Unfortunately, online games are not always fun. Harassment has become prevalent among top PC multiplayer titles, according to new research from the Anti-Defamation League.
The study found that 65% of online gamers have experienced “severe harassment” from other gamers. This can take the form of physical threats of violence, sexual harassment, racism and “doxing”, or when your personal information is posted in a game chat.
Another problem is the propaganda of hate groups. “Alarmingly, nearly a quarter of gamers (23%) are exposed to discussions of white supremacist ideology and almost one in ten (9%) are exposed to discussions of denial of it. ‘Holocaust in online multiplayer games,’ according to the ADL report.
The study also aimed to find out which games have become hotbeds of harassment. But to some extent, they all did. “For each of the 15 online games included in the survey, at least half of the players said they had experienced some form of harassment,” ADL said.
Valve’s Dota 2 tops the list with 79% of survey respondents reporting harassment while playing. In second place is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 75%.
ADL based its study on online responses from 1,045 adult gamers in the United States who play on multiple platforms, including PC, console and mobile. However, the survey sought to “oversample” LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, African American and Hispanic gamers in order to better understand the impact of harassment on minority groups.
The results revealed that much of the harassment is based on identity; 38 percent of women and 35 percent of LGBTQ gamers reported harassment on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation.
“Almost two-thirds of American adults play online games, but there are significant issues of 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 networks. “
The aim of the study is to quantify the problems to help the gaming industry take action. One of the recommendations is that game developers use better moderation of content and policies to end discrimination and hate speech. Overall, most of the harassment that the ADL investigation revealed happened through voice and text chats in games. According to ADL, games should also come with rating labels indicating the adult nature of the product’s online community.
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Despite the problems, the ADL study found that an overwhelming majority of respondents, 88%, reported positive experiences while gambling online. This can include making new friends, discovering new interests, and feeling part of a community. The best games associated with positive social experiences were World of Warcraft, Minecraft, NBA2K, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The experience of stalking players can also go both ways. About a third of those interviewed admitted to calling other players offensive names and engaging in trolling. And 22% said they threatened and discriminated against other players.
“Based on their experiences, around half of gamers see online multiplayer games as both positive social spaces (49%) and widespread toxicity (55%). A majority of gamers (62%) think businesses should do more to make online games safer and more inclusive for gamers, ”the study adds.
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