Unfortunately, online gaming isn’t always fun. Harassment has become prevalent among the biggest PC multiplayer titles, according to a new study from the Anti-Defamation League.
The study found that 65 percent of online gamers have experienced “severe harassment” from other players. This can take the form of physical threats of violence, sexual harassment, racism, and “doxing,” or when your personal information is publicized in a game chat.
Another problem is propaganda from hate groups. “Alarmingly, nearly a quarter of players (23 percent) are exposed to discussions about white supremacist ideology and almost one in ten (9 percent) are exposed to discussions about Holocaust denial in online multiplayer games,” the ADL’s report said.
The study also set out to find out which games have become hotbeds for harassment. But to some extent, they all have. “For every one of the 15 online games included in the survey, at least half of players reported they had experienced some form of harassment,” the ADL said.
Valve’s Dota 2 is at the top of the list with 79 percent of the survey respondents having reported harassment while playing the game. In second place is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 75 percent.
The ADL based its study on online responses taken from 1,045 adult gamers in the US who play across multiple platform including PC, console, and mobile. However, the survey went out of its way to “oversample” players who were LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, African American, and Hispanic to better understand the impact harassment has on minority groups.
The results found that a lot of the harassment is identity-based; 38 percent of women and 35 percent of LGBTQ players reported harassment on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation.
“Nearly two-thirds of US adults play games online, yet there are significant problems with hate, harassment, and discrimination,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “At ADL, we see online multiplayer games as social platforms, and we need to fight hate on these platforms with the same seriousness as traditional social media.”
The study’s goal is to quantify the problems to help the gaming industry take action. Among the recommendations is that game developers use better content moderation and policies to stop the discrimination and hate speech. Overall, most of the harassment the ADL’s survey found occurred via voice- and text-based chats within the games. According to ADL, the games should also come with rating labels indicating the adult nature of the product’s online community.
Despite the problems, the ADL’s study found that an overwhelming majority of the respondents, at 88 percent, reported positive experiences while gaming online. This can include making friends, discovering new interests, and feeling like they belonged in a community. The top games associated with positive social experiences were World of Warcraft, Minecraft, NBA2K, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The harassment players experience can also go both ways. About a third of the survey takers admitted to calling other players offensive names and engaging in trolling. And 22 percent said they’ve threatened and discriminated against other players.
“Consistent with their experiences, roughly half of players see online multiplayer games as both positive social spaces (49 percent) and having widespread toxicity (55 percent). A majority of players (62 percent) feel that companies should do more to make online games safer and more inclusive for players,” the study added.