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70% of online gamers say they’ve been harassed, Overwatch and Fortnite players among worst offenders

The dark side of online gaming: Over 70% of gamers say they’ve been harassed, with Overwatch and Fortnite players among the worst offenders -and nearly HALF admit they’ve participated in the abuse of others

  • 36% of Fortnite players said they avoided the game for fear of abusive behavior. 
  •  Fortnite is bad, but Dota 2 is even worse, with 75% of players reporting abuse.
  •  23% of players had been exposed to white supremacist ideology in a game.

For many, going online can feel like being transformed into a target. 

A 2017 Pew survey found 41% of Americans had been subject to some form of harassment over the internet. 

In addition, a staggering 39% of Tinder users reported some form of harassment, 38% of daily Reddit users reported online abuse, and 37% of daily Facebook users reported being harassed. 

But, if you want to really ruin your day, there’s no better bet than firing up an online multiplayer video game. 

A new survey from the Anti-Defamation League, conducted in conjunction with games analytics firm NewZoo, shows just how bad things have gotten in gaming.

According to the survey, 74% of online gamers reported experiencing some form of harassment from other players. 


38% of women who play online reported having been harassed for their gender. 31% of African Americans reported receiving abuse for their ethnicity. Stock image


1. The target of trolling/griefing

2. Personally embarrassed by another online player

 3. Called offensive names

 4. Threatened with physical violence

 5. Harassed for a sustained period of time

6. Stalked (information gathering used to threaten or harass) 

 7. Sexually harassed

 8. Discriminated against by a stranger (based on age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)

 9. Had personally identifying information made public.

In the survey, 50% reported being discriminated against based on their gender or ethnicity, and 29% reported having been doxed, which the survey defines as having ‘had a stranger publish private information about me.’ 

Harassment levels were especially high in a handful of games. 

According to the survey, Dota 2 is the most toxic online multiplayer game, with 79% of players claiming to have been harassed at some point during their time with the game. 

Not far behind were Overwatch and Fortnite, which had harassment rates of 75% and 70% respectively. 

Another 23% of people said they’d been ‘exposed to discussions of white supremacist ideology,’ and another 9% had stumbled into Holocaust denial conversations while playing. 

The survey was conducted with 1,045 respondents between the ages of 18 and 45. 

And subjects were oversampled for people identifying as LGBTQ+, Jewish, Muslim, African American, and Hispanic/Latinx, ensuring that at least 60 people from each group were included in the total group.

Perhaps most interestingly, 46% of survey respondents said they had themselves participated in the harassment of another player. 

In an interview with Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio, the ADL’s Daniel Kelley attributed all the hostility on game companies. 

‘Large-scale commercial games have these aspects of their platform that are totally unmoderated spaces,’ he said.

62% of those surveyed wanted developers to 'do more to make online games safer/more inclusive'

62% of those surveyed wanted developers to ‘do more to make online games safer/more inclusive’

It wasn’t all bad news, however. 88% of respondents said they’d also had positive social experiences while playing games. 

The games most likely to lead to a positive social experience were World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and the NBA 2K series. 

One of every two people surveyed said they’d formed at least one new friendship from playing games and one-third of people surveyed said they’d discovered new personal interests as a result of online play. 

13% of respondents said they’d met a romantic partner through online gaming.


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