2021 has seen a significant increase in certain types of harassment in online gaming spaces, according to a new Anti-Defamation League survey 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 those surveyed said they had some form of positive social experience playing online games, it was clear that for many their experiences were not uniformly positive.
83% of adults said they had been bullied while gambling online in the past six months, while 60% of the teenage cohort said the same.
The most common form of identity harassment was aimed at women, just like in previous years the ADL conducted such an investigation. However, the percentage of people who report being the victim of harassment has increased from 41% of women last year to 49% this year.
The 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 has occurred despite the fact that 37% of people in protected groups say they always hide their identity when playing online, and 37% of others say they do. sometimes do.
As for the games that caused the most problems, Valorant and Dota 2 topped the list for the second year in a row, with 79% and 78% of players respectively reporting in-game harassment.
Minecraft was the game with the smallest percentage of players reporting harassment, but even then it was an experience shared by 46%. It was well ahead of the next lowest stalking title, Rocket League, which made headway in increasing the percentage of players being harassed from 76% last year to 59% this year.
The percentage of gamers who reported stopping playing certain games due to disruptive player behavior also increased for the second year in a row, reaching 27% from 22% last year.
Valorant and Call of Duty shared the title to hunt most gamers, with 42% of players in each game saying they either became more careful or stopped playing them altogether due to the behavior they had experienced in the games. games.
The investigation also reported growing cases of doxing (personally identifiable information made public) and swatting (a stranger making a false report to emergency services about someone). Last year, 13% of those polled said they had been doxed and 12% said they had been beaten. 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 who preferred not to develop.” 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, ADL recommends that game publishers publish regular and consistent transparency reports on hate and harassment in their communities and submit to independent audits. of their content moderation practices.
The group also called for some sort of ESRB-type audit to give people metrics on toxicity and extremism in online games that could be used by people to make informed decisions. Additionally, the ADL noted the prevalence of stories in toxic workplaces, claiming they can normalize attitudes towards unacceptable behavior that ends up being reflected in what is allowed in games.
Within the games themselves, 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.