New survey points to increase in hate and harassment in online multiplayer games

    
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New survey points to increase in hate and harassment in online multiplayer games

The behavior of people in online games does not appear to be improving for the better. According to national survey results from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), people are experiencing an uptick in hateful and harassing behavior in their online multiplayer gaming day-to-day.

The survey took responses from a nationally representative segment of American players aged 18-45 in coordination with Newzoo, a data analytics firm focused on games and esports. The survey followed a similar methodology from one in 2019, allowing the data to look at year-over-year metrics, though in some cases the methodology was refined and so last year’s data were not able to be compared.

In summary, harassment in online games is up to 81% compared to 74% last year, with 68% of players experiencing elevated abuse including physical threats, stalking, and sustained harassment. An apparent 53% of people say they experienced harassment based on their identity, ethnicity, or their Muslim or Jewish faith, and there’s been an overall uptick in misinformation and hateful topics related to COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Holocaust.

The survey even named names of games experiencing increasingly hateful and harassing behavior: DOTA 2, Valorant, Rocket League, Hearthstone, and CS:GO are all pointed out as games that have the greatest number of harassing incidents.

So why not report offenses? According to survey respondents, 36% didn’t use in-game reporting tools believing that their reports weren’t enough, that the harassment wasn’t disruptive enough, or that harassment was a part of the game experience. That said, respondents found more effective means of curbing harassment, with 60% using team blocking features, 58% muting others, and another 58% playing games with people they trust.

It’s not all bad news, however, as the survey did find that there has been an increase in almost universally positive experiences such as making friends and helping others. That said, the ADL is still calling on the games industry to curb hate, and also suggests that civil society organizations should expand their work to include online games experiences and calls on federal and state legislators and agencies to strengthen and enforce laws that protect targets of online hate and harassment.

You can read the full results, along with survey methodology and other notes, on the ADL’s website.

sources: ADL.org, Twitter

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texyFX

the debate on toxicity is not analytical, but reactive. instead of analysing the origins of toxic/anti-social behavior, the reasons y some dehumanise (and mistreat) others in online environment, the discourse stops at recognising (and informing on the existance, but not the reasons of) an issue.

competitive online gaming, also PvE and team based MMOs have a competitive element (rankings, K/D etc), is an intergroup context. as M. Serif analysed in the Robbers Den experiment any division of a collective into factions (like castes, groups etc) will result in hostility. one group alienates the other for group identity and any further rewards.

this also works on an individual basis, there is always a referenced in-group (in any individual action/decision etc).
in fact, identity in (post)modern sociology and psychology is understood as a concept of differenciating from others: iam, cuz iam not u. which is a negative, cuz delimiting relation. altough every human being has more in common than differences, those subtle nuances r hyperfocussed (exxagerated) into a diverging point: we at least could agree to disagree? but some dont.

this brief excourse into the origins of performance society (class) ranking psychology raises many questions, the industry (and also gaming culture) ignorantly refuses to ask, although UX is an integral part of AAA game design.
ignorantly, cuz these questions force everyone to look beyond not exclusive their own limitations, but overall societies basic mechanism: class warfare (Klassenkampf) and therefore performance society is not a trendy topic.

cuz those questions touch the integral taboos, which question the actual state of society and the self-understanding of any individual.
MMOs r just as toxic as performance society is, maybe often on a more open and unmasked level, but in a class society even in in-groups everyone is the enemy.
and the worst, most dangerous and most brutal enemy usually is the self.

the industry is not exclusively responsible in providing means for hostility, but is responsible in ignoring their responsibility and impact.
its also the users responsibility to not dehumanise, but to respect others, cuz we all r society. although our impact on the major decision is non-existant, the individual still may decide to not fall victim to intergroup contexts (and class warfare).

games should be much more inclusive and in their competitive aspect dimensionally more collaborative, so eg. that losing feels like a mutual victory, cuz both parties had fun, maybe learned something?

