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WHTM Survey: 100% of KotakuInAction commenters don’t give a shit about rampant harassment in online gaming

Cat troubled by harassment in online gaming

By David Futrelle

If you ever wonder why online gaming culture is such a complete shitshow, it’s not because it’s dominated by angry teenagers who think it’s fun to call other players “f*ggots” and possibly even send SWAT teams to their houses. These people could easily be banned, No, the real problem is that so many adult gamers either don’t give a shit about the rampant harassment or think it’s actually pretty cool.

Consider, for example, the reaction of Reddit’s KotakuInAction to a report from the Anti-Defamation League suggesting that the overwhelming majority of online game players faced harassment, much of it severe and prolonged abuse that went beyond name calling to violent threats, stalking and even doxing.

You might have expected that even in the KotakuInAction subreddit — which still identifies itself as “the main hub for GamerGate on Reddit” — there would be some small number of commenters who would find this at least a teensy bit disturbing. But when I looked in on a thread devoted to the topic today, there were 56 comments up and not a single one of them suggested that all this harassment might be, you know, a bad thing. In other words, according to my completely unscientific survey, 100 percent of them don’t give a shit.

Instead, some commenters minimized and misrepresented the study’s results; others mocked the victims of harassment; still others more or less reveled in the toxic culture portrayed. A few posted neutral comments and jokes. But no one stood up to take issue with the culture of harassment.

The ADL’s findings are genuinely distressing:

Seventy-four percent of adults who play online multiplayer games in the US experience some form of harassment while playing games online. Sixty-five percent of players  experience some form of severe harassment, including physical threats, stalking, and sustained harassment. Alarmingly, nearly a third of online multiplayer gamers (29%) have been doxed.

Much of this harassment seems to have been motivated by some form of bigotry — from misogyny to racism.

Fifty-three percent of online multiplayer gamers who experience harassment believe they were targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation. Thirty-eight percent of women and 35 percent of LGBTQ+ players reported harassment on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation, respectively. Approximately a quarter to a third of players who are black or African American (31%), Hispanic/Latinx (24%) and Asian-American (23%) experienced harassment because of their race or ethnicity in an online multiplayer game. Online multiplayer gamers were also targeted because of their religion: 19 percent of Jews and Muslims also reported being harassed.3

So how did KiA commenters respond?

By dismissing those complaining of harassment as wimps:

They are privileged coddled children in adult bodies who need to spend extended time in the wild without help or support.

By telling victims to suck it up:

Be adult. Get called f*ggot by online stranger.

Mute.

Thats being an adult.

By suggesting that getting harassed was actually a badge of honor:

You’re not online gaming right if you’re not getting called a f*ggot.

By suggesting that the whole point of online gaming is to make others miserable:

If the person I’m playing against online is having fun, I’m not having fun.

By encouraging those who get harassed to harass back:

Get called f*ggot by online stranger.

Call him the same.

By dismissing harassment as little more than meaningless “name calling.”

I don’t even think they know what harassment is. Calling someone a name and not making a continuous campaign of it is not harassment. It’s just being rude. Now what some of bluechecks do to Trump is harassment.

By literally declaring that “boys will be boys.”

its not harassment, its called smack talk and its just what guys do to each other to stop our egos getting out of control.

Or “kids will be kids.”

74% of adults get harassed by 12 year olds who like to smack-talk because that shit’s funny when you’re 12.

This is kids being kids. If anything it’s a parenting problem, not a society problem.

The game industry could take steps to significantly reduce the amount of harassment in online gaming. But they won’t, not so long as there is such a loud and vociferous pro-harassment lobby out there, on Reddit and elsewhere.

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Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

OK, I’ma step out and say, this is what white conservative males are socialized to do. I believe the single most important thing trump offered to the bigot base was(is) the promise of making it again socially acceptable for white people to publicly abuse those whom they hold as “other”

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
2 years ago

Seems like white males of every stripe are socialized to do this. 🙁

[Not saying that white males can’t or won’t resist it, but the socialization seems to be everywhere.]

Lukas Xavier
Lukas Xavier
2 years ago

When faced with a problem, ignore it and send it off to be someone else’s problem.

