It seems that one of the worst parts of multiplayer games is harassment from other players, but now there’s data to back up exactly how bad it is. According to a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish organization dedicated to ending antisemitism and all forms of bigotry, Dota 2 is the game in which you are most likely to be harassed while playing. The study also revealed additional important data about harassment in online gaming.
While Dota 2 was the worst game for harassment, with 79% of players having experienced harassment in-game, it was far from the only offender. Just behind Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, Overwatch, and League of Legends all had 75% of players report harassment. This list was far from complete, since respondents to the survey had a list of 15 popular games, and were unable to write in their own, but the survey paints a picture that is disappointing for those who just want to enjoy their favorite games without harassment.
The overall numbers are not good either. The ADL study showed that 74% of players have been harassed while playing online games. Most players, 65%, have even experienced severe harassment, including threats to their safety, stalking, and sustained harassment. A worrying 29% of online gamers have been doxed and have had their personal information exposed.
The study also did research into who harassment affects. Among the players that had experienced harassment, 53% were targeted because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, orientation, or disability. 38% of women and 35% of LGBTQ+ gamers experienced harassment based on their gender or sexual orientation. Gamers of color were targeted as well, with 24% of Latine gamers, 23% of Asian-American gamers, and 31% of Black gamers experiencing harassment. In addition, there was a high amount of exposure to extremist views, including an alarming 9% that had been exposed to discussions of Holocaust denial.
This data paints a bleak picture for gaming. Multiplayer games, including Dota 2, should be a place where players can make friends, work as a team, and improve their skills. Instead, online games have become a harmful, toxic space that people, often part of marginalized groups are often pushed away from. While games like League of Legends and Overwatch have already begun to take steps to reward helpful and supportive players rather than toxic ones, let’s hope that this study is the beginning to making online games a better space to play. Maybe Dota 2 is a good place to start.