an utopian perspective though, as performance pressure will exclusively increase in the future. as the capitalist cycle has to constantly accellerate the production process for more profit, otherwise this multi-level-marketing system would collapse.
will increase until (the) people regain control of society and themselves*.

games (as any art) r a reflection of society and the people, who form it.

personally hostility is rare in any of my environments, majority of contacts is nice, kind and friendly. but then iam a caucasian white athlete, who doesnt hesitate (after some friendly or at least neutral deescalation) to use the ignore list (global ignore ftw) or directly switch to offense. cuz i dont allow anyone to disrespect me, not even myself.

*it demands more than a basic shift in power (and distribution structure) though, but that is for an essay

Andy Turner
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Andy Turner

The pitiable overflow of poison one may read from his neighbor these days gives true insight to the depravity of man’s last stand: the online argument; where neither physical strength nor shrewd intelligence can quell the monstrous, foaming, frothing, spitting humankind bent on either a) passive aggressive deriding or b) outright hurtful remarks while chest-beating. And it’s all due to an arbitrary cocktail of statistics that live on servers that will die one day.

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Thomas

It seems to me there’s also been an uptick in (hyper?)sensitivity. People seem to be awfully quick to babble inanities in chat, but then other people are just as quick to rise to the bait and (over?)react. Sometimes I suspect players spew stuff they don’t even believe just to “stir the pot.”

Whenever I see the faintest mention of politics, religion, etc., in general chat I think “Oh, here we go–I am NOT doing this”, and I scurry to shut chat off altogether.

I enjoy playing MMOs, but only if I can play them as “quiet” single-player games. Most MMOs, fortunately, are eminently playable and thoroughly enjoyable with “Chat Mute” enabled. :)

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Castagere Shaikura

The first rule for any online MMO’s is to turn off general and off-topic chats. Or if you can turn it off altogether. The only chat I have up is for friends or guilds. If I can’t solo in an MMO today I won’t play it.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Some games classify what is written by people in your ‘local’ (Nearby) chat as ‘general’ chat, so if you come across someone in a MMO world, and they aren’t speaking to you, it’s possibly because you’ve turned those features off and can’t see them talking to you, greeting you, or even just saying ‘Hi’, so I wonder how you ‘make friends’ or have a ‘guild’ if you can’t even hear anyone because you’ve effectively hit ‘Mute all’ on everyone around you. I mean, yeah, bring RL friends in and play with them, but how will you ever know whether you missed a decent person along the way if you just silence any chance of them conversing with you?

It’s one reason I almost exclusively never use ‘Ignore’ or ‘mute’ features, or save them for the very worst offenders known to exist.

One of the ‘joke’ things that turned into a common refrain on most streamer’s chats nowadays is the ‘KEK’, which originated from World of Warcraft’s faction based restrictions that basically turned anything ‘the other’ faction said into ‘kek’. So people would be saying long lines of text at each-other/bad-mouthing each-other on their screens, but literally all you as the opposing faction saw….was a ‘kek’ bubble above the head. After awhile, people began figuring this out, and it became a ‘meme’ later down the road, and is used in many forms to connote amusement nowadays. But imagine everything you’ve been saying just reduced to nothing, that’s ‘kek’. That’s what you’re doing, you’re silencing people from even having an opinion so all you hear, is your own reflected back at you.

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Rndomuser

The behavior of people in online games does not appear to be improving for the better.

Why would it? The behavior of people in online games is just a reflection of their personality, influenced by real world events. When I tried logging into a WoW’s retail server a week ago, I immediately saw all these political-related conversations in Trade chat in every zone’s populated city or area. Which also inevitably progressed into racism, sexism and xenophobia. Can’t do much about it if people in real life are being bombarded with that every day from every news media and the social media they subscribe to, even if it is people like me who just follows some streamers and some players who like to play some online games and some artists who post cool art on Twitter and Discord and does not follow any people who post political BS all the time. Only thing you can really do is to keep adding people to personal ignore lists, report them (if their offense is not acceptable according to ToS) and just avoid games which attract most of such people.

