Nearly half of British women face abuse when gaming online says survey

The gaming community remains horribly unwelcoming to women, as prominent voices speak up against the frequent online abuse they suffer.

Everyone knows that the gaming community suffers from an abuse problem. When players aren’t sending death threats to developers, over trivial matters like unpopular updates or platform exclusivity deals, they’re harassing each other, be it through vicious text messages or verbal comments during online play.

More often than not, it’s female gamers that suffer much of the abuse. Despite the games industry’s best efforts to appear more inclusive, this has remained a persistent problem for years and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.

In a recent study commissioned by Sky Broadband, it’s said that 49% of female British gamers have experienced abuse or harassment while playing online games, with 80% of those women saying they’ve received violent, often sexual messages.

52% of those surveyed admit that online play makes them worried for their mental health. This has led to nearly a third of female gamers suffering anxiety due to fears of being attacked or harassed in real life, with 11% developing feelings of suicide.

The survey also spoke with male gamers for their perspective, with 51% saying they’ve witnessed female streamers being harassed during live streams. 71% of those surveyed claim to have stepped in to try and stop any such abuse.

In the wake of this study, Sky is partnering with non-profit anti-cyberbullying organisation Cybersmile to raise awareness of sexist abuse within the gaming space.

It’s also teaming up with UK firm Guild Esports to launch what it calls the Sky Guild Gaming Centre in Shoreditch, London, where it’ll offer what is effectively a simulator to demonstrate first hand what sort of abuse female gamers are faced with on a regular basis.

The plan is, according to Sky’s website, for the centre to be open fortnightly every Friday, starting from June 16 (Stop Cyberbullying Day) where you can ‘meet likeminded people, play games, take part in competitions, and enjoy watch parties in a place that is safe for all gamers.’

The campaign extends to content creators as well, with Sunpi, Elz the Witch, and Danielle Udogaranya appearing in a series of images depicting examples of abusive messages they’ve received.

They are joined by Stephanie Ijoma, CEO and founder of gaming organisation NNESAGA, who says: ‘As women, the abuse we receive on a daily basis is simply unacceptable, which is why campaigns like this are so important to challenge the gaming community to become part of the change. It’s crucial that we work together in making the online gaming world safer for women, as there is absolutely no room for abuse.’

Elz the Witch adds: ‘I’m proud to be part of this campaign which is shining a light on the real challenges women that play or stream games online face – which is often worse for women from racially diverse backgrounds. It’s hugely important that we not only raise awareness but encourage real action – there must be allyship for change to happen.’

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