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Player harassment of developers is a “serious” issue, says industry survey

The 2023 State Of The Game Industry survey has been released, with an overwhelming majority of people surveyed saying that player harassment of developers is a “serious” issue.

Over 2300 game developers were surveyed by the Game Developers Conference and its affiliate publication Game Developer for the report, which was released yesterday (January 19).

As well as finding that interest in blockchain technology had not grown over the past year but efforts to make gaming accessible has, the report revealed that 91 per cent of respondents said player harassment and toxicity towards developers and studios is an issue in the industry.

42 per cent said it was a “very serious” issue, 36 per cent agreed it was a “serious” issue while 13 per cent claimed it was a “minor” issue. 4 per cent said it wasn’t an issue, while 5 per cent were “unsure”.

“Despite a near-universal agreement that harassment is a problem, only 40 per cent said they’d experienced it themselves or seen it happen to someone on their team – while a majority of respondents said they’ve never experienced or witnessed harassment,” said the report.

“Men surveyed were less likely to say they experienced or witnessed harassment than women or non-binary people, and respondents were more likely to say they experienced or witnessed harassment if they identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Of the 40 per cent of respondents who’d experienced harassment, 68 per cent said their respective companies had addressed it.

One developer claimed people should just “accept” harassment. “Let it go, move on. The loud minority is part of human nature.”

“The companies need to take it seriously. I received death threats and they contacted my family on social media, but the company ignored my concerns,” said one developer while another explained how “we had to use law enforcement to visit a player and explain that they’ll be arrested if they continue to threaten the studio devs.”

“We need to recognise that behaviour when it happens, call it out and set expectations that we are not going to allow it,” said a community manager. “We also need to stop inviting the community to be part of the family. You’re part of the conversation, you get to offer an opinion, but you don’t get to demand everything goes your way.”

Another said that change comes from “the industry understanding this is serious and it is not just coming from ‘passionate players’. It’s abuse.”

Apex Legends. Credit: Respawn Entertainment.

Last year Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind Apex Legends, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Titanfall, called out the “harassment” its developers were receiving from some players.

Sony Santa Monica was also forced to post a statement following harassment of its developers over the unannounced release date for the upcoming God Of War: Ragnarok.

Bungie also filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Twitch streamer Luca Leone, also known as MiffysWorld, for cheating, reselling Destiny 2 assets and threatening Bungie employees. Some of the repeated threats involved mentions of burning down the studio’s offices. Additional details include voicemail messages to employees which contained racist and homophobic slurs were revealed a month later.

 

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