expression, on the ground of “race”, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, language, religion or belief, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and other personal characteristics or status’
The majority of young people can become victims of daily exposure to online hate speech: just by playing a game on the internet, taking part in a group chat or using their accounts on social media.
The main aim of Play Your Role is to create spaces for dialogue, debate and raising awareness on hate speech starting from videogames, one of the activities youngsters love most. Media such as video games and game-related practices are complex and intertwined worlds that play an important role in the everyday life of youngsters and have therefore a significant influence when it comes to their building concepts of the other, behavior patterns and conflict management. The world of videogames can therefore help us in understanding and preventing hate speech among young people. As videogames can covey hate speech and stereotypes, it is necessary to help young people to critically understand the nature of these messages. At the same time, we can use the engaging mechanisms of the game and videogame to motivate people to become active players against online hate speech. New tools and new perspectives can play a crucial role in the fight against hate speech and positively strengthen active citizenship among young people. Play your role intends to exploit the positive potential of videogames to provide safe contexts of discussion, reinforcing and rewarding positive behavior and approaching serious topics in a playful manner, with a language that speaks directly to young people.