That’s being an adult. Apparently.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
2 years ago

I always love the “It’s just kids being kids” argument.

Yes, it is. Point is, kids are monsters. The whole point of child-rearing is to break them of the habit of being monsters.

“Kids being kids” is not a good thing.

(Obviously, I’m exaggerating for rhetoric’s sake. #NotAllKids.)

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
2 years ago

If anything it’s a parenting problem, not a society problem.

… Are they trying to claim that parenting isn’t part of society?

Amy E
Amy E
2 years ago

So…it’s adult to accept being called f****t without comment; and to actually call people names like this? Is that adult as well?

personalpest
personalpest
2 years ago

If the person I’m playing against online is having fun, I’m not having fun.

Yet another reminder that “the cruelty is the point”.

Now what some of bluechecks do to Trump is harassment.

It’s always projection and double standards with Trump and his people. Always.

its not harassment, its called smack talk and its just what guys do to each other to stop our egos getting out of control.

Based on the evidence, it’s not working.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

Now what some of bluechecks do to Trump is harassment.

The authoritarian mindset at work. By his position, Trump is one of the most powerful people in the world. So, how dare those with less power be rude to him! That’s an inversion of the natural order! Don’t they know their place?

rv97
rv97
2 years ago

Shouldn’t there be measures to report doxxing incidents? It’s a breach of privacy laws.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
2 years ago

Just curious: Does anyone know the name of the robot getting a shoulder rub from the cat in the OP pic?

AcidTrial
AcidTrial
2 years ago

It once again comes back to the question of why one would spend so much of their time on a hobby that does not make them happy, and waste so much of their life on something that does not earn them money, does not provide enjoyment, does not make them more secure in any way, shape or form, and does not have any obvious tangential benefit to them. Like, why do these guys play video games at all? If it’s just about the harassment of others, wouldn’t it be easier and more cost effective to just lean out their window and yell stuff at passers-by?

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

@Crip Dyke

I’m pretty sure that’s one of the game controllers with two joysticks.

@AcidTrial

Actually, many video games are specifically made to trigger adrenaline responses and engage the dopamine reward cycle, and that shit can be very addictive. When I moved across the country to Florida way back in the late 90s, I got rid all of my video game consoles and games because I knew full well that being in a new environment with no friends and no job was a recipe for me to essentially descend into the games and ignore the real world completely.

personalpest
personalpest
2 years ago

@CripDyke:

Just curious: Does anyone know the name of the robot getting a shoulder rub from the cat in the OP pic?

I think the cat is “playing” with a video game console. Sorry, I don’t know which one.

@AcidTrial:

If it’s just about the harassment of others, wouldn’t it be easier and more cost effective to just lean out their window and yell stuff at passers-by?

Don’t give them ideas. 😉 But seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were doing this already.

EDIT: Ninja’d by Gaebolga and Tessa.

Tessa
Tessa
2 years ago

AcidTrial

If it’s just about the harassment of others, wouldn’t it be easier and more cost effective to just lean out their window and yell stuff at passers-by?

1) It’s anonymous, so fewer social consequences.
2) They band together to further insulate them even more from social consequences.
3) They don’t have to see the person they’re attacking so it’s easier to dehumanize, or dismiss as not real.

varalys the dark
2 years ago

Looks like a PS4 controller, you can tell by the thumbstick placement and light strip on the back.

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

@rv97
Which privacy laws? I am unaware of any that apply to this situation.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@AcidTrial
If you harass people outside of your window, soon a) you may face judicial or possibly extrajudicial consequences, and b) people will start to avoid your window. If you harass people in video games, you are unlikely to face any consequences and it will be hard for people to avoid you short of quitting gaming. Knowing that, if you were a harasser who wanted to reach a large audience with your bullshit, which would you pick? I doubt GamerGaters would have gotten any notable attention if they just stood in their windows shouting about Anita Sarkeesian.
This toxic culture is part of why I never really got into games in the first place. The games I did play were mostly offline single player games.

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

This is why I do not play games online.

It is also why videos games are barred from being art.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

At least a few gaming communities refer to people who get their fun by denying other players fun as “griefers”. I don’t know if that term exists among video gamers; I’m lumping all kinds of gaming together here.

