Online Games and Harassment

The internet is full of bullies. Whether you go to a social media site, a cooking directions comment section or a controversial article on a website, it is very likely that you will be bullied or you will notice someone being bullied. In fact, a recent study showed that 40% of internet users have personally experience harassment while 73% of users have witnessed it occur to others.

Out of personal experience I believe that out of all possible “bullying internet networks”, gaming is the area where a user is most likely to be bullied.

The bullies, who are usually men, use mild or in some cases severe ways to disrespect and insult other players on a daily basis during a game. A very interesting study  showed that the likelihood of a low skilled player to bully someone else is much greater than the likelihood of a higher skilled player to bully someone. In addition, women gamers are bullied much more often than men especially when they are beating them.

The experiment that led to this results was this:

3 different Halo 3 accounts were set up with female prerecorded voices controlled by 3 players of different skill. The reactions of other players were recorded and the results were surprising.

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Apart from the expected fact that the most skilled female account received the most negative comments, the researcher supports that women receive the same behavior when in the workforce.

“I think Halo 3 is an excellent example simply because it is so representative of many of the social environments women can experience in many STEM fields and other male dominated work places,” Kasumovic tells WIRED.co.uk.

So what?

We have always known that people are awful to each other on online games but the connection of the behavior between the 2 sexes online with the behavior in real life is concerning.

Does this mean that to stop bullying in the workforce and bullying against women, we must start from eliminating bullying in online gaming? Or should we try to eliminate bullying in real life with hopes that the online life will fix itself as a consequence?

-DV

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7 thoughts on “Online Games and Harassment

  1. I believe that if you want to stop bullying, you need to do it in real life and not online. I feel this way for two reasons. The first is that if you stop the real life one, then it should by default eliminate the online bullying. My second is that it can be difficult, especially kids to deal with bullies in real life due to areas they have to go that the bully may always be and the fact that they may not be able to stand up for themselves, but online is very different. If we are focusing on gaming,then simply change the server and you will be away from the person bullying you. Do you think that people cannot simply switch servers in order to get away from harsh words?

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  2. Very interesting study done with 3 players all with different skill levels. The problem of bullying over gaming stems from society as a whole. Once we solve the problem with society, online gaming atmospheres will fix themselves.

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  3. I also agree that if you want to stop bullying you should start in real life. First, I feel that many people who get bullied in real life would turn to the internet as an outlet resulting in them bullying online. In addition, it would be much harder to directly combat harassment online than say in a workplace where guidelines can be more strictly informed.

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  4. I don’t think we’ll ever COMPLETELY eradicate bullying, but we can reduce it if we try. I think we should focus on both offline and online bullying because they can feed into one another. This is a tricky thing to do, though, because online bullying is considered a part of the Internet and no one wants to fight against it because “it’s just the Internet.” That quote always drives me up the wall.

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