Survey finds high levels of harassment in multiplayer games, as well as white supremacist recruiting attempts

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That one set of figures is itself a little arresting: the most positive games are actually pretty negative (about half of players experience harassment), while in the world of negative games, the players reporting harassment represent large supermajorities of all sampled players.

Griefers have always targetted more “positive” games that attract a wide audience not used to the toxic white male gamer “culture” that’s pervasive in “negative” games. It gives them a thrill of being “edgy”.

And, since it always needs re-iterating in topics that attract fools who still believe Jack Thompson had a point, this is ultimately not about the games themselves but about the nasty and entitled social communities that have been allowed to accrete around them by manufacturers who still think their core audience should be 12-year-old white boys.


Sorry, but why is the ‘speech to text’ part such a fiction? It seems to me that it’s pretty close.

It’s not the speech to text part that’s the fiction, it’s automatically detecting harassment in speech that’s the fiction.


Man, I’m so old that I remember when shit-talking in games was strictly about someone’s skills, not their skin colour.
Edit: Or their gender. Or their orientation. Or their religion. Seriously, what the fuck happened?




Interesting how Overwatch is in the top and bottom.


I agree with you, but I don’t think the study is categorizing games in terms of their inherent positivity or negativity. The “positive” games were those with the fewest negative experiences from others, and the “negative” games were those with the most negative experiences.


For myself, I started playing multiplayer games through MUDs on a local BBS. I loved them.

The first console I played online multiplayer on was the Dreamcast; specifically, Phantasy Star Online.

Overall, it was great. Nobody had microphones, and unless they had the keyboard attachment, they had to text slowly with the onscreen keyboard. It made it awkward to harass.

After the Dreamcast’s lifecycle ended, I gave computer multiplayer games, like Diablo 2 a shot. Eventually I moved on to World of Warcraft. That’s when I decided that playing with strangers just wasn’t worth it, and my opinion of humanity dipped.

I’ve circled back a few times with current generation games that included online multiplayer – I won’t buy a game that doesn’t have a good single player component – but damn. I can’t only take tweens, teens, and young “adults” being fuckwaffles toward me because I’m not at their level before I have to bail and go back to single player.

I would love to find a game that I enjoyed playing with strangers again, but I’m just not sure it’s possible anymore.


I remember when you wanted to shit-talk someone in multiplayer games you had to do it face to face.


In any sane country we would have banned multiplayer chat (voice or text) with the exception of pre-canned options over a decade ago. I grew up with xbox live and legitimately think I am a worse person for it.


I used to love playing Uno online and shit talking with others. It was all in good fun. And then the game became overrun with penises.


I got the Playstation Network Pass because 1) it was on sale and 2) you do get free games and 3) it was the only way to play split screen multiplayer Don’t Starve Together with the kiddo (which is a fun and infuriating survival game of horror).

I have yet to try to boot up like Battlefield 1 or Battlefront 1 as I’m not sure I want to be called a “fag noob” all day.

Some people would call that a feature…


Unless the game is with a small group of people I know I avoid multiplayer like the plague. I can’t stand spending up time with a bunch of 12 year old edgelords shouting fag. The one time I went into vrchat I did get one to shut up by saying I was gay but I really don’t want to spend my days raising other peoples kids virtually.

Really the road to hell is paved by edgelords.


I played WoW since the beta for Vanilla, and for the first 6 months when it went live, I pretty much soloed anything with the occasional group/dungeon run. Eventually I started PvPing with a guild and then migrated to raiding with another guild before Vanilla ended and did that steadily with various guilds through the end of WoD. At that stage I couldn’t stand the group of people I was playing with and quit until half way through BfA. I’ve been playing again since the start of 2019 and playing totally solo beyond LFD/LFR runs I queue up for.

I’ve found the game is far more enjoyable this way, and given the amount of content and type of questing they have implemented, the game has a good single player mode (which includes being able to solo a lot of old content).

When I was podcasting and playing regularly, I always said the best part of WoW was the people…and the worst part of WoW was the people.