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Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

And people wonder why I prefer to solo in mmos….

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I’ve noticed a lot of uptick in it PERSONALLY.

Bunch of people who will rant in ‘general’ chat for hours about their love of X subject, and if anyone questions them/doesn’t agree, they’ll get other people in the chat to jump all over you. It’s like the modern day form of ‘rabble rousers’, attempting to crush dissent/spread their disgusting thought process.

Reminds me of the ‘Faith Militant’ idea on GoT…where they used people to go around and smash anyone’s head in who disagreed…

But occasionally, enough people will show up to stand against their process, and the tide will turn and the conversation will go a different way for awhile. (Usually because said troll has moved to another location to repeat the behavior there, to get more reinforcement for their echo chamber.)

It’s like people can’t handle their belief system being called into question nowadays…and are ‘stuck’ in one mode.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

I don’t respond to ‘general chat’ screeds- don’t feed the trolls. If there’s an ignore function, I use it. If the idiot in the town square is spewing anything actionable according to the game’s code of conduct, I report them.

Thanks to EVE Online’s game mechanics, I’ve been able to show really obnoxious ranters that their actions have consequences by either hunting them myself, or contracting with mercenaries to repeatedly, relentlessly, show them the error of their ways.

TBH I no longer have the energy to deal with rampant asshats IRL or online, and play in solo mode largely ignoring chat.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

The problem with the whole ‘don’t feed the trolls’ idea, is that people won’t confront their ideas anymore, and so their ideas are proliferating and more and more people are being convinced of them, even though they are stupid and wrong ideas oftentimes.

America is currently suffering the effects of years of that type of mentality…’Just let em think stupid things and it won’t come back to bite us in the arse!’ Except it is, biting hard.

I’ve never subscribed to the ‘let em continue/just ignore them’ and call out a lot of nonsense I see (And it’s turned into many an interesting conversation over the years, as others jump in to defend my point when the troll starts snapping at me.).

I mean, I too have become tired of fighting a losing fight, and often go solo too, but every once in awhile, there’s a glimmer of hope still to be found out there.

I avoid PvP altogether because of the toxicity involved therein.

I’ve also noticed most report functions are just ‘placebos’ put in to make you think they care, but they literally never do anything about them. I would report bot trains I’d see, and come back hours/days later, and find them still going…so I rarely waste my time with report features nowadays.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

Sadly unsurprising. Reminds me of @Darius Sessoms’ recent post about blatantly racist character name and chat in Destiny 2 going on for days despite multiple reports.

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Arktouros

That’s a Steam issue as well because all your account names are based on what shows in Steam. Like on Xbox I show my Xbox account name not my Steam Name inside Destiny 2.

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Travis In Canada

Who would have thought there were Ahole people out there in the world (?) Its almost like we have all been getting along all peachy keen this whole time and now the internet, social media and video games have turned a specific demographic into jerks!

Damn you technology and your evil way!

Reality check people, there is a jerk in ALL of us. I’m not saying you are one I am saying you can be one. And if you are gonna sit there and try to deny that, than congratulations you are not only a Jerk but a liar too.

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styopa

It’s not just in gaming, it’s systemic. I’d point to social media and universal anonymity as prime culprits, but that’s not all.

Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” does a FANTASTIC JOB imo of exploring and explaining a world that’s evolved from say the 1960s where the bulk of American society* was bifurcated left/right sure, but the huge majority of the populace nevertheless agreed on basic concepts of things like education and patriotism…to our Manichean world of 2020 where everything is politically weighted, and tossed into “I am for this” or “I am against this” on that basis, with everyone toeing the line for their faction.**
Part of that has to do with social relationships, ie what’s expressed here in gaming and abuse/harassment.

