It’s no secret that online gaming can harbor toxic and abusive behavior. But a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says as many as many as two-thirds of US online gamers have experienced “severe” harassment. More than half of the respondents said they’ve been targeted based on their race, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Nearly 30 percent claim they’ve been doxxed in an online game, and nearly a quarter of respondents say they’ve been exposed to white supremacist ideology.
Past studies have suggested that online harassment is getting worse, and a similar ADL survey conducted earlier this year reported that 37 percent of Americans have experienced “severe” harassment online. It seems to be even more of an issue in online gaming, though, given that the current ADL survey found 65 percent of players experienced “severe” harassment.
While the survey findings aren’t definitive — ADL sampled about 1,000 people — the gaming community is aware that online gaming can lead to toxic behavior. Xbox head Phil Spencer recently laid out some measures to combat abuse, and Overwatch claims adding an endorsement featurereduced toxic behavior by 40 percent. Of course, while more can be done by individual companies, we also have to consider the root causes.