70% of gamers experience or witness harassment while playing online

A new joint report by consumer research platform PickFu and artificial intelligence-based auditing specialist Utopia Analytics revealed that in-game communication is unhealthy.
Utopia PickFu
The published report contains striking data on disturbing behavior in in-game communication.

PickFu and Utopia Analytics presented striking data in the report they published together. The report reveals that 70% of gamers have experienced or witnessed harassment while playing online games. Abuse and verbal abuse against women are unfortunately also present in some gaming communities.

Research companies surveyed a sample group of 1000 people in the USA. The report titled “Playing games online in 2021: Toxicity, misogyny and missing moderation” asked its participants to share examples of toxic in-game communications that they have personally experienced or witnessed. While 38% of the participants stated that they were directly exposed to offensive behavior, 32% stated that they had personally witnessed the harassment of others. Both groups are quite uncomfortable with the situation they have fallen into. In total, 70% of survey respondents say they are negatively affected by other player behavior.

While the levels of abuse and offensive behavior on social media have reached endemic levels, the situation for games is considered not so flawed yet. Although people generally think that annoying behavior is observed in “hardcore FPS” games such as Counter-Strike and Call of Duty, this is not the case. In the survey conducted by PickFu and Utopia Analytics, players claim that the situation is worse than expected and not adequately monitored.

Utopia PickFu
The report was prepared on a sample group of 1000 people from the USA.

Some of the key findings identified in the report are as follows:

  • Nearly half (49%) of the disturbing behaviors towards the participants were based on personal identities such as ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.
  • Of the 49% mentioned above, 37% stated that they were harassed because of their gender, 31% of their ethnic origin, and 32% of their sexual orientation.
  • Of the 489 women surveyed, 30% – nearly a third – said they had experienced abuse and disruptive behavior while playing online games. In addition, none of the male participants reported experiencing sexual abuse.
  • According to survey respondents, MMO RPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) was the most toxic genre. More than half of the gamers reported witnessing or experiencing disruptive behavior while playing these games.

John Li, co-founder of PickFu, said:

“People turn to gaming to escape, assuming the virtual worlds they enter will be safe and fun. The reality, in gamers’ own words, is that these negative interactions significantly impact their mental health and enjoyment of games. This should be a wake-up call for the industry to make gaming a safe space for everyone.”

Utopia Analytics CEO Dr. Mari-Sanna Paukkeri added:

“With so many people turning to games as a way to get through a year of lockdowns and upheaval, there is a risk that many of these new players will be bitterly disappointed if we cannot do more to reduce the ability of this toxic minority to disrupt the enjoyment of the majority, and as an industry take the issue of moderation far more seriously.”

Using PickFu’s online platform, the survey gathered feedback from 1,000 US-based adults aged 18-74 who identified themselves as gamers across console, PC, and mobile platforms. The survey was conducted between 6 May 2021 and 5 June 2021. PickFu and Utopia Analytics jointly analyzed the data. The published report contains exciting information.

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