Until now, the focus of prevention has often been on microtransactions and addictive behavior. The organization and internal logic of gaming communities are often ignored. They are important living environments for young people. Games are no longer tied to a stationary location, but have instead been delocalized by mobile devices. Players are influencers for young people and important key players in shaping opinion. Digital Streetwork is an approach that focuses on the positive aspects of digital living environments and becomes active here in a way that is geared towards the living environment and resources. Young people in particular are seen as experts and not as supposed victims to be helped.
Digital Streetwork works according to common and important pedagogical standards. SGB VIII forms the framework, because street work is defined in it as a pedagogical discipline of social work, strictly speaking as a type of contact from mobile youth work. The target group is young people between 12 and 27 years old. Digital street work is mainly used as a possible method of prevention of radicalization and extremism and of democratic and human rights-oriented education in the online area. This means that we orient ourselves in particular to the concepts of prevention according to Peter Rieker (“Right-wing extremism: Prevention and intervention. An overview of approaches, findings and need for further development”). In addition, the three guiding principles of the Beutelsbach consensus can serve as a basis, even if digital street work is active outside schools: the prohibition to dominate, the controversy rule and the target orientation help to move within 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 confrontationally. Because we want to help ensure that the gaming subculture is taken seriously in society and promote digital civil society within it. Gaming communities should not be stigmatized, but opportunities and possibilities should be shown. So our basic stance is the pro gaming subculture and, at the same time, against GMF, hate speech, and right-wing extremism in gaming contexts. The project sees itself in a kind of mediator role. This is also reflected in Digital Streetwork’s pedagogical attitude: open, curious, needs-oriented, but at the same time addressing problematic content, making it an issue 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 scour gaming forums, video commentary streams, discussions, and chats. Previous monitoring findings were used particularly for forums and positively confirmed.
What are the special features of digital street work in the gaming field in contrast to other fields? In games, we find extremely large communities that are often active on all platforms (for example, from Twitch to YouTube, Instagram advertises YouTube, etc.). Their actions are also characterized by an extremely high degree of professionalism, that is, 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 high linguistic and symbolic codification of the communities. The language used on Twitch seems like its own language. Linguistic symbols and codes have a long oral tradition and are often not directly comprehensible to “outsiders”. This is a moment that is 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 (such as the Nazi profiles on Steam).
What drives you? Have a significant educational effect online
In analogous youth (social) work, young people decide whether to open up to the teacher based on a large amount of information. It is more difficult to establish contact and 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, competencies: who operates the account) and a friendly appearance. In addition, contact with those responsible for the platform is useful to give the account the necessary legitimacy. Criteria for selecting suitable interactions (for example, in a question forum) can be: topicality of the question; certain topics; technical knowledge; Questions that are not sufficiently answered or where 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 tight or the first phases of Digital Streetwork testing are in progress.
In the way we communicate, we orient ourselves towards pedagogical concepts that are needs-oriented, but we differ from accepting youth work. In addition, we work confrontationally to stimulate uncertainty about the statements made. In this way we move away from a misanthropic worldview and encourage a rethinking, but at the same time we attend to the personal motive of the commentator, for example, the desire for recognition. A kind of confrontational insecurity based on open-mindedness.
Digital streetwork as a form of pedagogical interaction
However, the dual purpose of digital street work in the gaming 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 streetwork also has an impact role in its professional pedagogical design.
This text is an excerpt from the brochure:
Amadeu Antonio Foundation / Good Game – Democracy Well Played:
“Hate without pixelating. Toxic, far-right gaming communities.”
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