It’s not just one side; if you think it is, you’re part of the problem.
If I said I’m a proud transgender/queer activist here, I would get waves of affirmative support and – insofar as the mods couldn’t catch it fast enough – attacks from haters.
If I said MAGA Trump might still win! To the degree that mods agree or not, I would get likely lesser waves of affirmative support and – insofar as the mods would stop it – attacks from haters.

Neither should be acceptable. But sadly, we excuse and rationalize “our side” doing it meanwhile attacking the “other”. It’s entirely normalized today.

*at the significant – today we’d say unacceptable – cost of marginalizing other segments, sometimes brutally.
** In point of fact, J. Haidt is (as he describes himself) unapologetically a member of the coastal liberal elite (and remains so to this day) who delved into the subject trying to comprehend how conservatives could possibly disagree with what he believed were self-evident truths.
EDIT: And I do realize the world is much bigger than the USA. Unfortunately, we seem to be leading the pack into this future, whether it’s raging online factionalism, or expanding beltlines. You’ll all eventually be us, sorry.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

(just to be clear, this was sarcastic)

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styopa

comment image

(I do really recommend Haidt’s book, though.)

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Arktouros

I dunno I’ve been online for 20+ years and people have always been just as toxic if not more so back in the day. One of my first experiences of all this was playing Duke Nukem 3D on a local bulletin board system (BBS) before the internet was widespread and some guy cussed me out in game chat for minutes because of my use of laser trip mines. I mean I laughed with glee because, ya know “u mad” but it’s always been a part of the experience. Some people just lose badly and never developed or were never taught good ways to deal with competitive stress and frustration.

Our “Manichean world of 2020” just gives people a broader target to attack. If things are portrayed as black and white you only gotta “bet” on one or the other you have a good chance of hitting your mark.

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styopa

I don’t disagree with you that at least some of the toxicity was there.

Of course, 25 years ago if someone called you something derogatory after you killed him in Quake, it was considered healthy and reasonable if you laughed it off or ignored it and moved on to the next round…one didn’t then dwell on/tweet about/vlog which perceived victim-clade one could insist had been mortally harmed.

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Axetwin .

And that is why things are the way they are today. Because people like you thought it was “funny” and “healthy” to unabashedly drop derogatory insults in chat. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean it was ever good in the first place.

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styopa

It’s hardly my fault you’re an emotional featherweight.

Did I say it was funny or healthy to make such comments? Nope, not even slightly.

But perhaps there are a number of people who need to put on their big-kid pants and recognize that words only hurt you if you let them.

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Bruno Brito

But perhaps there are a number of people who need to put on their big-kid pants and recognize that words only hurt you if you let them.

Why? Why is that instead of holding the idiots that say the hurtful words are held to societal standards, we keep holding the victims to those standards?

I was a victim of bullying and i had to shatter a window to stop 30 people on a class laughing at me. Why do you think we should take silently this bullshit?

Any moron is aware that it’s because of this “take everything silently and absorb it like a big boy” approach that men have terrible suicide rates. This shit sticks with you, and just because YOU are some kind of immunity beacon, doesn’t mean everyone else is.

Nor should they be.

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styopa

Why is it either/or?

Why not hold the morons to a higher standard AND help people who are the targets of such words that they have the ability to take away the power of such words by ignoring them?

Why encourage people to believe that they’re powerless before the words of others?

Being laughed at is no fun. Being embarrassed is unpleasant. But I doubt you’ll find many adults who haven’t, at some point in their lift, been humiliated, embarrassed, or the object of ridicule at one time or another. It’s the emotional equivalent of stubbing your toe – I’m sorry if I doubt that you’re going to be able to bubble-wrap the world and prevent it ever happening.

I’m not in any way condoning bullying or this sort of immature language; I’m not sure the repeated implications in this thread that I am doing so, are genuine misunderstandings that they believe “ignore it” = “it’s FINE AND ENCOURAGED”, or if they’re just ardently woke people arguing strawmen because that’s the internet in 2020.

