A study has shed light on how many players have experienced harassment and hate while playing online games, and it is a surprisingly high number. Still, it is encouraging to see that evil has been balanced (at least to some extent) by positive interactions, such as the flourishing of friendships and the search for acceptable communities.
The study, which was published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and conducted with the help of Newzoo, is based on survey responses from more than 1,000 adults. Explore “the social interactions and experiences of video game players throughout the United States and details their attitudes and behaviors in a rapidly growing social space.” As for the results, the ADL says that the large number of players who report harassment “should stop the industry.”
The numbers are not very encouraging. 74 percent of respondents reported that they had suffered harassment, and 65 percent updated it to severe harassment. 67 percent also report that they are called names, 50 percent were discriminated against and 44 percent were physically threatened, and yes, I must admit that that sounds accurate because of my own experiences and those of my friends. Of the fifteen games on the list, the game of which the players reported most harassment was Dota 2, closely followed by CS: GO and Overwatch. Dota 2 was also the game with the highest number of players who abandoned due to harassment.
The demographic group that reported the greatest harassment were women (38 percent), which seems correct in my experience. Women who play games in general are often subjected to sexual harassment and anger from other players. Twitch’s Streamers recently conducted a campaign against harassment called “SlutStream” to raise awareness about the types of evil women often face while playing. The second most frequent goals were LGBTQ + players.
But there is some light at the end: almost all respondents (88 percent) reported having had positive experiences while playing as well. “Positive” in this case means making friends, discovering new interests, feeling part of a community or helping other players. Again, that has also been my experience.
Even so, the balance between the two can oscillate both ways. According to the ADL findings, 97 percent of players who dropped out or avoided a game due to harassment also had positive experiences. Then they experienced the advantages of the community, but it was not enough to keep them with the game.
As a possible solution, the ADL recommends that game developers develop a system that qualifies or warns about the online community of their games. While that sounds like an admirable effort, it would be difficult for developers to be objective enough to judge their own community. In addition, it often takes a while after the release of a game before the collective attitude crystallizes.
The ADL also recommended further research on how this harassment affects vulnerable people such as LGBTQ + players.