Toxic Gaming Behavior: Hate Speech

What is hate speech in gaming?

Hate speech is a form of abuse that takes place in video games in different forms. Hate speech in gaming can take form in racism, antisemitism, anti-muslim, misogyny and anti-LGBT abuse. The abuse can be verbal or through text in in-game chats. It is a from of expression where the speaker intends to humiliate or spread hatred against a group or an individual based on their race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability or national origin to name a few. Research indicates that up to a third of internet users reported they experienced hate speech on the internet.

Hate speech is a serious offence

Why people use hate speech

Hate speech may reflect a persons genuine political beliefs or distaste for a group of people. It can also be a result of lack of knowledge. Others, such a younger children playing videos games may truly not understand a stereotype or how using particular language with members of a targeted group could be considered hateful. Other times, players may be looking to illicit a negative response from others as they are “trolling“.

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How hate speech affects other players

For those who are the victim of hate speech, whether they are being personally attacked or not, they cannot un-hear the horrible things that have been spoken to them. Hate speech has been on the rise since early 2020 right alongside the pandemic. Online hate speech can last a very long time and can be shared over and over again. Due to the anonymity of gaming, players tend to use more hate speech than they would in a public setting. Hate speech can cause direct and indirect effects to a teenagers psychological wellbeing. Those being targeted by hate speech may experience low self-esteem, sleeping disorders, increased anxiety and feelings of fear and insecurity.

Recommendations for parents

  1. Report any hate speech that you or you child comes across. Every platform has its own reporting services, so take the time to figure out how to report it and then do so.
  2. Ensure that your children understand how to speak respectfully to others.
  3. Pay attention to any new vocabulary that your children might be using that could be deemed inappropriate or hurtful whether that is their intent or not. Speak to your children about the meaning of the term as well as explaining how words can impact others.
  4. Teach your children how to show support for targets of hate speech in gaming. It is important that they don’t stand by and watch it happen. The individual expressing hate speech may back down when they see that the hate speech is not accepted.

Examples of hate speech