Tech companies want to tackle harassment in games
Competitive CounterStrike: Global Offensive Player Adam Bahriz will likely kill you in the game. He’s so talented that he landed a contract with Team Envy, an esports organization that is home to some of North America’s top-ranked competitive esports players. Bahriz is also deaf and legally blind, with a condition known as HSAN 8.
“What do you guys wanna do?” Have you just released A? I can buy smoke, ”says Bahriz. His teammates immediately jumped on him to make fun of him and silenced him. “You’re just going to be blocked,” said one of them. “We know you are trolling,” said another. “So boring.” “You are already muted. “
“OK, I won’t speak, sorry,” he said resignedly.
Bahriz goes the rest of the game in silence and even begins to cry, revealing the very real and powerful effects that bullying has on players who experience it. That’s all that’s wrong with the toxic gambling culture, where slurs are free, bullying happens on a regular basis, and everything from racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and more, is a fair game. “This incident made me feel very depressed,” Bahriz tells me. “I just want to have fun playing a game, but a speech impediment beyond my control makes it difficult. Bahriz says that eventually toxic teammates kicked him out of the game, and although “most of the time people are toxic, it’s rare to get kicked out of the game. That’s why it was so upsetting. You can silence toxic people, but you can’t stop your whole team from kicking you for no other reason than a speech problem.
In 2017, Twitch streamer Nicole Smith recorded the verbal abuse she suffered while playing Overwatch.
“Go back to the kitchen,” said a teammate.
“This is the reason why girls shouldn’t be doing anything,” added another.
“Can you really go and die?” “
Much like Bahriz, Smith faced an avalanche of insults, harassment and, in her case, misogynistic comments. The abuse Smith has to endure just to play video games is reminiscent of GamerGate, where the women of gaming and gaming journalism (as well as all who have spoken out in their defense) have endured for weeks, months, and in some cases. years of harassment, including death threats, doxing and stalking. This has led to changes in the gaming industry’s response to online harassment, with some game developers and publishers rolling out their own initiatives to tackle in-game toxicity, and much criticism of many. of those same publishers and developers for waiting for people’s lives to be in danger. take harassment seriously.
A 2020 Anti-Defamation League survey found that 81% of American adults were harassed in online multiplayer games, up from 74% in 2019, while 70% were called offensive names in online multiplayer games. , and 60% were the target of trolling or “deliberately”. and malicious attempts to provoke [other gamers] react negatively. Overall there was a 7% increase from 2019 to 2020.
For Bahriz, he doesn’t get as much abuse as he used to, but when he does, he usually mutes it and does his best “not to let the toxicity mentally distract the game,” he says. For others, however, simple mute doesn’t work, even though it’s available in the game they’re playing. In 2019, another ADL survey found that 22% of American adults harassed in online multiplayer games had quit playing certain games altogether because of the harassment.
Game developers want to fight back but on their terms
In 2017, Activision Blizzard, Epic, Intel, Microsoft, Twitch and over 200 other companies formed the Fair Play Alliance to, as its website says, “encourage fair play and healthy communities.” In 2018, Blizzard publicly named 180 Monitoring gamers banned for toxic behavior, including being abusive in audio conversations and deliberately launching games. Not bad for a game that didn’t even have the option to report abusive players when it was released in 2016. In 2019, Ubisoft issued instant half-hour bans for Rainbow Six Siege players if the company detected insults in the text chat. Ubisoft’s Code of Conduct states that this includes “any language or content deemed illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive or constituting harassment.” Also that year, Electronic Arts created a Players Council with an inaugural summit at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.