I just don’t see any reason to give a-holes power. Reacting gives them what they seek, and that sort of person really is only going to be validated by official sanction – they’re not going to change their spots.

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Robert Mann

No, if anyone should put on their big-kid pants, it is the people who cannot find a better way to deal with their frustrations. They should be adult enough to step away, instead of playing and attacking other people at that point.

Where words can be brushed aside, that does not mean the experience, or that such use, is good or acceptable. It certainly doesn’t make it funny or cause for celebration.

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styopa

I don’t disagree with you – you’re right, people who use such comments are immature morons.

Nor did I say or imply that the use of such words is acceptable, funny, nor cause for celebration (fairly hyperbolic, even for you).

What I said was: it is ENTIRELY within the target person (victim, if you want to elevate it to that) to ignore such comments. It is, that’s a fact.

By weeping and wailing and gnashing teeth over it, you are giving the immature morons who use such taunts specifically to get a rise out of you EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. They *want* to hurt your feelings, so by overreacting (or, reacting at all) you are catering to their twisted needs.

Why would someone do that? Why give them what they want?

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Robert Mann

I agree, you didn’t say that. I chose to ignore the idea that somebody feeling hurt meant… what you DID choose to say. I am continuing to ignore it. I believe you had good intent, but bad form there. Instead I was noting in general so many of the responses that get thrown at people offering such a variety of excuses.

Ignore it? No, that’s just going to keep the status quo. At the same time, I agree with not wailing in front of the person. I do, however, believe that applying consequence to behavior is the normal social standard. It’s why government and laws exist to begin with (even if those are highly imperfect and corrupted, the base reason is logical).

Not reacting does not change what is. It does not help anyone. It merely means you spend time immersed in the filth that such people spew, and that others will continue to be exposed to said filth. Given that we have decided that nose punching (or remote access destroying their hardware) is not an acceptable practice, the remaining response is to find another avenue of consequence. That is why there is demand, not merely wailing and whining in front of these people, for change. That is the recourse available for those who wish to avoid either just stewing in the morass or hitting back, and it is not somehow unjustified or emotionally weak to take that avenue in dealing with the problem. Denying it as a problem because ‘words only hurt if you let them’ is what is not justified as an answer.

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Axetwin .

Spoken like the White boy who’s screaming into the void because you can’t openly use the N-word anymore.

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styopa

Because I think that a person can ignore hurtful comments and refuse to give power to people who make them, you believe I’m a racist that wants to use the N-word?

Sure, that’s a logical conclusion.

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Bruno Brito

I think you had the right idea, Sty. I just think Mann is right, it’s bad execution.

Reality is, words will keep hurting. People are not robots who can choose to ignore certain feedback and pretend it doesn’t hurt you. Everything you hear, you absorb, be it consciously, or inconsciously.

You won’t be able to create what you say, people simply don’t work like that, and no one should have to “be less sensitive” just because they’ll get hurt more. It’s not on them to be less sensitive, we NEED more sensitive people. It’s on the ones who hurt, to hurt less.

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Robert Mann

There’s actually an interesting counter-point to this. The people who reject both extremes are the vast majority, and those who strongly reject them are the fastest growing group overall.

That said, out of those, most still voted one side or the other, beholden to the old ‘lesser of two evils’ argument, despite having more than two choices. It’s an interesting look into psychology and how fear of what other people want can drive us, if nothing else.

Personally, I think we all have more in common than people express, and if we actually talked about things without the encumbrance of prior group bias the amount of agreement would be fun to witness. It’s just very difficult to separate people from that group bias, and get down to what they really believe.

Anyway, toast to all the awesome people regardless of where anyone sits, be kind and remember that there’s a whole complex world with points all over the place that are correct, and often enough ones that are completely false under each factional/tribalistic banner.