The British Esports Association, the not-for-profit organisation set up to promote and support grassroots esports, has revealed first details of its new membership platform.
The platform, scheduled to launch in spring 2021 initially for 12-19 year olds (with plans to expand to other age groups later on), will ensure users are verified at point of entry and that communication within the platform is reviewed to reduce toxicity and cyber threats.
The collaboration with IBM will explore how IBM Watson products can be used to enhance user experience, safety and wellbeing of young gamers.
The Association has also teamed up with safety technology provider GoBubble for real-time content moderation and will deliver accurate age verification using privacy preserving AI technology from Yoti to ensure age appropriate interactions.
Alongside the work of these partners, British Esports consulted with the NSPCC to ensure there are strong and consistent safeguarding procedures in the association.
Finally, British Esports, GoBubble and Yoti have been invited to test the platform within the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Sandbox. This is a service developed by the ICO to support organisations who are creating products and services which utilise personal data in innovative and safe ways.
IBM is a global leader in hybrid cloud and AI. The intention is to use IBM Watson Assistant to engage gamers via a virtual assistant in the form of a gaming avatar. The assistant will also utilise IBM Watson Discovery to provide personalised content to enable the gamer to improve their skills, compete in tournaments and find the latest video from their favourite influencer.
The project partners will also explore how Red Hat OpenShift can enable the platform to scale to a global market and even potentially beyond the world of esports. The intention is to containerise the platform, enabling it to be deployed directly onto the cloud infrastructures of other esports bodies and potentially to any organisation that runs a digital community.
Yoti is the world’s leading identity platform with accurate age estimation technology providing a secure way of proving ages, without revealing any personal information. There’s no need for ID documents and images are deleted after the age check. The free Yoti app also enables people to prove their age with one tap, which is verified with a government ID and their unique facial biometrics. Yoti’s combination of AI technology, liveness anti-spoofing and ID document checks ensures businesses can be confident in the age of their customers.
GoBubble’s child-centred ecosystem helps developers safely scale and reduce the risk of children being exposed to anything inappropriate. GoBubbleWrap, GoBubble’s content moderation SaaS API, will be utilised to provide real-time text moderation across the platform to reduce toxicity and steer gamers towards more positive behaviour.
This creates an attractive proposition for parents and teachers looking for a safer space for their children and student gamers to play together.
Chester King, British Esports Association CEO and founder, commented: “Over the past few years we’ve worked hard to build a community of esports fans from schools and colleges across the UK.
“What’s been clear through feedback from parents and teachers is the need to ensure that young people know who they are playing and communicating with, and that where communication takes place, we must work hard to reduce toxicity in all its forms.
“When addressing these concerns, we also must keep in mind the experience for young people, so whilst we have a focus in a safer space, we want to ensure that the experience is relevant and exciting. This will be done through curated relevant content, exclusive offers, discounts and competitions and exciting esports tournaments taking place throughout the year.”
Kay Thompson, Media & Entertainment Industry lead at IBM, said “IBM is hugely excited to be working with the British Esports Association and its partners on this tech for good initiative to protect our children whilst gaming”.
Christian McMullen, Head of Professional Engagement at the NSPCC, said: “We have a mission to ensure every child is safe online and were delighted to be approached by the BEA with an exciting proposal to make the world of esports safer for children.
“The NSPCC worked with the BEA to strengthen their safeguarding procedures as well as develop a code of conduct and content for their safe gaming guidance for children and parents.
“By integrating safety by design into their new platform, the British Esports Association is demonstrating their intention to create a safer space for the gaming community that has the potential to improve young people’s safety in the world of esports.”
Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory and Policy at Yoti, said: “Through the ICO Sandbox, Yoti, GoBubble and British Esports will develop privacy-preserving and ‘ethics by design’ systems that support under 13s age verification and associated parental consent. This same approach can support many other companies to comply in a friction-free way with the Age Appropriate Design Code and protect children.”
Henry Platten, GoBubble CEO and founder, added: “The dedication British Esports has to unite everyone in a single, safer, healthier and kinder community is inspiring. We’re honoured to help bring our experience and technology in creating safer, scalable and positive communities in 70 countries to benefit British Esports’ vision.”
Further launch information, pricing and other details are to be confirmed nearer the platform’s launch.