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Inaugural “Pixels and Possibilities” global symposium seeks to create a brighter future in Esports

The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) has partnered with the Secure Communities Forum (SCF), the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Singapore Cybersports & Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) to launch the inaugural “Pixels and Possibilities” global symposium today.

The symposium aims to raise awareness of the possible threats on online gaming platforms and inspire innovative solutions to build a safer and more inclusive gaming environment, as gaming emerges as a powerful channel for social interaction and self-expression around the world.

The full-day symposium was graced by Minister of State, Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development. Over 300 guests came together at the event, including international experts, scholars, policymakers, and representatives from game developers, as well as gaming and esports communities, to explore practical ways to create a safe space for all – be it casual gamers or professional esports competitors.

Professor Tan Tai Yong, SUSS President, said, “We are excited to host the first such international esports symposium at SUSS. Through this event, we hope to encourage meaningful knowledge exchange and collaborations in the global fight against online hate on gaming platforms. Together with our partners from the Secure Communities Forum, led by the Ministry of Interior, United Arab Emirates, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Singapore Cybersports & Online Gaming Association, we hope to explore strategies to mitigate harmful content in gaming communities and foster a positive, respectful gaming culture. Through collective efforts, gaming and esports has the potential to inspire creativity, personal development, sportsmanship as well as greater inclusivity and empathy, which can extend beyond the online community and into our everyday lives.”

Lt. Col. Dana Humaid, Director General, International Affairs Bureau, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Interior said, “On behalf of the Secure Communities Forum, we are delighted to be working with our valued partners in hosting this important event. Online communities, like esports, have an ever-increasingly important role in our societies, and it is only right therefore that we ensure these are safe and secure spaces for all people to enjoy. Online harm and extremism have long been a focus of the Secure Communities Forum: as such, we have created a national response model, drawing upon expertise from a wide variety of governmental and non-government stakeholders, including SUSS, to provide a roadmap for governments, communities and societies to understand and prevent online extremism. Online harm is a real and tangible harm, and by ensuring digital spaces are protected and moderated, we can create inclusive environments in which everyone can thrive.”

Mr Dennis Ooi, SCOGA President, said, “It is an honour for SCOGA to participate in this symposium. As a SUSS alumnus, I am thrilled to witness the realisation of this important initiative. We are excited to collaborate with all our partners on this forward-thinking platform for knowledge-sharing. Together, we aim to deepen our understanding of video games, esports and gamers, and to actively contribute to creating safer online spaces for everyone.”

The symposium programme focused on fostering digital literacy and critical thinking among gamers to challenge extremist ideologies within gaming spaces and nurturing collaboration between academia, the public sector, industry players and gaming communities. Key topics addressed across the series of keynotes, panel discussions and workshops include deep dives into how hate speech and extremist ideologies can infiltrate online gaming communities, the impact of gaming on vulnerable populations, how women gamers can be empowered against intimidation and most importantly, what can be done to mitigate negative impacts.

An interactive workshop led by SUSS, including student leaders from the Public Safety and Security Programme Interest Group, also gathered participants from the audience to brainstorm and share specific recommendations about how gamers can help prevent hate over online games. Key recommendations and findings from the workshop were presented to the audience before the end of the symposium.

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