Most of speech to text works around expectations. Detecting single words is still relatively hard, there are too many things it could have been, but string a few maybe words together and then pick the highest probability to matching an expected pattern and you get fairly good results. This also causes many false positives where your trying to find a specific set of phrases and you tend to find them more often then you should.

An anecdotal example, a few years back a friend was was talking about a restaurant and said “They sear a pork loin”, and his phone chirped and responded with something like “A pork loin is a cut of meat…”. His phone desperately wanted to hear “Hey Siri” and was happy to interpret “They sear a” as close enough.

Building a system to detect harassment is very likely to weight the interpretation of words in the most negative light possible when there is any ambiguity in what was heard by the machine.

Updated to add:
Also computers do a fast but mediocre job at doing what humans can do well. It’s a fools errand to ask computers to do a job that humans do poorly like judging intent out of context. I’m not at all interested in the future where an algorithm flags to LGBTQ individuals, having a discussion about struggling with depression, while playing some MMO, getting banned for harassment. We have seen human moderators on Twitter and Facebook get this wrong many times now, lets not train an AI to commit injustice in the blink of an eye.


The active recruitment through games and other fandoms (Anime is a big one) reminds me very much of the similar recruitment by neo-nazi and white supremacist groups through various music scenes in the recent past. Especially various punk and heavy metal scenes. Time was you’d go to a concert and there’d be guys handing out CD’s from a van. His band was all about “European Heritage” or some such and he was totally an anarchist. They’d offer beer or drugs, or to introduce you to those girls over there who would totally fuck you (he’d claim).

Of course by the time I was involved in punk nearly every show of any size had an Antifa/ARA booth full of folks who were there to warn you about those guys. Usually manned by at least one reformed Nazi Skin who would tell you what to watch out for, and his story about how he was recruited and it ruined his life. And of course those Nazis were much closer to criminal gangs than political parties, heavily involved in the drug and gun trades.

But the tactics were the same. Identify a social group or movement with disaffected young white men a plenty. Lure them in with dog whistle media, promises of acceptance, importance, and sex. Use that involvement to introduce the ideology and radicalize. Similar tactics that terror groups, cults, and gangs always use.

I remember when multiplayer with the general public meant a cabinet with more than one set of controls. The “shit talking” was never just about skills (ask my sister). And pretty much the minute the “gamer” idea coalesced and the internet got involved this shit was endemic. People have been calling it out since then 90’s.

Just cause you didn’t notice doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.


The most “positive” games (where players said they were unlikely to experience harassment) were World of Warcraft (59%), Minecraft (55%), NBA 2k (51%), Overwatch (49%), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (48%), and Fortnite (47%); while the worse offenders for harassment were Ancients 2 (DOTA 2) (79% of players of the game), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (75%), Overwatch (75%), PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (75%) and League of Legends (75%).

How can CSGO, DOTA 2, and Overwatch be both the best and the worst? How can 49% of people say that Overwatch is the least likely place to be harassed while 75% of players say it is the most likely? What the hell is going on with these stats?


Apparently it isn’t, because at least some of these companies are commercially competent, and I’m sure none are unaware how off-putting their “communities” are to large swathes of potential customers. The world of triple-A games (outside of Nintendo) is irreversibly committed to a particular Axe-body-spray-scented demographic, and I think their calculation is that they don’t have a business if they don’t give that group what it wants.

I enjoy video games, but the idea that I would play Overwatch or Call of Duty or any Xbox game strikes me as absurd. It’d be like me dropping into a mafia club in New Jersey for a drink; I am very obviously Not Invited.

If queer / female / brown teens don’t initially realize that, I feel bad, but the fact is these are spaces created by and for the kind of boys who will call you a fag or threaten to rape you when they get excited. That’s not some mistake that will be rectified if you just politely notify the developer; it’s kind of the point.


Speech to text and text to speech has definitely arrived. Apex Legends has the ability. Every time they patch the game the speech to text options turn them selves back on due to a bug or something. For that day there is endless N words and hate speech flashed across everyone’s screens in the chat area because some trolly individual knows they can.

So yeah, the first time I ever saw voice to text in-game, it was used to harass.