I would speculate that, even if it was practical to do so, heavy policing of griefing would be a bad idea. The griefers would just find ways of perverting the system, such as getting random people banned for griefing. This may not be anything we can expect game designers to do much about.

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

@Snowberry
Yep, they’re called griefers in video games, too.

However, you’re wrong that nothing can be done about it. Game designers do consider these things and do what they can to make griefing difficult or impossible. Sometimes community managers will ban people from online play. It depends on the company, the game, and what kind of environment the development team wants to create, as well as what resources they have available, what priorities they have, etc.

Basically, we don’t need to throw our hands up in the air and assume itsa lost cause Also, as a community, gamers can refuse to play with abusive assholes. If yelling slurs in the lobby doesn’t get you booted by the community managers, it can still get you booted by other players. We should hold ourselves to higher standards, and when xXxCuCk1488xXx yells racist garbage while waiting in the lobby for the game to start, if we see his handle in game it could be an insta-boot by the host.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
2 years ago

@kupo

Also, as a community, gamers can refuse to play with abusive assholes. If yelling slurs in the lobby doesn’t get you booted by the community managers, it can still get you booted by other players.

I so wish we had that feature in League of Legends, my favorite online game. I get so much harassment that I literally just started muting everyone the instant I get in game. But you can’t mute them in the lobby and you can’t kick them either, you can only leave yourself which results in a points penalty.

You can report assholes after a game, but then you have to unmute them long enough to gather the quotes that would result in a moderator stepping in. Incidentally, for Riot Games, obvious racial slurs such as n***** will result in a ban 9 times out of 10, but homophobic slurs such as f***** or misogyny such as calling people c*** will never result in a ban. 0 times out of 1000. Even when they are clearly abusing someone (usually me) for being a woman. This is not surprising to me given the kotaku article on the culture at Riot, but it is hella aggravating every time I report one and nothing happens.

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

@Big Titty Demon
That’s really unfortunate. But yeah, not surprising, either. I wish more games gave us those kinds of tools.

Castrating Harpy
Castrating Harpy
2 years ago

Mr. Harpy works at a major game studio, and on those occasions when I’m with his coworkers and the gamergate shit comes up (OK, when I bring it up, because they don’t want to even think about it) they all just kind of roll their eyes and shrug, and talk about what a bunch of assholes gamergaters are. They hate these assholes but don’t feel like there’s anything they can do to stop them — “boys will be boys,” basically. Or maybe “if you ignore it, it’ll go away.”
It’s a big company, I’m confident they have people who genuinely care about harassment in their game and work to limit it, but I suspect it’s quite the uphill battle, both within the user base and within the company.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
2 years ago

FTR: I did know that it was a video game controller.

I was just engaging in some amusing pareidolia. I thought people would have fun with it, I didn’t mean to turn it into a boring conversation educating me about video games, sorry.

Neutral_Good
Neutral_Good
2 years ago

Tale as old as time…

Also, direct, speedy competition that offers rewards with consistent playtime and engagement on a what is “supposed” (which I mean is lopsided due to the failure of any sort of competitive balancing anywhere, in any game) to be a level playing field breeds a distinct subset of people that really invest heavily at being good (which usually translates to people finding ways to exploit the system) at transient systems. This counts for double if the video game was captured on recording and was posted to a site like Youtube. If the game has access to a player stats and leaderboards through a menu, then you know that a game community can become toxic as players attempt to move up the ranks. Read the comments on any game patch notes and count the number of comments about now how the game is RUINED FOREVER AND THAT THEY’LL NEVER PLAY AGAIN!

Or don’t, person reading my comment. You probably have more important things to do in your life.

Fabe
Fabe
2 years ago

fortunately not all online gaming communities are like this. The Grand theft auto 5 online roleplaying community I recently joined is great. a while back there was a bit of a problem with people roleplaying suicide and it was starting to stress out some players so the admins asked that such scenarios be avoided and people complied .

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
2 years ago

I think a viewpoint like that only feeds into the notion that toxicity is inherent to online competition and that there’s nothing that can really be done about it. I don’t see anything inherent to online video game competitions that should attract assholes more readily than in single player video games or outside sports.

