ADL reports increase in hate and extremism in online games, gaming industry responds

According to a recent report from the Anti-Defamation League, hate and extremism in online games has worsened since last year.

The report says four out of five adults experienced harassment in online multiplayer games and white supremacy is also on the rise. The document shows the exposure to it has more than doubled from 2021 to 2022.

Jonathan Smith, who fell in love with gaming as a kid, has noticed changes in some of the things he hears online.

“The n-word or ‘your mom’s a “B,”’ or they’ll tell you ‘you’re a “B”'’ or they say a whole bunch of obscene sexual gestures,” he described.

We went over the ADL report with Smith.

“That’s crazy, wow,” he reacted. “That’s very unfortunate.”

“We’ve seen year over year that things are getting worse,” said Daniel Kelley, who focuses on how the ADL is fighting hate online.

He believes the gaming companies need to push back harder against this behavior.

“Platforms where there is not robust moderation become places where that facilitate hate, harassment and extremism,” he said. “There isn’t the same level of care taken into crafting policies, to enforcing policies, to having teams dedicated to this.”

But the Entertainment Software Association said the industry goes “to great lengths” to create “a healthy, safe and inclusive environment.” a statement points to “clear codes of conduct that set expectations for acceptable behavior,” “serious consequences” for those “who engage in harmful behaviors” and ways players can report any of this.

In the meantime, Jonathan and his friends have worked to create the DC Gaming Group, which is a place where gaming brings people together.

“We wanted to give a place, safe space, not safe space, but safe place or as all-inclusive group setting where people can just come and enjoy themselves and have fun,” Smith said.

FULL STATEMENT FROM ENTERTAINMENT SOFTWARE ASSOCIATION:

As an entertainment industry, we strive to create fun and engaging experiences for all players and go to great lengths to ensure that our player communities can be enjoyed in a healthy, safe and inclusive environment. We do not tolerate actions by bad actors seeking to use our games as a platform to propagate inappropriate messages.

The industry has clear codes of conduct that set expectations for acceptable behavior, and players who engage in harmful behaviors, such as hate speech or calls for violence, face serious consequences, including having their accounts terminated and, or, being referred to law enforcement, as warranted. The industry also encourages players to report disruptive content and behavior when they see it, which is one of the most effective tools in curbing bad actors. Advanced technologies, expert human moderators and tools that empower parents and players to manage gameplay also contribute to ensuring safer and more positive experiences for all players.

We are continually evaluating and improving our processes and policies, but what remains unchanged is our goal to create positive, safe and inclusive spaces for everyone.