(July 25, 2019 / JNS) Sixty-five percent of gamers have experienced severe harassment while playing games online, which includes physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment, while 74 percent of online multiplayers have experienced some form of harassment, with 9 percent of them being exposed to Holocaust denial, according to a report released on Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League.
Among online-game players who experienced harassment, 53 percent reported being targeted based on their race, religion, ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or ethnicity. An alarming 29 percent of online-game players have been doxed in an online game, meaning that their personal or private information was publicly exposed against their wishes.
“Video games are an important and extremely popular form of entertainment. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults play games online, yet there are significant problems with hate, harassment and discrimination,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “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—and for us that starts with quantifying the problem through studies like this.”
The survey also found that online-game players had been exposed to extremist ideologies and hateful propaganda.
Twenty-three percent of respondents reported being exposed to discussions about white supremacy through online games, 8 percent reported being exposed to pro-Islamic State statements and 13 percent to disinformation about the Sept. 11 terror attacks, among other topics.
“Online hate causes real harm,” said Greenblatt. “Every time someone in an online multiplayer game physically threatens or harasses another player repeatedly because of who they are or what they believe, that experience doesn’t just end for that individual when the game is over.”
“That’s why it’s imperative for industry leaders and policymakers to take action to prevent this poisonous ecosystem from overflowing and causing additional harm,” he added.
Sixty-two percent of online multiplayer gamers believe that companies should do more to make games safer and more inclusive for players, and more than 55 percent feel games should have technology that allows for content moderation of in-game voice chat.
The survey sheds light on the lasting impact of online harassment on targets. For instance, 38 percent of online multiplayer gamers have become more careful about choosing their online partners out of concern for harassment, while 27 percent have changed the way they play out of concern for harassment. In addition, 23 percent of online multiplayer gamers who have been harassed avoid certain games due to a game’s reputation for having a hostile environment, and 19 percent have stopped playing certain games altogether as a result of in-game harassment.
However, the positive aspects of digital social spaces that exist inside online games include opportunities to connect, build friendships and communities, and learn.
Eighty-eight percent of online multiplayer gamers have experienced some form of positive social interaction while playing online multiplayer games, including making friends (51 percent) or helping other players (50 percent).
This most recent survey comes on the heels of an ADL survey released earlier this year that looked at the experience of users on social-media platforms, and found that more than one-third of Americans experienced severe online hate and harassment, including sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats or sustained harassment.