2021 has seen a significant increase in certain types of harassment in online gaming spaces, according to a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League conducted in cooperation with Newzoo.
The survey covered more than 2,200 US gamers under the age of 45 who play online multiplayer games, including nearly 550 between the ages of 13 and 17.
While 99% of respondents said they had some form of positive social experience while playing online games, it was clear that for many their experiences were not uniformly positive.
83% of adults said they had been harassed while gambling online in the past six months, while 60% of the teenage cohort said the same.
The most common form of identity-based harassment was aimed at women, as in previous years the ADL conducted such a survey. However, the percentage of people reporting harassment has increased from 41% of women last year to 49% this year.
Other groups that saw an increase in identity-based harassment were Black gamers (42% this year vs. 31% last year) and Asian gamers (38% vs. 26%).
This identity-based harassment occurred despite the fact that 37% of people in protected groups say they always hide their identity when gambling online, and a further 37% say they do so sometimes.
As for which games caused the most problems, Valorant and Dota 2 topped the list for the second year in a row, with 79% and 78% of players reporting harassment in-game, respectively.
Minecraft was the game with the lowest percentage of players reporting harassment, but even then it was a 46% shared experience. That was long before the second-lowest title for harassment, Rocket League, made progress in increasing the percentage of gamers experiencing harassment from 76% last year to 59% this year.
The percentage of gamers who said they stopped playing certain games due to disruptive player behavior also increased for the second year in a row, up to 27% from 22% last year.
Valorant and Call of Duty shared the title of most player distancing, with 42% of players in each game saying they became more cautious or stopped playing them altogether due to the behavior they experienced in games.
The survey also reported increasing cases of doxing (personally identifiable information made public) and swatting (a stranger making a false statement to emergency services about someone). Last year, 13% of respondents said they had been doxed and 12% said they had been crushed. This year the figures were 22% and 20%.
The ADL acknowledged that it included responses from players who “reported something similar to either behavior or preferred not to elaborate.” It also included quotes from four different survey respondents that fit the usual concept of the terms.
As for what can be done to improve these numbers in the future, the ADL recommends that game publishers publish regular and consistent transparency reports on hate and harassment in their communities and submit to independent audits. their content moderation practices.
The group also called for some sort of ESRB-style audit to give people metrics about toxicity and extremism in online games that people could use to make informed decisions. Additionally, the ADL noted the prevalence of toxic workplace stories, saying they can normalize attitudes about unacceptable behaviors that eventually reflect in what’s allowed in games.
Within the games themselves, the ADL wants to see better content moderation tools for voice chat and reporting systems and employees to provide live, real-time assistance to targets of serious harassment.