Toxic behavior in games and the game industry as a whole is becoming more and more of a problem every day as games, primarily online, are growing more viral. The contagion spreads; toxic gamers affect others and force them to react accordingly with toxicity or make them quit altogether.
The game industry is trying to fight back, as efforts are given to try and put an end to online harassment in gaming. Mobidictum has listed some of the notable actions taken in the battle against online bullying and toxicity from last year.
Female gamers face threats in online games
Last month, Bryter’s study titled Female Gamers Report revealed that 21% of female online gamers quit due to toxic and threatening gaming experiences. According to the company, this is the highest level of toxicity toward females in gaming.
The response received from the participants of Bryter’s Female Gamers Study were as follows:
- 14% had received threats
- 35% had been harassed
- 35% had experienced negative actions of gameplay
- 41% had been sent inappropriate content
- 44% had been aggressively quizzed about their gaming experience
- 50% experienced verbal abuse
The survey also stated 72% of female gamers experienced gaming toxicity, compared to 64% in 2021. Toxic situations affect everyone, but female players often experience more risk than their male counterparts. It has been revealed that some instances lead to serious consequences, even outside the game world.
Call of Duty also had its share of battling toxicity last year. One update from September 2022 saw Activision’s anti-toxicity teams conduct an extensive operation to ensure a friendly and enjoyable gaming experience. A staggering amount of 500.000 accounts have been banned from the game due to these efforts.
Harassment at an all-time high
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also released a report on player experiences in online multiplayer games, showing increased hate speech and discrimination coming from gamers on online platforms. The report stated that more than four out of five adults (ages 18-45) have been subject to online harassment in gaming.
The study focused on toxic gamers and general harassment, but extremist ideologies such as white supremacy were also essential to consider. ADL shared that popular online games such as Roblox, Call of Duty, and Fortnite have exposed more than two million teenagers to extremist ideologies.
Measures taken by industry’s big names
In August 2022, Modulate raised $30 million in a funding round to fight online toxicity. Initially launched as a creator of customizable voice skins in 2017, Modulate improved its machine-learning technology and developed an online voice moderation tool called ToxMod to reduce toxicity found across the web.
ToxMod uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan voice chats in games for toxic speech, targets illegal activities, and aims to help with parental controls. With this tool, the company looks to make the internet safer and more welcoming for everyone.
Ubisoft and Riot Games announced a partnership in November to fight any harmful player interactions through AI-powered technology. As members of the Fair Play Alliance, the duo planned to work on creating a safe and consistent environment for all gamers.
This partnership will aim to build a cross-industry database to collect vast amounts of data, later installed into AI moderation systems to enhance accurate detection. The initiative is titled “Zero Harm in Comms.”
While commenting on the initiative, Riot Games’ Head of Technology, Wesley Kerr, said:
“Disruptive behavior isn’t a problem that is unique to games – every company that has an online social platform is working to address this challenging space. That is why we’re committed to working with industry partners like Ubisoft, who believe in creating safe communities and fostering positive experiences in online spaces.”
Ubisoft did receive harassment and toxicity accusations in 2020. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot later mentioned that the team has caught a good rhythm but then commented, “Creation requires a bit of friction because everyone is trying to prove their ideas are the best. It’s a rewarding job when you succeed, but it’s difficult.”
The word “friction” caused controversy on the web, as some fans defended Guillemot and others criticized him by bringing up the allegations back in 2020. Since then, the company has been giving signals of change, especially with the recent initiative.
New studios promote non-toxicity
Newly formed studios seem to be aware of the game industry’s current situation, as more and more of them look to improve workplace conditions for their employees. Studios like Noodle Cat Games set their mission statement on forging a new path for the game industry by creating a flexible, healthy, and non-toxic work environment.
Although toxicity grows stronger every year, companies try to raise global awareness via surveys and initiatives. The game industry will definitely have to face an uphill battle, but it also has the potential to bring everyone closer to each other.