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More Cases of Harassment Surface in Gaming Industry

With movements calling for social reforms from #MeToo and #BLM, many people in the Gaming Community are taking to social media to address a problem that has plagued the industry for years... Harassment, and all its many forms. For most, playing online games is an entertaining opportunity to engage in a virtual world of nearly limitless experiences. Often times those experiences are enjoyed with friends and even strangers they meet online. However, as in the real world, not all interactions we have with others will be positive, and in some cases, those interactions with strangers can be harassing and abusive. It is notably worse for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color who are routinely the target of discriminatory and abusive attacks. In fact, a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) from 2019 reported that 74% of the Gamers surveyed had experienced some form of harassment online, with 65% of respondents describing that harassment as 'severe'. Furthermore, 53% of those experiencing harassment said they were targeted for their 'race, religion, ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.' For those that have been gaming online since Halo 2's glory days (2004-2006'ish), this is likely not a surprise. Harassment and various forms of abuse have been an ongoing issue that seem to end with minimal to no change from the industry, at least until now...

So what's happening? In recent weeks, hundreds of people have been coming forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, sexual assault, and racism. Their stories are being posted and shared across Social Media in an effort to bring awareness to the problem and hold abusers accountable. In some cases, allegations have warranted the involvement of local authorities where investigations are currently ongoing, Twitch, the largest Streaming platform in the Gaming Industry, released an update last week on the status of their investigations from reports involving their users. From their blog, they state they have "prioritized the most severe cases and will begin issuing permanent suspensions in line with their findings immediately...In some cases, we will need to report the case to the proper authorities". Additionally, they have also stated that work is underway to review their Hateful Conduct and Harassment policies, enhance their offensive username detection, and make improvements to their AutoMod and Banned Words list which is designed to help moderate content on their platform.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, many more steps will be needed from community and industry leaders to influence significant and lasting change in addressing these issues. In the meantime, we hope those leaders will be listening and taking action to support those speaking out.

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