Shadowplay
2 years ago

@An Impish Pepper

You’ve … not played Rimworld, have you. AKA the war crimes simulator. 😛

There are a significant number of arseholes attracted to that (it’s bad enough that there are always a couple of Rimworld threads in Shit Reddit Says at any given time.)
Good game, but really glad it’s not multiplayer!

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

Mike wrote on
July 25, 2019 at 4:25 pm:

This is why I do not play games online.

It is also why videos games are barred from being art.

Non sequitur.

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

@Ariblester

Video Games are not art because gamers do not treat games as art. This sort of harassment, toxicity is far more common in sports fandom than oh opera studies; likewise the treating of video games as a zero sum games-your pleasure is my pain as typified by these comments-which is alien to relationships of the art world

I do not care if you define art by aspects in the work. I do not. I define art by how we (collectively) treat something.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

Mike wrote on
July 26, 2019 at 1:06 am:

@Ariblester

Video Games are not art because gamers do not treat games as art. This sort of harassment, toxicity is far more common in sports fandom than oh opera studies; likewise the treating of video games as a zero sum games-your pleasure is my pain as typified by these comments-which is alien to relationships of the art world

I do not care if you define art by aspects in the work. I do not. I define art by how we (collectively) treat something.

Okay then, I withdraw my comment. The conclusion does indeed follow from the premises.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

@Mike:

Video Games are not art because gamers do not treat games as art. This sort of harassment, toxicity is far more common in sports fandom than oh opera studies; likewise the treating of video games as a zero sum games-your pleasure is my pain as typified by these comments-which is alien to relationships of the art world

I do not care if you define art by aspects in the work. I do not. I define art by how we (collectively) treat something.

Does this apply only to multi-player games? Would you accept that a single-player game can be art? Or how about an online game which successfully eliminates that toxicity, such as Journey?

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Mike
Your definition of art is not consistent with anything I’ve ever seen before. I’m not an expert, but I’ve taken enough art history classes to know that plenty of works of art garnered various reactions, some negative or toxic. Art is not defined by how people treat it. Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, for example, would be considered art by most people today, but when it was premiered it was met with riots. Does this mean that it was not art originally but became art? Art is generally defined by artistic intent, not public reception. For example, if I make a painting and people deface it because they don’t like it, does that mean it was never art to begin with because it wasn’t treated as art by the community? In the case of video games, letting the view and behavior of a minority of a community determine whether something is art doesn’t seem to be the best gauge.

Skye
Skye
2 years ago

letting the view and behavior of a minority of a community determine whether something is art doesn’t seem to be the best gauge

Nevermind that this ignores the fact that, yes, even in ‘high art’ fields like opera, theater, etc, there is misogyny, there is racism, there are other bigotries, there is harassment.

I feel like we sometimes lose sight of the fact that multiple things can be true.

There is really disgusting harassment in video games. There is harassment in other areas.

This is sort of like the folks who live in the northern US ranting about racism in the southern US. Yes, plenty of racists live in the South (see NC lady in other thread), but if there didn’t exist racism anywhere else in the country, we wouldn’t have Miller (from Cali), Trump (from NY), etc

Dalillama
Dalillama
2 years ago

@Mike

This sort of harassment, toxicity is far more common in sports fandom than oh opera studies;

All I can say is that you’ve clearly never been backstage…

@Skye
Racism is more deeply embedded in public life in the the Southeast, principally because the same rich, white, now-wanna-be slaveholder families still run the show down there, like they always have.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

Dalillama wrote on
July 26, 2019 at 10:33 am:

@Mike

This sort of harassment, toxicity is far more common in sports fandom than oh opera studies;

All I can say is that you’ve clearly never been backstage…

I think that Mike is referring specifically to the audience community, rather than the creators. I think.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Ariblester, Dalillama, Mike
I can’t say opera audiences are always great either. I enjoy opera a lot and go to performances whenever I can, and most of the people I know who are into opera are not bad, but I have met some unsavory fans as well. For example, there was quite a fan backlash when my local opera company had an African-American singer perform the lead part in one show. Then there are other racism issues in opera, such as the controversy around Wagner and his Ring Cycle and racist undertones in other operas.
In short, there is harassment and bigotry in all forms of art, this does not make them not art, and we should all try to work towards eliminating this bigotry.
Related: This interesting article about trans opera singers (also somewhat controversial in the world of opera).

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ naglfar

I can’t say opera audiences are always great either

I nearly started WW3 just by mentioning I didn’t like Surtitles.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

Alan Robertshaw wrote on
July 26, 2019 at 11:44 am:

@ naglfar

I can’t say opera audiences are always great either

I nearly started WW3 just by mentioning I didn’t like Surtitles.

They force you to take your eyes away from the action, and they give away plot points too early. I much prefer dubbed opera 🙃

Skye
Skye
2 years ago

@Dalillama, you’re right. I was not trying to downplay the racism that exists in the South. I was trying to point out that it exists throughout the US.

Frankly, @Naglfar did a much better job articulating the point I was trying to make

Betrayer
Betrayer
2 years ago

“Fifty-three percent of online multiplayer gamers who experience harassment believe they were targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation. ”

They really undercut their argument by including ability in there. Not because “being bad at a game” justifies harassment but because the arguments for and against it are different from those about harassing women and minorities.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
2 years ago

I hate surtitles when the opera’s in a language I understand, or when I know it well enough to not need them. What’s especially distracting is when the translation’s not very good.

The best option is the Met’s, I think, which as I understand it has the translations on the back of the chair in front of you, so you can turn them off if you want; but unfortunately, not many places have the Met’s budget.

betrayer
betrayer
2 years ago

“I would speculate that, even if it was practical to do so, heavy policing of griefing would be a bad idea. The griefers would just find ways of perverting the system, such as getting random people banned for griefing.”

I am currently banned from twitter for “misgendering” a TERF by calling her a cis woman. She replied with “stop misgendering me” and getting her mumsnet pals to mass-report me, causing it to be flagged as hate speech. I appealed it in April, still no followup.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Betrayer
I think when they said ability they meant having a physical or mental handicap, not ability to play the game.
Sorry about your Twitter ban. I’m beginning to think Jack Dorsey is actively trying to court hate on his platform by banning anyone who calls out TERFs yet refusing to ban neo-Nazis or TERFs.

Hambeast
Hambeast
2 years ago

I saw La Traviata in college because, as an art major, we had to attend a certain number of artistic events (art shows, plays, ballet, opera, etc. Anything we could get a ticket stub to prove our attendance) every semester.

I really liked it and was shocked to find myself bawling at the end when (spoiler alert?) Violetta died. Shocked because the saddest of sad films or plays had never so much as wrung a single tear from my eye before.

There were supertitles which helped me since my Italian isn’t anything near fluent. I’m functional in restaurants and shopping, though.

I’d really like to see Aida someday. I almost went back in the early 90s when it was being performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the whole menagerie of animals by the L.A. Opera Company.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Hambeast
Aida is a great opera. I’ve only seen it performed without elephants, but still definitely worth seeing.

I generally like supertitles because I don’t speak Italian or French or German and they help me understand the storyline better. I can understand why others might not agree, but I am in favor.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
2 years ago

@Betrayer:

They really undercut their argument by including ability in there. Not because “being bad at a game” justifies harassment but because the arguments for and against it are different from those about harassing women and minorities.

I’m pretty sure that they’re talking about what many people call DISability. The term disability has fallen out of favor in many circles, because you still have **some** abilities, they’re just different and/or less from what other bodies can manage.

In this particular case, however, I can see the confusion, and assuming I’m right, it was pretty careless of them to use it in this way in this context with no clarifiers that they weren’t talking about game skill.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

@Naglfar:

Aida is a great opera. I’ve only seen it performed without elephants, but still definitely worth seeing.

Sadly, it’s getting harder to find elephants who can perform without autotune.

personalpest
personalpest
2 years ago

@Crip Dyke:

FTR: I did know that it was a video game controller.

I was just engaging in some amusing pareidolia. I thought people would have fun with it, I didn’t mean to turn it into a boring conversation educating me about video games, sorry.

Sorry for misunderstanding you.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ rabid rabbit & naglfar

I hate surtitles

I generally like supertitles

I’m having flashbacks! 🙂